In this ever changing constantly connected world, hacking is set to become #1 threat to the US according to the FBI.
Hackers have long been subject to media hype, which has truly warped our perception of what we consider a “hacker” this day in age. To many of us our interpretation of hackers consists of a greasy, Battlestar Galactica t-shirt wearing geek dead set on getting inside of our computers and destroying everything that we love and care for; this truly isn’t the case. Hackers come in all shapes and sizes, from all walks of life, and honestly are only just as curious as you or me.
A recent report released by the FBI claims that hackers have actually become a more apparent threat than terrorists, dubbing them “the new Al-Qaeda”. Cyber-threats have recently become a particular interest to the FBI when a group known as Anonymous tapped into a private conference call between the FBI and the Scotland Yard early February. The group has actually been garnishing a lot of attention from the media the past few months and has been a subject of investigation for a lot of time now. They are most commonly known for their hack and exploitation of the PlayStation Network, exclusive to PlayStation 3 consoles.
What does this means for your business and personally?
Luckily for us these groups aren’t really aimed at inflicting us personal harm, but instead trying to raise awareness. This is why members from groups like anonymous are actually referred to as “Hacktivist’s”, trying to bring a voice to the people who don’t believe in censoring the world of the Internet.
Aside from trying to raise the metaphorical, social DEFCON level, this report is honestly nothing new. Hackers have been around for a long time, as long as computers have been around for. And as long as there are people in the world, curious to know how something works inside and out, then hackers will always exist. A lot of the times a hacker is just someone too nosey for their own good; pair that with exceptional knowledge of computers, programs, and their inner workings. But hacking is as methodical as the name truly implies, it’s hacking away at code and streams of data to figure out what exactly you can get out of it, there’s nothing accurate about it!
What’s at risk?
Personally you should be more worried about Phishers, who are just conmen that evolved with technology and have found yet another way to exploit us. Phishers are dedicated to trying to get you to willingly submit your information to someone who isn’t who they claim to be. This can come in the form of a cloned, fake Facebook page that gathers your credentials when you try to login or even an email from a family member asking you for certain information. Phishers also love credit card numbers, passwords to your email accounts, and gaining information vital to solving your password recovery questions. They do this by means of misleading you with false claims, bots that monitor your keyboard strokes, and back doors, like Trojan viruses, that grant them access to your system.
In Business a lot can be at risk when it comes down phishing and hackers. Businesses typically have a budget dedicated to their network security and if you don’t then now you know its good time to contract that security consultant. Businesses typically rely on server storage and their own private network dedicated to serving and processing all the business’ internal needs. Servers typically house the companies databases and reports, mail servers, website, and transactions, and are integral to the operation of the company.
What you should do to be prepared?
Ethical Hackers are individuals dedicated to preventing this sort breach in security. They are typically contracted as consultants by big organizations to test a networks level of security with penetration testing, in a similar fashion to how a relentless black hat hacker will throw everything they can at a network to exploit it. These consultants will typically recommend the best IDS (Intruder detection system) and firewall combinations for your particular situation. Though a pen-testprobably isn’t the best option for your typical consumer, we can still do our part to protect our own information.
Back-up your information regularly, redundancy of your information is critical in preserving what you know and love. Make sure all of your virus definitions are up to date and that your virus software itself is the latest release, this is important because history doesn’t repeat itself often. Hackers constantly find new ways to fool your anti-virus into thinking that back-door is a friendly email message or game so try and stay one step ahead of them! For personal networks also remember to implement a good firewall that will block all the extra unnecessary ports from access by unknown 3rd parties. A consumer grade firewall is a long way from a autonomous IDS system, but it will definitely do its part in preventing unauthorized access to your network and in attempting to conceal your identity from the world.