Facing the Cyber Threats of the Future
Who would have thought the world of floristry could be so brutal? Alas, we are simply in a time where small private entities can crash their rivals’ websites through DDoS attacks. In the case I’m referring to, online florists pulled such a stunt on key dates like Valentine’s Day, to get a leg up on the competition.
This was just one of many topics discussed at the second annual WIRED security event recently. This particular subject referenced the growing ease with which organizations, from government to small business, can disrupt segments of the internet. The risk also extends, as I’ve mentioned before, to critical infrastructure. State actors have already made headlines in recent years for experimental strikes at infrastructure firms. This past July saw such an attack against the UK energy grid. Unfortunately, there still appears to be a lack of awareness at the board level on this issue, and an attack against something like a healthcare service is not something we’re prepared for, according to Beyza Unal, research fellow at Chatham House.
Other topics at the conference touched on all manner of future online threats, including the evolution and increasing decentralization of the dark web, making it harder to monitor illicit operations and tackle them head on, and easier for terrorist networks like ISIL to spread their propaganda and hook as many as they can. “We are starting to see peer-to-peer technology taking over the dark web – which is far harder to track,” says anonymity researcher Sarah Jamie Lewis. “If there’s no central hub, then there’s nowhere to start. The dark web is changing underneath us and it’s certainly not going to stop any time soon.”
None of this is truly going to stop anytime soon, and ignorance of these realities and lack of readiness are still pervasive across industries.
So, what’s the solution? Aside from, obviously, increasing preparation and ability at the highest levels, there are some simpler, practical tools you can already utilize. Ensuring your protective measures are all up to date so they can handle always-changing malware strains is one. Installing updates for all your systems, devices, and OS is critical in this effort, in order to keep pace with hackers. If your IT team doesn’t have all these elements under its purview, something is wrong. And of course, it can’t be said enough, encryption matters. Without the key, anyone who inappropriately tries to access encrypted sensitive information will find only worthless garble.
It’s important to resist feelings of helplessness against all the cyber dangers out there. There are multiple issues, but they can be addressed with intelligence, the right tools, and efficient execution.