Cyber Attacks – The current biggest threat

By November 14, 2016Blog Post

Cyber Attacks will explode in this coming year

It is dominating the world’s tabloids on a weekly basis; Cyber Attacks. No longer can we deny the great danger of cyber criminals attacking our private computers, companies (big and small) and even our governments. No one is safe anymore and people should get informed well on this topic. Cybercriminals are more organized and better funded than they have ever been before. Which is one of the reasons why the number of attacks and the force of attacks has exploded for the past 2 years. With this article, I would like to inform people once again on the current threats but also on what you can do to be safer.

Civilians, companies and governments worldwide are being attacked on a daily basis true cyber attacks from foreign countries. Personal data, company data, and online terror usually are the main goals for these digital criminals. To correct and repair the made damage of these attacks governments worldwide have to spend millions of dollars on a yearly basis. Usually, the attacks lead back to countries such as Russia and the United states, but recently also China, Ukraine, Germany, and France have joined the list.

The biggest problem is that civilians and smaller companies still think they are under the radar and can pass by unnoticed. Recent numbers show that everyone is in danger when surfing online. Malware (phishing), Trojan horses, ransomware and Ddos-attacks can be used on anyone and by anyone. But these attacks are just breadcrumbs compared to the large attacks and targets we recently see more and more.

“Cyber attacks causing World War 3 are a real possibility”

Digital Espionage

Countries like Russia, China, and the USA are the key players in the online cybercrime. The constant online battles between these countries force the world to become more aware of cyber-attacks and to protect themselves better. Cyber attacks causing World War 3 are a real possibility as the stakes are getting higher and hackers win more sensitive online battles. Only recently Russian hackers managed to hack into the servers of the Democratic Party in the USA exposing tons of sensitive information regarding the nomination of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. The FBI then stated it would plan a cyber attack against the Russians, which created a lot of tensions between the countries. The Russians have also been involved in a total shutdown of the French TV station TV5 Monde, which nearly forced the channel to close its doors permanently. Only with this attack, the Russians acted as the Islamic State, which fooled the local authorities for a long time and made it hard to track back the original location of the attackers.

These large-scale attacks are a huge danger to the national security of each country in the world. Therefore it is of high importance that each government understands the current threats and invests in it. Cyber Attacks evolve every year and if you don’t keep up you will pay the price for it.

Terrorist Cyber Attacks

Europe has been the main target for recent terrorist attacks. According to rumors the Islamic State (IS) is shifting its focus more and more to the online world in the shape of Cyber Attacks on governments. But they are not the only ones. England appears to be the main target for IS, but also countries like Holland and Belgium are a risk group. The British Minister of Finance George Osborne announced begin this year that the budget to fight cybercrime will be doubled. In 2020 they are planning to spend a whopping 1,9 billion pounds to fight cybercrime and attacks.

Osborne indicated that the cyber attacks are a big risk that could cause hundreds of lives should the terrorists gain access to facilities such as electrical power plants, nuclear plants or computer systems of airports and hospitals. Since this year the so called “hybride conflicts” on the Internet have increased and surpassed the normal “on the ground” conflicts. Over 450 international companies in Britain are at risk. And this is just England we are talking about. The attacks and risks for the United States are even bigger. Investing and maintaining the Digital Security should be one of the main focus points for each country starting from this year.

“basically anyone can rent a botnet or pay for a direct attack”

DDos-attacks

Distributed Denial of Service-attacks, shortly called DDos-attacks has become a real trend since 2013 to attack companies. A DDos-attack is known for generation a huge amount of traffic focused on a certain webserver of a company. Due to the large amount simulated logins the servers will eventually get overtasked and go down.

Usually most DDos-Attacks run on a so-called “botnet”. These are networks of computers connected with the Internet that are infected with malicious software and have become the host for the attack. All these computers are controlled by a so-called “mothership” that sends spam to all these computers. Botnets sometimes consist of thousands or even millions of infected computers that are used for these attacks.

Many big companies have been victim of these attacks the past years. The DDos_attacks took offline some of the most popular sites on the web, including Netflix, Twitter, Spotify, Reddit, CNN, PayPal, Pinterest and Fox News – as well as newspapers including the Guardian, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. Until now these attacks are hard to track back and no one claims responsibility.

