The ever-evolving digital age affects cybersecurity more than most people realize. The rate of cybercrimes has grown exponentially and is consistent with the growth of technology. As technology expands and develops, so do the cybercrimes that are committed. Fortunately, as technology has advanced, so has the ability to seek out cybercrimes before they happen and protect people when they occur.
Here are ten ways developing technology has changed cybersecurity:
1. Corporate Security Breaches
The majority of these corporate security breaches occur when hackers exploit employees through social engineering and scams. With advancements in technology, hackers are becoming more skilled at finding holes and cracks in corporate security systems and can gain access to protected files and data, posing a significant cybersecurity threat. Unfortunately, 2012 may be a record year for corporate security breaches.
2. Spear Phishing
Unlike regular phishing emails that target random people, culprits who normally lead spear phishing scams are seeking information for monetary gain; business secrets or private information. Spear phishing occurs when hackers target employees through emails that appear to be from colleagues within their own organizations, allowing cyber criminals to steal personal information. With the progressive technology available today, hackers are able to send emails to employees disguised as others within the company – making this a substantial cybersecurity risk.
Cyber criminals are increasingly using social media to engage in identity theft schemes, and entice individuals to download malicious codes or reveal passwords. Experienced hackers can easily hack into users social media accounts and later use that information to venture into your personal email account, work email account and banking information.
The average user shares a lot of information on social media sites; most reveal a person’s name, age, birthday, hometown and family members, while others can go as far as revealing addresses, phone numbers and even up to the minute location updates. Some of this information can reveal just enough for a hacker to find the opportunity and steal your identity online.
4. Social Media Security Breaches
Not only do social media sites give hackers access to personal information, some sites can also share your exact whereabouts at any point in time. And if someone knows where you are – they also know where you are not. For instance, the social media network Foursquare allows users to “check in” to the places they visit such as school, work, restaurants or even the movie theater. Any number of people can easily tell where you are, and at what time of day by logging into the social network and looking at your profile. The indicator that you are away from home base can put your valuables and safety at risk.
As mobile technology is continuously emerging, so are mobile cybersecurity threats. Currently, 45 percent of cell phone owners have smartphones, which hold more data than the older alternative models. Every new phone, tablet and mobile device serves as an additional opportunity for a cyber attacker to gain access to someone’s personal data. As many mobile devices can be plugged into computers to be charged, sharing charging ports with others can create malware issues for many different devises.
6. Data has Gone Digital
Hard copy information is increasingly less common – practically everything is digital these days. Though often protected by a password, most information is stored on a shared network. As a result, a hacker could gain access to the network and obtain valuable information that could put individuals or businesses at risk.
As more businesses shift to cloud computing and save documents and information to cloud networks poses an additional cybersecurity risk. This method is attractive option to many businesses, as cloud computing and storage is extremely efficient and cost effective. However, certain sophisticated security measures must be put into place to protect information on the cloud. While this technology is continuously emerging, it is crucial for companies to implement security precautions to combat the evolving trends.
8. Advanced Employee Training
As previously noted, with the expanding smartphone market, people are becoming more technologically savvy and need to be educated as technology develops. Proper training should be employed so that the company’s workforce understands the cybersecurity threats, and how to avoid them. Consequently, employees can use this knowledge to get information from their employers from databases, the cloud or on company-shared servers.
In 2012 there have been a few instances of hacktivism – the act of hacking for a political or social reason. Hackers are taking the practice to the next level and attempting to reach websites with a large number of visitors accessing information in order to affect as many people as possible. Large websites and companies are at a higher online security risk for these types of acts.
A botnet is a number of computers set up to forward information (like spam and viruses) to other computers. In the past, botnets were set up to take email and password credentials, which were very useful to spammers. However, with the emergence and advancements in technology, botnets are collecting more data from computers such as name, address, age, financial information, online activity and more. They will then gather your information and sell the data to others. Personal data can be bought and sold by a number of companies and businesses, which is how spammers can obtain so many email addresses. These advanced botnets pose a considerable security risk making personal information extremely vulnerable.
With the upward progression in technology, the presence of hackers and other cybersecurity threats are also on the rise. With increased awareness and knowledge of technology, from consumers and hackers alike, the risks for cyber fraud are heightened. In order for individuals and corporations to protect their information online, it is important for security precautions to be taken to protect against cybersecurity breaches. An online Master's in Cybersecurity from Utica College offers students advanced knowledge and hands-on experience in intelligence, critical infrastructures, and investigative principles as they relate to cybercrime in today’s digital age.
Mohammad Monir Hossan
Senior Assistant Director (Division of Research)