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Published on March 22nd, 2017 | by Technable

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Why 2017 Should Be the Worst Cybersecurity Year to Date


Why 2017 Should Be the Worst Cyber security Year to Date

 

Barely years ago, 2013 was cataclysmic for the cyber security industry. Month after month, more businesses were forced to admit to significant data breaches, which exposed millions of consumers’ personal and financial information to criminals and thieves.

The list of businesses still seems endless: Target, Adobe, Facebook, community colleges, hospitals, insurance companies, and more.

From this devastating year, cybersecurity professionals and tech users learned much ? but not enough to combat the year to come.Girl on computer

 

 

Indeed, the cybersecurity industry has improved by leaps and bounds in the time between 2013 and today. Effective security must be well-rounded, shielding all aspects of devices and networks, and effective security professionals must be technically proficient as well as cunning to notice potential threats before they manifest. Yet, the single biggest lesson of 2013 ? human error ? remains an issue, and for that reason as well as others, cybersecurity professionals around the world are predicting that 2017 will be the worst year ever for cybersecurity.

Complacent Users

Though for security experts, 2013 might feel like just yesterday, many users have long forgotten the looming digital threats and instead grown complacent thanks to recent improvements in cybersecurity.

Built-in firewalls and antivirus software can combat the most common threats to personal machines, and many users are migrating to supposedly malware-proof tech, like Apple products, and ignoring beneficial third-party antivirus for Mac. This false sense of security has given malicious hackers time and space to develop incredibly devious ways of manipulating systems and networks.

Open Pathways

Further, much of the legwork of modern hackers is already done, thanks to their foundational work in 2013. Many homes and businesses were infiltrated months or years ago, and because cybercriminals maintained those points of entry, they can take their time exploring networks, finding valuable data, and snatching up what they want. Worst of all, it is likely that users have no idea they’ve been breached.

Such attacks are often called advanced persistent threats, or APTs, and though some have been identified and eradicated ? like the notorious Deep Panda that gained access to the U.S. Government’s Department of Personnel Management ? countless others lurk in the dark reaches of users’ networks. It is imperative that IT teams devote time to searching for evidence of past breaches to keep the ghost out of the shell.

Unreported Attacks

Another significant threat to cybersecurity in 2017 is a growing list of unreported cyberattacks. Though organizations are legally required to register breaches if they contain personally indefinable info or health data, the vast majority of businesses are not beholden to the authorities. Instead of wasting time and money interfacing with law enforcement, most organizations merely mark the loss in their own logs and carry on as usual ? as Mossack Fonseca would have done had the Panama Papers not been leaked in turn.

This practice is dangerous for at least three reasons:

  • It prevents security professionals from understanding how and why the attack occurred
  • It releases potentially valuable intellectual property, such as nuclear plant blueprints or pharmaceutical components
  • It encourages criminals to continue committing illegal acts.

The same dangers apply to personal users who give in to ransomware threats, paying the thieves ? who in no way guarantee the return of data upon payment ? instead of reporting the attack to authorities or security professionals.

More Effective Hacking Technology

On top of this, hackers’ technology and tactics are only becoming more effective. Artificial intelligence, also called machine learning, allows computers to aid their criminal masters in infiltrating networks and pilfering data.

As software-as-a-service grows, so does malware-as-a-service, in which enterprising hackers sell the platform and tools for building devastating programs to lazier or less tech-savvy criminals. Plus, the ever-growing internet of things opens new opportunities for digital thieves, since few refrigerators and thermostats come equipped with firewalls or virus scanners.

Stay Safe Out There

The digital world continues to grow. Last year, outstanding new tech appeared in droves: Internet of Things devices, cloud storage options, and more, enhancing the way businesses and individual users interact with the web. Unfortunately, it is possible that we have grown too fast to ensure solid protection from digital threats.

To stay safe, users must adhere to longstanding principles of computer security ? strong passwords, limited access, updated software, etc. ? while remaining educated on new and old threats. Available cybersecurity defenses are strong, but this year, the cyberattackers could be stronger, so it is time to remember 2013 and be as smart as possible with tech.


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