What makes these attacks so common is the fact that basically anyone can rent a botnet or pay for a direct attack. By the end of 2012 researchers of Trend Micro found out that in Russia you can access a “Botnet” to start a personal attack for as little as 2USD per hour! For the small amount of 10USD you could already send up to 1 million spam mails. Because of this these DDos-Attacks can come from everywhere and this makes it very hard to control or monitor it.

Randsomeware

Considered one of the key problems that businesses are facing this year. Randsomeware is a virus that is connected to an email that is then send to a computer. As soon as you open the e-mail it will activate the virus, which will then look for the most important files on your pc. These files will directly be locked and you will no longer be able to have access to them. To regain access to the files ransom needs to be paid to the senders of the virus.

The most known and active ransomeware at the moment are called Coinvault and Bitcryptor. Their virus has been spread over more then 20 countries worldwide. Local authorities in several countries have been working together with Kaspersky Lab in order to shut the software down. Thanks to this cooperation experts have managed to get several decryptionkeys that can be used to unlock files without needing to pay the ransom to these cybercriminals.

Malware (also called Phishing) with a Trojan Downloader

Civilians and companies are also repeatedly attacked by so-called “malware” which is a virus usually send my e-mail. People are often asked to fill in data from a link or to open an attachment, which carries the virus. This scheme is also called Phishing.

Information for malware is usually extracted from websites such as Linkedin where a lot of personal and business data can be found. Should you ever receive a suspicious e-mail then you should delete it directly without opening it. Should you have opened it then directly install a antivirus program such a Kaspersky or Norton. These programs cost something but can help you with deleting the virus. The longer the virus is active on your pc the more permanent the damage will become. In this case formatting the whole computer would be the only option in order to fully get rid of the virus.

“your data is at risk everywhere you go without knowing it”

The great danger of public Wi-Fi-hotspots

We all love to hear the term “FREE Wi-Fi” whenever we go somewhere. Using public Wi-Fi is very handy and saves you own data. What a lot of people don’t know is that these public Wi-Fi hotspots are a great danger for your personal data. While you are logged in to a public Wi-Fi criminals easily can hack into your device and retrieve personal data such as e-mails, messages and online banking data. Since public Wi-Fi is everywhere (train, library, restaurants) your data is at risk everywhere you go without knowing it.

One of the most successful ways of protecting yourself from getting hacked while connected to a public Wi-Fi is by using a VPN (Virtual Private Networks connection). This software makes it a lot harder for criminals to use the so called MITN-attacks with the Wi-Fi network. CloakIVPN, AirVPN and Freedome are some very popular VPN-services that you can use on your laptop, pc, smartphone and tablet.

Protect your company against cyber attacks

At my current job as an online marketer in the insurance business I get confronted with attacks on our private data on a daily basis. As a company it is very important to make a “plan of action” should cyber criminals attack you. Six good tips I can give are as follows:

  1. Make a strategic IT security plan
  2. Make sure your online infrastructure is well protected
  3. Inform and train your staff about IT guidelines and rules.
  4. Make a “emergency scenario” plan should you become a victim of a cyber attack
  5. Commit yourself to a reliable IT supplier/servicer
  6. Know the dangers and your vulnerability, size does not matter! You always can become a victim of a cyber attack.

Cyber risk insurances against Cyber Attacks

Modern day problems need modern day solutions. That is why more and more insurances agencies are offering Cyber risk insurances for companies. A perfect example is the so-called “CyberEdge” of AIG, which allows your company to be fully protected against data damage/stealing and other online risks. Your company will be able to receive damage coverage, innovative tools, constant access to interesting information and data, juridical expertise and global reach. In the case of a possible cyber attack you will at least be covered financially to keep possible damage controlled.

I hope you find this article to come in use. Should you have more questions regarding this article please do not hesitate to contact me. I love to help out my fellow online people.

About Marco de Groen

A flying Dutchman who is Graphic Designer  Multimedia Designer | Webdesigner | Blogger | Illustrator | Infographics | Social Media | Brand Manager | Branding | Owner/Founder Asian Customs and The Daily Roar and Blackstone Design

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