April 13, 2022
Last updated: Sep 17, 2022
- Cyber Security is of utmost importance seeing as though we are living in a day and age of ongoing technological developments.
- It is vital that companies and individuals are aware of the various that risks they face and ensure that they cover all bases when it comes to protecting themselves as well as their private information.
- When it comes to businesses, it is imperative to take the necessary steps from the get go in order to ensure you do not run into any sort of cyber attacks in the future.
- Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions have found themselves more susceptible to cyber attacks, and this is probably owed to the fact that we all had to move to remote working and became much more reliant on our technological devices.
Six main institutions who are at risk and thus should prioritize cybersecurity:
Although it is necessary for ALL businesses to instill a sense of value around cyber security, there are 6 institutions that are believed to need it the most. Namely; healthcare, small businesses, government agencies, manufacturing, financial institutions, education and energy and utility institutions.
Firstly – healthcare:
- Due to the increased usage of technology within this sector, in terms of electronic health records as well as remote patient monitoring, would need to enhance their knowledge and invest more into cyber security.
- Due to this increase in the move to new technology, hospitals have become targets for cyber attackers conducted by hackers.
- More often than not, professionals apart from the health service team (doctors, nurses etc) usually do not have much knowledge about the cyber world and the potential threats and attacks that they might become victims to, and thus become easy victims for hackers.
- In fact, over the last three years, more than 90% of organizations within the healthcare realm have found themselves experiencing some sort of cyber attack or data breach.
- As previously mentioned, during the year 2020, many more organizations found themselves at a higher risk.
- More than one third of all attacks during this year was due to ransomware, meaning organizations and individuals were blocked from accessing their personal and sensitive information and could only access it once some sort of ransom was paid.
- Within the healthcare institution, this is a huge problem as being locked out of patients medical histories or current diagnosis can put them in a life threatening situation.
Secondly – small businesses:
- They are also at a very large risk of experiencing some sort of cyberattack.
- The reason being is pretty obvious.
- Since they are small and not yet properly established, these organizations might not have the finances or the resources to invest into cybersecurity and thus they might experience an increased amount of cyberattacks compared to other institutions.
- During 2019, 43% of all cyber attacks conducted were targeted towards small businesses.
- The main way a hacker might try to attack these organizations is through phishing, where the hacker acts as a trusted individual, convincing real employees to either click on a link that will hack the device or maybe even download a malicious file that will cause the system to crash.
Third institution – government:
- The third institution who are at an extremely high risk for cyber attacks are government agencies.
- Government agencies often hold very confidential information that might be detrimental to the public, thus making these seem extremely appealing to attack and steal data or information from.
- Ransomware is a very common technique used by hackers against these institutions.
- During 2019, the United States government had fallen victim to 79 ransomware attacks, leaving them with a large sum of $18.8 billion to pay for ransom in order to regain access to their data and private information.
Fourth institution – financial:
- The fourth institution at high risk for falling victim to hackers and being cyber attacked are financial institutions.
- The two most common methods that hackers will use to attack financial institutions are server attacks and data theft.
- A server attack is where the hacker will attempt to cause a server to crash or just make it inaccessible to authorized users, whilst data theft is illegally transferring personal and confidential information, for example individuals passwords.
- Studies have shown that more than 25% of cyberattacks that occur, are aimed towards various financial institutions and thus it is beyond imperative that these organizations maintain good security practices in order to ensure that all information as well as all data remain safe and in the hands of authorized individuals.
- It is very important that staff members are put through security training in order to try identify breaches and respond in a quick and effective manner.
Fifth institution – education:
- Education is the fifth institution who might easily fall into the trap of hackers who are trying to cause a breach or access information.
- The reason being is that over the years, educational institutions such as schools and universities have seen an increased usage of technology, for example, the use of ipads, laptops and new methods of teaching that now include technology.
Sixth – energy and utility institutions:
- Lastly, energy and utility institutions also find themselves at a high risk for cyber attacks.
- The main cause of these attacks are also ransomware, where hackers will request a large sum of money in order to give access back to the original authorized users.
- An example of this is the 2021 Colonial Pipeline outage in the US. During May of 2021, hackers were able to gain access into the largest fuel pipeline in America, they demanded payment in order to release control over it.
- This led to a gas shortage across the entire East Coast.
- This was detrimental to the country and could lead to a major national or economic loss.
Examples of big companies experiencing data breaches:
- During the year 2013, Yahoo experienced what was considered as an “epic” data breach which affected all of their customers that had accounts existing at that time.
- The number of accounts affected by this breach exceeded more than three billion accounts.
- Although financial information from these accounts were not accessed, passwords, dates of birth, names of users as well as email addresses were breached.
- This information was encrypted with security that obviously was simple for a hacker to crack. What exactly occurred has never been discovered, however a hacking collective that was based in the eastern part of Europe started selling Yahoo’s information which leads to various suspicions.
- The problem arose with the knowledge that with this stolen information (passwords, birth dates etc.) hackers can have an easier time gaining access to these users’ financial applications as well as their bank accounts.
- This company had to take the necessary steps in order to protect their customers following this incident.
- During the year 2018, Google was part of a massive data privacy scandal when it came into awareness that they too had experienced a massive data breach, exposing sensitive and personal information of more than five million of their users.
