Why Is It High Time to Pay Attention to Cybersecurity Measures?
We are no longer in the age where simply installing antivirus software is enough to protect digital systems. One cannot predict when, where, and which system or website or institute hackers can infiltrate next. Cyber-attacks are increasingly becoming more sophisticated and threatening for sensitive information and data. Also, these offenders are employing new methods like artificial intelligence, reverse social engineering to outwit the conventional cybersecurity controls. These attacks are no longer local to large scale enterprises and government bodies, or even self-driving vehicles; anyone can be the victim of the next cyber-attack. As soon a widespread event occurs, cybercriminals spring quickly into illicit activities that spews communal hatred, spreads disinformation, and looks for financial, and data theft. Even COVID-19 accelerated the frequency of these attacks in the form of malicious phishing scams, breaches, ransomware, and others.
Why does it happen?
Well, the intent behind the nature of cyber-attacks cannot be pinpointed to a particular cause. However, the common motivation is to have unprecedented financial gain, which is why we see distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, flooding networks with uncontrolled traffic, preventing the system from operating. In some cases, offenders, blackmail public, business group, and government authorities by stealing private data in exchange for ransom or sell it to third parties. Another common reason is hacktivism, where hackers commit cybercrime to promote or send messages of social change, whether that is freedom of speech, freedom of information, or human rights. The most notorious example is the Anonymous group. During the onset of the Arab Spring, Anonymous played a pivotal role in bringing media attention to the protests in Tunisia, restore access to websites censored by the government, and write code allowing activists to avoid government surveillance.
Sometimes the intention can be to mess up with the people by starting an infodemic and spreading false information to fuel propaganda. Several cybercriminals are looking for exploiting people’s trepidation and curiosity for information as a vector for attack. After COVID-19 evolved from epidemic to pandemic, health organizations such as the WHO and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were targeted where the attackers impersonated via spamming emails and messages on the context of the perceived authority across the globe. They attempted tempting victims with URLs or document downloads or entice individuals to click malicious links that download Remote Administration Tools (RATs) on their devices, using promises of necessary safety documentation or infection maps. These scammers tried to register fake domain names (cdc-gov.org and cdcgov.org), which seemed similar to valid domains (cdc.gov) to confuse the online audience.
How critical is the issue?
According to a recent report by Analytics Insight, cybercriminals activities can erode 23-30 percent of the global GDP due to resultant economic and compensation losses. As per the findings in the Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study from Accenture and the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of cybercrime for an organization has increased by US$1.4 million over the last year to US$13.0 million and the average number of data breaches rose by 11 percent to 145 percent.
Every 13 seconds, a cyber-attack or data breach occurs in some parts of the world. This escalation of cyber threats is going to increase every year. Also, it causes unfortunate loss of consumer trust, loss of current and future customers to competitors, and results in poor media coverage of the brand.
Cybersecurity solutions to rescue
While the COVID-19 crisis has redefined how we work and communicate with each other, it has also called for attention to how fragile are our existing cybersecurity solutions.
Businesses must educate their staff about social engineering scams like phishing and more sophisticated cybersecurity attacks like ransomware attacks or other malware designed to steal intellectual property or personal data. Next, they can invest in tools that limit information losses, monitor third-party vendor risks, and scan for data exposure and credential leaks. For this, companies can implement the Zero Trust model, which allows the immediate detection of anomalous or risky behavior and takes effective remediation steps.
Moreover, firewalls, antivirus software, anti-spyware software, and password management tools must be made to all work in sync to outwit surprisingly creative cybercriminals. By leveraging the honeypot method, institutes and business enterprises can track and trace a hacker or an attacker. Here a fake or deliberate vulnerable area of the network is created first. When the hacker attacks, they go straight to the vulnerable area of the system, then they grab the files and leave without realizing that they have left a trace behind of their attack.
Besides, that one can also add VPN’s and encrypted connections security into networks by using a radius server, making it much harder for a hacker to get access to the digital system. Whether you are working from a remote location or office, always opt for a trusted application that ensures end-to-end encryption, uses security-focused browser plug-ins, and run on encrypted browsers for enabling remote working audio/video calling. In addition to that, to ensure cybersecurity for devices like smartphones, computers, laptops, and others, people or businesses also must follow up updates of their systems and applications regularly to patch any weaknesses that may be exploited.
Moving forward, it is clear that both government and business institutes need to do much more to secure their systems from evolving forms of cyber-attacks. Authorities must come up with regulatory bodies like GDPR. Though these are exciting times for all stakeholders of the digital ecosystem, it is integral to adopt measures to ensure the security of data will be better placed for the future and safeguard the privacy of people and organizations.