Although 2015 seemed like it was an anomaly when it came to the scope and the seriousness of the Cybersecurity attacks that were visited upon companies and individuals in unprecedented fashion, 2016 is shaping up to be similar, creating threats for people and companies that didn’t exist 5 years ago.
Here are some areas where Cybersecurity threats are growing faster than the response to them:
Social Engineering – Radicalization
Although radical groups struck first in 2015 and remain a threat, the irony for many former law officers and military people in Western United States is that the advanced sensor and sonic systems that people in their group have put together to try and protect urban communities have also ended up becoming part a pattern of harassment that actually helps those who listen to experience a form of radicalization because there has been very little reporting on the misuse of car radar, directional sound, and magnetics that can lead to programmed people. Mexico, Southern California, and Arizona have all reported networked systems in place that stretch for hundreds of miles along major thoroughfares. Hooked to the Internet, they can be centrally administered and bother people with a variety of frequencies, while the regular police and military are unlikely to raise much of a fuss. If you do drive through an area where they are using directed sound or other wave weapons, you may end up becoming disoriented and debilitated. On the positive side, the US President and some companies decided to call people that do this ‘bad actors’ and track their data. So if you experience this type of problem in 2016, it is a good idea to also document it to share.
You are probably familiar with sidejacking, the practice of trying to hack your tablet, computer, or smartphone in a public location. Recently, there have been such great advances on the side of scripts for hackers that your device can be scheduled to be hit at a public venue, with business intelligence used to determine what the most damaging course of action is. Whether you are at a coffee shop or a restaurant or a library sharing an Internet connection, you can end up with damaged or compromised data quite easily. The best way to avoid being sidejacked in public is to use your cellular device to either create a hotspot or access the Internet directly with it. By avoiding public Wi-Fi, the risk of you experiencing any problems shrinks quite a bit.
As the new hackers that gravitate toward this type of attack appear to be about control, there isn’t much point in trying to use public Wi-Fi for anything other than the non-personal and non-important computing communication. A couple of years ago, at the well-known Black Hat hacker’s conference, an unknown entity took control of several of the best-known hackers cell phone connections and created havoc for a while. The point for those was that if the top hackers are compromised in public view, it will be just as hard for business users and individuals to avoid that type of concentrated attack.
By far the most common type of serious attack within businesses or with a company that you are a client of is a data breach that shares reams of private data that was never intended to be shown. The people sharing the information could be your co-workers or they could be external hackers. The two most common motivations for seeking to steal information are money and information. Sony was hit with a form of combination data breach attack in 2015 that wiped out their ability to transact business without everyone knowing that someone was physically behind their computer systems. The result was fairly devastating. To avoid being the person who is used to start a data breach by hackers, you should always try and follow your company IT policies regarding using e-mail and social media. You should also limit yourself to the applications that are on the approved list for your firm when using mobile equipment that is owned by your company.
One of the difficult areas of IT policy in 2016 is finding a way to deal with employees who are allowed to bring their own phone or tablet in and use it at work when it contains personal applications and information that may be unintentionally compromised. That is likely because the freedom to add any application may cause hackers and unscrupulous programmers to create opportunity in this marketspace, a true potential weak spot for many companies.
Working With Your IT Leaders
Of course, not clicking on strange links when you receive them through your e-mail or other programs is one of the first rules that workers should learn at their company. 15 years ago, a worker in the United States clicked on the ‘I love you’ e-mail virus link because he genuinely thought there was a chance that the person who sent it to him may indeed have loved him. Today, there is still laughter about the incident that wiped out his company’s ability to use its computers for three or four days and he has lost none of his reputation from that one incident.
From the IT manager’s perspective, the cost of Cybersecurity threats is another consideration that should have most employees trying their hardest to sync with IT policies so that they do not end up being the goat in case something does happen.
2016 should be a banner year for the bottom line of most North American companies. Yet the risks that companies are facing from hackers outside their firms and wayward employees inside their firm make keeping up with the latest types of exploits important for every professional, regardless of their role in a business or community.