In digital security terms, 2015 has been the year of the major corporation hack. With Ashley Maddison in September, Carphone Warehouse in August and now TalkTalk, Weatherspoons, VTech and Marks and Spencer all in the past month, yes, 2015 really has been an incredible year for highlighting the ineptitude and naivety with which the companies we trust hold our personal data. Despite how things seem though, these ‘leaks’ may actually be a blessing in disguise and good news for individuals, as well as bad.
When a cyber-attack hits a major, national company, the affect it has is obviously widespread. TalkTalk are one of the more recent cases were a data leak has created scandal in the media and, more importantly, severely impacted on people’s lives. The attack is likely to cost the company up to £35million, with 157,000 customer’s having suffered from their personal details being leaked, from addresses and phone numbers, to bank accounts and sort codes.
Whether it is the risk of using a webcam in a personal capacity, or the potential business repercussions, it is vital that people begin to realise the dangers involved with built-in camera devices. We looked at certain aspects of this in our previous post, Protection from Webcam Hackers, where stories of couples getting caught out in bed and baby monitor footage being streamed elsewhere were the key concerns we covered. As well as risks from a personal perspective, there are also risks to you professionally as well, both in terms of your data security and the streaming of compromising images.
The way in which criminals steal money from banks has evolved. Whereas once upon a time you were required to wear tights on your head and have a sawn-off shotgun in hand, in the digital age it takes nothing more than a virus to access and ‘lift’ nearly £20 million. Earlier this month that was exactly what happened too, with online banking the target for cyber criminals. The attack uses a malware product known as Dridex to infect a consumer’s device and steal their banking details. The virus is said to account for nearly $100m worth of theft so far, presenting itself as a document attachment in a seemingly legitimate email that grants instant access when opened.
The business world is embracing and adapting to the possibilities of mobile working at an alarming rate. Thanks in equal parts to the ingenuity of cloud storage and the growing power of laptops and tablets, the ability to take a corporate device home is opening up a world of opportunity to employees, especially when you consider the practicalities of having your data with you at all times. As with most things digital, businesses will often tip in favour of efficiency and practicality over security, not recognising the damage that a home network can do to a corporate machine.
The use of Voice Over IP (also known as IP telephony, or VoIP) has brought huge benefits to businesses, as well as potentially harmful implications. The financial and productivity benefits of VoIP technology have been drawing companies in for many years. It is a cost effective method of communication, as well as efficient, with forwarding, remote operation and conferencing aspects all now commonplace in offices across the country and the world. It is also a fantastic way for cyber criminals to eavesdrop on conversations and steal valuable data from your company.
People often talk about the efficiency of the cloud. It is the way it enables users to access their documents across continents on portable devices and share seamlessly with friends and work colleagues. The use of cloud storage is growing in popularity day by day, as businesses begin to realise this value. Other managed security services, such as infrastructure (IAAS) and outsourced server management also allow businesses access to vital technological advances in a cost effective way, helping companies to embrace the ‘digital age’.
The more eagerly people clamour for technology in their lives, the more they should concentrate on protecting their privacy and security. In a world that is dominated by smartphones, tablets and the Internet of Things, it is important to remember that you are inviting more than just the latest gadget into your life and into your home. Given the opportunity, you are also giving hackers direct access to a place where you should feel at your safest.
Once upon a time security could be confined to an office space, with only trusted computers used and protection reserved for those behind your firewall. IoT has changed all of this, and security is now being asked to spread outside of these perimeters, something that most businesses are simply not capable of doing.
Throughout the combined histories of the UK and the USA, with the latter that much shorter than the former, it is safe to say that the Americans have attempted to lead the way when it comes to revolutionary acts around safety. Their stance on cyber security is no different and the UK faces falling way behind when it comes to protecting itself against online threats unless it attempts to keep up with its partner across the Atlantic. With the Americans pushing forward in their attempts to protect against attacks, security will be tightened and cyber-crime, in theory at least, directed elsewhere as a consequence.