In recent years, cybercrime has gone from a topic of IT conversation to a top news story. This rate of growth is only expected to increase in coming years. Rapidly emerging threats have created much angst for consumers and businesses, often leading to inaction. Some risks have been overestimated, leaving people feeling scared and intimidated.
Businesses have seen a sharp increase in the number of cyberattacks. In the first 10 months of 2017, there were more attacks than in all of 2016. On average, the number of attacks went up by 23 percent.
Many businesses have underestimated their exposure, despite highly publicized security breaches. The Equifax fiasco, which exposed vital financial data and Social Security numbers for virtually all in the U.S., was the most notable breach last year, and the effects are still being felt.
Another significant event was the leaking of NSA hacking tools to the hacking community. The tools the NSA developed for offensive hacking operations were stolen and used against U.S. businesses. These tactics mean IT security must be elevated from a technical issue to a top priority for any business.
The evolution of cybercrime over the past 10 years has been remarkable. We have seen a wide expanse in targeting; from viruses that only controlled a few machines to attacks which expose entire countries, cybercrime has become a constant threat to any individual or organization. The potential for monetary gain and control have made cyberspace the new arena where criminal organizations, governments and ideologues are looking to flourish and expand.
Media has been a strong influence in cybercrime. The movie WarGames, which debuted in 1983, is credited with spawning the next 20 years of mainstream hackers. Largely due to the fact the movie focused on security and information ideals rather than geek talk, it remains relevant today. However, the news media can present a barrier to meaningful information, as they tend to sensationalize one or two sentences, often leaving the viewer or reader panicked rather than informed.
What does all of this mean for consumers and businesses? Information security must be a top concern for everyone. Cybercrime is expanding at an alarming rate. With constant growth in technology and internet-connected devices, protecting our security and privacy is a necessity. Consider the amount of data we now trust to corporations and governments. With the value of this data, it is imperative that each entity takes a proactive approach to securing access to this data.
For the end user, this means understanding to whom you are giving your data and for what purpose. Businesses must take a forward-thinking approach. This means securing the data your customers entrust to you and enacting measures to prevent unauthorized access. Employing proper security practices can prevent stolen data, downtime and significant financial repercussions.
Understanding the history of hacking and tactics used by hackers can give us insight into the next generation. With vast amounts of information, it is essential to have trusted sources who remain knowledgeable about current threats.
Next issue, we will look at “ransomware” and how this new method of attack has exploded and become the leading threat today. We’ll examine the different entities involved in emerging security attacks.