While world is moving rapidly towards digitization and automation, cyber security is becoming a growing concern in so many different ways. Cyber crime is becoming more and more sophisticated and advanced to an extreme where it was able to make giant economies, businesses, national security authorities and even governments to be paranoid in time to time. Can cyber-attack be the next form of terrorism?
Data is Power
Data and information are the most powerful tools in the digital era. More and more sensitive and important data is being transferred to digital space as we speak. Having access to these sensitive data and information gives immense power. Having a centralized data base make many powerful organizations vulnerable. It has given power to cyber criminals to threaten a government or an established bank with millions of customers, by sitting in front of a computer.
In the history of the mankind, terrorism was about weapons, gun power and having a big army. They highjacked planes, bombed trains and got innocent lives hostile to demand ransom. These acts of terrorism take years of planning, many people involved and can be very expensive as well.
However, most of the information and data being transferred to cyberspace, have made things easy and cost effective for cyber criminals. Many countries around the world have online control systems in power utilities, water treatment services, health and emergency services and even national security services. This has created more focused points of attack for criminals.
How Terrorists Used Internet
Internet and modern technology have been a great tool for criminals. United Nations has published an elaborated document on the use of the internet for terrorist purposes. As per this document, terrorist have been using internet and technology in several forms.
They have been using internet to promote their malicious propaganda through various virtual and written media. This has helped them to build groups of people who were convinced by their ideologies. This has made it easy for terrorist groups to recruit people to turn their propaganda in to action. They have used internet to reach out to these recruits all around the world and radicalize them to believe in the malicious course. These terrorist groups have used the technology and internet to raise funds from people around the world and finally to even plan and execute their terrorist acts.
Types of Cyber Attacks.
The development and advancement in technology has made cyber threats also advanced. Highly skilled hackers and cyber specialists are developing extremely sophisticated tools as we speak. Let’s see what are the types of cyber attacks around us.
Ransomware – This is one of the most famous type of cyber attack. Cyber criminals will create a software which can encrypt or extort data from a targeted data base and demand for a ransom to give an unlock code or to restore your data.
Phishing – Phishing is about obtaining sensitive information while pretending to be a trustworthy party over the internet. Phishing emails can make you divulge sensitive information such as revealing credit card details, give away important documents of your company etc. These emails can be extremely convincing with genuine logos, information and names of people you may know.
Hacking – There are highly talented hackers with sophisticated software which are able to hack in to a corporate data base and take over control. Hacking a bank database, credit card database, a virtual property data base or a national security data base can make damage in mammoth scale. There were instances of hacking which has crippled giant financial institutions and even governments.
Data Leakage – With COVID-19 outbreak, many organizations started giving access to their data bases through remote and private devices of their staff. This has made the corporate systems and data bases more vulnerable as the cyber criminals can attack a private device with less security and gain access to important and sensitive information. This is a concern for individuals as well. Cyber criminals can use your pictures and other information stored in your mobile phones or personal computers for malicious purposes and create tremendous damage.
Insider threats – There were many instances of staff leaking out important corporate information or give away access to cyber criminals. Staff may tend to do this due to a monitory gain, malicious intend or even due to a blackmail.
#cybersecurity is becoming a growing concern day by day. However would you fall for a #tweet from @elonmusk asking to send #Bitcoin so he can send you double of it? Unlikely 🤔#technology
Major US Twitter accounts hacked in Bitcoin scam https://t.co/YfVW3lyROf
— FINTECH with Dilu ™ (@FinTechDilu) July 16, 2020
Be Safe in Cyber Space
Being aware of the cyber crimes and take necessary action to protect yourself has become similarly or even more important as physically protecting yourself from criminals and thieves. Most of the instances we as individuals or organizations have to make a mistake allowing cyber criminals to take advantage. As an example to protect our house from a break in we will ensure we have proper locks, a security system, CCTV cameras in place, security alarms and sometimes a dog as well. Criminals will be watching and if we put our guard down, they will take advantage.
Similarly, we have to take precaution to safeguard ourselves in the cyber space. Let’s see what we can do.
Passwords – Have strong passwords. It definitely can’t be your birthday or your pets name. Have different passwords for different applications. Don’t write them on your note book or save them in your mobile. Don’t ever give away your password.
Avoid Opening Suspicious Links – There are no any Saudi prince or an unknown uncle who want to transfer wealth to you. Nothing comes free. Those links, emails, messages are malware. Don’t fall for them.
Use Anti-virus Software – Use a good anti-virus software on your devices. Make sure they are updated and active at all time. Don’t ignore the notifications from this software. It’s trying to warn you and protect you.
Be Aware of Phishing – Genuine companies or people will never send you an email and ask for sensitive information. Do not fall for the logo, the sender’s name or designation. Report them for phishing.
Invest on Cyber Security – It is very important for organizations to have cyber security mechanisms in place. Investing in cyber security will prevent many future destruction and expenses which may have to occur due to a data breach. Have proper anti-virus software, firewalls and IT support to prevent an attack.
Train Your Staff – Ensure your staff is aware of cyber attacks and educated on how to react to a cyber attack well in advance. Make sure not to give access to sensitive information to everyone.
Don’t be Vulnerable – Always backup your information. Be ready to shut down your systems. Use two factor authentications. Track your devices via GPS and erase data if necessary. Don’t be a victim.
Future of Cyber Attack
Intensity and damage through cyber attack will increase with the development of technology. Cyber crimes are becoming more and more sophisticated day by day. Advanced technologies such as quantum computing, 5G and 6G technology, artificial intelligence will not only be used for the betterment of human kind Click To Tweet They also will be used by cyber criminals and cyber terrorists. As individuals and organizations, we have to invest our time, energy and resources to face these attacks.
Technologies such as blockchain will be a great tool to eliminate having a central point of target for data and information. Blockchain is distributed by design. However, it will not eliminate the risk. Let’s be aware and be informed. Let’s not become a victim. Let’s take control.