Cybersecurity has been a problem for businesses and governments around the world for decades, as hackers have tried to create chaos and induce fear while simultaneously trying to either get rich or win loyalty to causes.
Some major attacks on the biggest companies around the globe have left our confidence in the trustworthiness of the largest brand names shattered. The massive hacks of Target and Equifax saw the private information of over 300 million people spilled into the darkest corners of the internet.
In fact, it was these hacks that reinvigorated the discussion about cybersecurity. For good reason too: The world has seen a year over year increase in the number of hackers that are active online. There are over 1 billion unique hacking attempts a year now, just for perspective.
This all means that we all need to be extremely aware of the threats of cyberattacks, educating ourselves on the dangers of hacking and the threats that lurk around every digital corner.
The internet of things has increased risk significantly
The “internet of things” (IoT) has been a major target for hackers, as it creates numerous access points where there used to only be a few. For instance, if your smartphone is connected to a smart home system, then you may have a bigger problem on your hands than you could have ever realized.
Hackers could modify your programs and use the access points to get private, sensitive data. The same can be said for a smart car that uses a program to access your phone. A hacker can leave a program at an access point that waits for a data transaction to hop onto your personal network and have immediate access to whatever file system it finds.
The damage from such an attack can be hard to mitigate and often lands the company or person it effects in the worst place possible. The standard hack of a company typically costs said company US$4 million. That is the average financial damage calculation per hack. Hackers will wait to find the most vulnerable companies and strike as soon as they get the chance in order to completely decimate a company and leave no trace.
Your personal data is being targeted
For many hackers, it is a game to find vulnerable access points and use them to achieve malicious goals.
Some have the ambition of gutting a business or government operation. Other hackers have specified individual targets that they believe will give them some type of money for holding certain information hostage. Hackers even have advanced software that can automatically find sensitive data and hold it for ransom.
While this all may seem too much to manage, there are a few strategies you can implement in order to mitigate effects and prevent petty hacks altogether. Always use proper password structure to make passwords practically impossible to guess or be broken by brute force attack (an attack in which the hacker uses specific software to attempt to guess your password millions of times).
Passwords, encryption and multi-factor authentication
A great password consists of 15 characters, with mixed type cases and special symbols to make it practically impenetrable. Remember, there should never be any easily recognizable phrases or words in your password either. In this case, the more gibberish the better.
You may also want to implement encryption and virtual private networks at your home and place of work. These are essentially password-protecting tips that come with the added benefit of obscuring data on the other side of the password if the correct authentication is not given.
This leads to the incredible benefit of multifactor authentication, which makes it impossible for a hacker to get into your file system using traditional methods. This kind of authentication can be done through secondary authorizing devices like biometric scanners or personal cell phones that receive special codes in conjunction with a password.
Hackers have become more sophisticated and dangerous since the late 1990s. The evolution and development of software for nefarious means has become a flourishing industry. In fact, entire nations use hacking methods to retrieve information or perform surreptitious duties on behalf of companies.
These digital bandits want nothing more than to infiltrate your data systems and steal all the information that they can without getting caught. In this age of growing interconnectedness, the damage of a successful hack might be too much to handle. Companies must consider not only how to prevent attacks, but also plan how to mitigate the damage if they happen.
Regardless of your combination of cybersecurity protocols, it is clear that hackers are coming in full strength and you are a target. The implementation of the internet of things will do wonders for our collective technological progress, but it comes at a price.
Luckily, there are tools available to deal with these threats. Using due diligence and retaining a learning attitude will keep your file systems secure and your computer a bastion of safety.