By Drew Smith, CEO of InfoArmor
Attacked, breached, exposed: These three words are on the minds of everyone from the President to corporate executives and everyday citizens.
Cyberattacks are more prevalent than ever in the United States, with more people worried about them than any other type of crime.
The fear is understandable. Since March, InfoArmor has discovered 5.1 million breached IP addresses. On top of that, last year Javelin Strategy & Research reported 12.7 million identity fraud victims nationwide. And perhaps most frightening are findings from the 2014 Breach Level Index, in which our nation accounted for 72 percent of all breaches – No. 1 in the world, followed by the United Kingdom (8 percent), Canada (4 percent), Australia (2 percent), and Israel and China (1 percent each).
If that’s not enough, then consider that a single breach carries a hefty fee: On average, such breaches cost companies more than $500,000, and individual victims spend up to 165 hours of work time remediating their situation, plus time off work and fees to restore their identity.
Aside from the increasing number of cyberattacks is the level of sophistication among cyberthieves, who no longer only steal personal information from the unsuspecting, but also are targeting corporate intellectual property and sensitive government information using increasingly advanced and persistent threats. Recent news of China’s suspected cyber assault on nearly 700 public and private victims, including the U.S. government, Google and Lockheed Martin, proves how widespread the problem has become.
What’s especially troubling isn’t just the crimes we know about, but the fact that upwards of 70 percent of breaches and compromised credentials go undetected. It seems that nowhere is safe – not personal computers, complex IT networks or even utility grids.
If there’s a bright spot amid these alarming statistics, it’s that people are becoming more vigilant. Companies that once turned a blind eye to data leaks or thought that such breaches couldn’t happen to them also are beginning to invest in their IT infrastructure. And public officials are dedicating more resources and devising policies to tackle these heinous crimes.
New technologies are helping, too. Banks are fighting back against credit card fraud with EMV – Europay, MasterCard and Visa – chip cards that authenticate transactions. Apple is providing a new layer of protection as well, arming millions of customers with six-digit password codes and sometimes a fingerprint on its newer model iPhones, iPads and other digital devices. And companies like InfoArmor are providing employers with targeted cyber intelligence about previously unknown threats and new bad actors.
Despite these efforts, there is no foolproof way to prevent cybercriminals from wreaking havoc. Data breaches are the new normal and the chance of getting hacked grows every day.
Perhaps the best measures of protection are staying abreast of the latest cybercrimes and putting in place personal and companywide cyber-defense programs to mitigate the risks in case of an attack.
The number and type of hacker schemes increases exponentially every day, and they’re on the minds of both consumers and business leaders from coast to coast. That certainly will be the case in 2016. Among the trends:
- We will begin to see cybercriminals use extremely creative ways to get their hands on sensitive data. The Office of Personnel Management had a taste of these methods in the recent revelation that 5.5 million fingerprint records were stolen.
- Cyberwarfare will become a household term as a significant increase in state-sponsored cyberactivity is anticipated, resulting in larger data disclosures of highly sensitive material.
- A spike in the volume and complexity of social engineering methods, or the art of tricking people into letting down their defenses, is expected – from an increase in impostor email notifications and fake technical support calls to growing threats from friends whose identities have been hijacked.
- Cloud services, which have been relatively unscathed to date, could be prime targets for an attack. Prepare yourself by backing up your photos and data onto hard drives.
- Hackers will continue to break into one computer and create a “beach head” that will allow them to move laterally, infiltrating other systems, including personal computers, tablets, smart phones via Air Drop and other WiFi compromised programs.
- The Internet of Things (IOT), an exploding network of physical objects that feature IP addresses and/or communicate with other Internet-enabled devices, likely will be a treasure trove for criminals. You never know who could be watching the baby monitor, wrist-worn fitness tracker, home cameras or your security systems.
For more information about cybercrimes and how to protect yourself, attend our free CyberSmarts webinar on Oct. 22.
Individuals, please attend our CyberSmarts webinar for consumers at 8 a.m. PST.
Employers, please attend our CyberSmarts webinar for businesses at 11 a.m. PST.
Drew Smith is founder and CEO of InfoArmor, which works with companies throughout the world to provide identity protection and privacy management solutions to their employees, members and customers, and also provides security-conscious businesses fraud-fighting solutions that combine big data analysis with actionable intelligence.