Rise in Cyber Threats – Be Vigilant!

Rise in Cyber Threats – Be Vigilant!

The world’s not a fair place, and what better (or should we say worse) times than the present to ascertain this. Yes, we’re living in an unsafe world not just physically & mentally but digitally too☺. Just as the deadly virus is taking a toll on the world, the cyber world is fighting its own battles: struggling against data thieves, ransomware bullies, sophisticated phishers, hackers and more such elements. Industry leaders and Government heads, globally, have concurred on Cyber Security being one of the biggest threats facing the world & global economy. At an individual level too, Cyber security is a daily concern when we go online, to shop, connect with friends & colleagues, or access an account, we are worried about who might be tracking us or breaking into our device. 

2019 saw some damaging incidents that threatened to take down cities as large as Baltimore and New Orleans and things will only worsen this year & beyond. More than 60 percent of businesses have no liability coverage at all, worse still, almost 80 percent don’t even have a comprehensive cybersecurity prevention and mitigation plan in place.

Another trending threat looming on the world currently is the increase of bring your own device (BYOD) concept. Allowing staff to work from home or use their personal devices like smartphones, tablets, or laptops is convenient and cost-effective for enterprises, but it also leaves companies more vulnerable to social engineering exploits and ransomware attacks.

Talking of the top 3 most susceptible industries, one struggles to sequence among Healthcare, Banking/ Finance Institutions and Manufacturing, reminding us of how Healthcare suffered 3 out of the 7 costliest breaches in 2015.

Read on to know how everyone from the first world countries like the US, Australia to mortals like you and I are equally exposed and at risk.

At an Individual’s level, the most common cyber crimes are:

  • Personal attacks like Cyber bullying, stalking, sexual crimes, attack on privacy, etc
  • Financial Crimes increasing at a deadly rate in terms of frequency and severity, causing lot of damage and creating constant fear. The Ransomware has become a grave concern as it leaves us with no idea or warning of what can possibly happen. 

At State level, the threats our Governments are facing are: 

  • Cyber Attacks on the Grid: As more of the systems that power our lives become interconnected or powered by cloud platforms, we face stronger danger of system-wide attacks on electrical grids, transportation systems, and even our military facilities. Did we know that one electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack can possibly knock out an entire country’s electrical capabilities, and everything related for months?
  • State-Sponsored Attacks: Today, many criminal groups are state-sponsored agents using technology to cause damage to adversaries through attacks on their critical systems. This puts both the (seemingly) smaller as well as the bigger, better-equipped countries, at equal risk from the other.

And finally, some Industry/ Business Level Concerns

  • The Rise of Multi-Cloud Computing:  Multi-cloud and remote computing are the new office spaces. However, as we move into a borderless global society and more cloud-based solutions, we are also offering a broader attack surface, with more access and endpoints to protect, and even greater chances of overlooking an exploitable vulnerability.
  • Shortage of Cyber Security Professionals: Let’s admit it, just like the rise in real-world crime leads to unsafe streets, lack of personnel to combat cyber crime has been leading to greater losses in money, customer trust and data. We need more cyber experts who understand and know what it takes to thwart cyber crimes.
  • More Sophisticated Phishing Exploits: Cyber crimes are becoming more sophisticated as most people are aware of the dangers of suspicious messages and links. Hackers are turning to AI and machine-learning to craft highly targeted, personalized, smarter emails that are harder to detect from the fakes.
  • IoT Factor: The world is more interconnected than ever, thanks to the “Internet of Things” or IoT. Smart devices have redefined the availability of information, entertainment, education and business as such, making communication easier but also more vulnerable. Paradoxically, it is difficult enough to apply security patches to the company’s own mobile devices. Hackers are fast learning to exploit vulnerabilities in IoT devices and becoming adept at accessing corporate networks by installing malware. The outcome can be millions of IoT devices getting compromised leading to large-scale attacks, that can take down entire websites. 

Prevention is often better than cure! Businesses, government agencies, and individuals should segment any networks to separate benign and high-risk devices, use secure rather than default passwords, and protect end-points on all connections.

While a new decade is a great time to look forward to the new trends & technologies, it is also the right time to acknowledge and work against the cyber security threats that will make us vulnerable.


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