- During this data breahc, external apps were able to gain access into profiles that were not public, meaning these apps gained access to private user’s information, including their names, email addresses, occupations, age and their various genders.
- The good news for Google as well as the private users, is that to this day there has been no sign of misuse of this private and personal information.
- Following this data breach, users from Google+ had 10 months to download any of the information from their profiles and anything not downloaded was deleted from the server altogether.
- Since February 2019, individuals are not able to create Google+ profiles anymore.
- During 2014, eBay fell victim to a breach of data.
- This breach included encrypted passwords which led to eBay asking all of its users (which was more than 145 million users) to reset their original passwords.
- Hackers gained access to private information, which included the users email addresses, names, physical addresses, phone numbers and their date of birth.
- This was very dangerous for the users as most of their personal information was now public knowledge putting them in a difficult and scary position.
- This went down as one of the world’s biggest and most detrimental data breaches, as 145 million accounts were compromised during this attack.
- eBay ensured to protect their customers from any further damage by requesting that they all change their passwords for the product immediately.
- There has not been anything more that came from this but the damage could have potentially been huge.
Methods institutions and organization can utilize in order to protect themselves:
- Limit access to information
Since human error is sometimes the cause of security breaches, by limiting who has access to what system might ensure that your organization remains secure in the long run.
Firewalls are used to block any potential hacker. It is necessary that firewalls are installed on all organization-related devices, however, it is necessary that they get properly installed on every single staff member’s private computer and personal smartphone in order to protect the organization.
- Ensue that you perform vulnerability assessments
Vulnerability assessments all for identification of potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities inside the organization. Thus it is imperative to review them and once identified go on to fix them as much as possible.
There are multiple different ways in order to ensure that your wifi remains secure. Firstly, using a WPA2 address can help secure it. Secondly, it might be useful to avoid using Wired-Equivalent Privacy (WEP) in order to secure the wifi. Using artificial intelligence (AI) can help assist in bettering the protection over one’s wifi and lastly, it is imperative that the wifi network for all employees is different to the wifi network available to guests or customers coming to pay a visit.
- Train staff member appropriately
On a regular basis, employees should be re-educated about the potential risks that they face and the various methods they can take in order to avoid them. It is important to explain to staff members exactly what type of cyber risks might be occurring and what they should do if they were to find themselves in that situation in order to protect themselves as well as the organization as a whole. During 2019, human error caused 90% of all the data breaches from that year, which is extremely worrisome for founders and managers, as this means that their employees might have been making mistakes every couple of days, putting their organization at great risk. It is of utmost importance that organizations provide educational programs for their staff members, teaching them about what sort of things to look out for and placing great importance on the concept of privacy.
- Hire various IT professionals
Due to the increased usage over technology, organizations should place utmost importance over hiring individuals who are experts and specialized in these fields in order to ensure that organizations have secured all their sensitive and private information and these experts can also ensure that hackers are kept at bay.
Why is Cyber Security so important and prevalent?
- With the rise in technology usage, cybersecurity is of utmost importance.
- The fastest growing area within cybercrime is information theft, which simply is stealing private information that is not supposed to land in the hands of unauthorized users as this information could be detrimental for the authorized users.
- Cyber criminals, like hackers, are becoming more and more sophisticated and clever as each day passes.
- They are learning who are the easiest targets and the methods of attack they can utilize in order to cause the most damage.
- Data leaks can lead to detrimental consequences for all those who have been exposed, including identity theft, unauthorized users having access to social security numbers or even bank account/ credit card information, which they can wrongly use and use without any permission.
- Individuals might be robbed of thousands of dollars during this process.
- No matter our position in this world, whether we have a big corporation, a small business or merely holding access to our own personal information, we still count on using computer systems every single day.
- Thus, we need to be aware about the different cybercrimes and also make special notice that these crimes are increasing each and everyday and learn about the various ways we can reduce our risk of being exposed or exploited.
- Cyber Security protects all personal and private data and ensures that users remain safe within the public domain.
- It is important to remember that cyber threats might come from within your organization, meaning an employee can miss a cyber attack, give out information or they themselves might have a personal vendetta against the organization and conduct a cyber attack from inside the organization.
Impacts of cybercrimes:
Once a cybercrime has occured, the consequences that come along with it are vast and can affect us all greatly and deeply. If one does not note the importance of protecting oneself as well as their private and sensitive information, we can run into big and long-lasting problems in our future.
A couple of the consequences are as follows:
The amount one might need to pay following a data breach or any type of cybercrime is great. One might need to pay ransom money (which could be worth thousands of dollars) or one might need to pay to get their damaged systems repaired. This can leave an organization in a difficult financial situation, especially for small businesses who are just merely starting out and don’t necessarily have the funds to pay for the damage, possibly leading them to have to shut down the organization. It is of utmost importance that all businesses take the necessary precautions so that they will not have to run into these sorts of financial problems.
Data breaches and access into private information means that an organization can run into paying regulatory fines as a result of the cybercrimes that occurred. All organizations need to educate their staff about the various cybercrimes and take into consideration all the precautionary steps in order to reduce the risk of running into a data breach or any other type of cybercrime.
When an organization experiences a breach in their data, customers might feel completely exposed and somewhat “naked” to the public. This can lead to a great loss of trust from the customers and if their data breaches reach the media, this could deter future customers from wanting to get involved and utilize their product in the future.