9 Biggest Threats to IT, and Best Solution to Help You Stay Safe
In the early 2000’s, when you heard of hacking it was highly likely that it was a case of enthusiastic kids messing up with company websites, mostly for bragging rights. It was something that smart kids did for fun, the mischievous kind of fun. While companies might have suffered financially, the hacker only had bragging rights to show for his efforts.
But not anymore; the honeymoon is over and the bad guys have moved into cyber space with all they have. Today, money is at the center of the hacker’s activities. And the amounts involved are frightening. We believe that it will only be a while before hackers hit the billion dollar mark illegal earnings and then there is no telling what their reach will be. We don’t mean to scare you but truth is, we are facing a battle online, and the enemy knows his onions.
Below, we look at 9 of the biggest threats online.
#1. Organized cybercrime groups
When we say organized cybercrime, we want you to picture the mafia online. But it goes deeper; these cybercrime units have a proper corporate structure, division of labor and a company vision. We are talking about well-funded organizations that have led to traditional organized criminals like drug lords and human traffickers getting attracted into the field.
These organizations employ some of the best brains in IT and continue to threaten our security by keeping a step ahead of online security experts. Makes you miss the hobbyist hacker of the 2000’s, doesn’t it?
#2. The Hacktivist
Early day hacking had a socialist and political undertones to it and while that has greatly reduced today, we still have groups like the hackers Anonymous group whose sole purpose is activism on the internet. These hackers will attack a website or company online in protest to something.
The aim of their hacks is to either frustrate clients of the company under attack or take the site completely offline. What these hackers do is illegal, but you can tell that to the birds. Often these hackers get caught and are charged in a court of law, prompting their peers to launch more attacks-it is a vicious cycle this one.
#3. The Fleece
This type of cybercriminal is only interested in making a quick killing. The hacker will use methods like cloning real log in pages to bank accounts for example in the hope that you will be fooled into entering your details on the fake page among other sophisticated ways.
The fleece will also be involved in financial crime like money laundering and often lives an exhibitionist expensive lifestyle paid for by his ‘internet marketing’ business. The fleece can make anywhere between hundreds and millions of dollars, depending on his level of expertise and sophistication.
#4. The Merchants of death
Okay, not literally. What we refer to as the merchants of death are the malware developers. Software developers have their evil twin, the malware developer. Cybercrime revolves around malicious programs and scripts developed by these evil geniuses. The merchant may use the malware to commit crimes or they may elect to sell their creations to the highest bidder. It’s all in a day’s work.
#5. The Corporate Spy, Internet style
This type of criminal is also called the Determined Human Adversary-DHA. The criminal is hell bent on stealing confidential information for the purpose of emails and selling to the competition. The DHA goes to great lengths to gain access to top secret files. Needless to say the DHA is the enemy of modern business.
#6. The compromised web as a whole
Now even the owner of a website-the webmaster- is an end user too. With that in mind, it is possible to understand that his computer gets infected too. There are many websites that have been unknowingly infected by Trojan Horses making them tools of insecurity.
There have been cases where Trojan developers hire add space on popular sites and use their ads to infect user computers. It the wild west all over, internet style.
#7. The botnet makers
Botnets used to be a preserve of their developers. They used to be a tool for their makers to explore the internet and carry out their agenda but today, the economics of botnets is evolving, and we should be wary. Botnets are being rented out. Yes, you can rent a botnet for an hour or any other time duration, do your dirty work and return it to its owner. The cybercriminal of today does not need to own sophisticated scripts and botnets, there are professionals whose sole activity is the letting of botnets.
#8. The super-malware
Instead of writing a simple malicious script or making a virus, the cybercriminal in this category makes hybrid malware. This means that the malware will attack from many directions, making it very hard for security experts to catch the malware. This increasingly sophisticated malware is making the war on cybercrime more difficult than it was previously.
#9. Cyber warfare
We reserved the Armageddon of cybercrime for last. Cyber warfare refers to the full blown cyber military class action sanctioned by a national government against another. It is not something that we experience daily but when it happens the after effects are devastating.
Cyber warfare has been reported in North Korea where Pyongyang complained that the US was attacking its nuclear establishments. With many nations increasingly digitalizing service delivery, the next world war might be fought online, and the internet as we know it might be changed forever.
A simple defense against some of the threats above
Let us start by saying that no one method can fully protect you. It is a sad admission, one that has been borne out of the realization that cyber criminals are always innovating against defense methods. While there is not a lot you can do in the event of a full blown cyber war, there are steps that you can take to protect your computer from passwords thieves and small time cyber criminals.
There is something that you can do to protect your business against attacks from the remote spy. What we recommend is Virtual Private Network, VPN. But we caution you that not all VPNs are equal, some are light years-okay, not literally- ahead of their peers when it comes to security protocol, device compatibility and anonymity measures.
A good VPN provider that many people in internet security use is HideMyAss. The UK based provider is both affordable and easy to use. Again, there are many VPN providers out in the market, but you will have to make a choice based on your budget and specific requirements.