There has never been a time when online users were more at risk of having their information stolen than in our modern world.
You hear and read about new advances in technology, and everyone’s naturally excited. But behind the scenes, there’s another problem slowly emerging.
Online users, all 4.1 BILLION of us, are becoming targets to a type of crime that didn’t exist before the Internet: cyber attacks. And everyone who owns a gadget connected to the Internet is at risk of being targeted.
Millions of new devices connect to the Internet every year. And while cyber attacks can pose a huge problem to individual users, they may also have a devastating negative impact on online businesses, as well.
The Cyber Ecosystem: A Possible Solution
According to a report released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there’s a clear need for a standard that strengthens collaboration and ‘interoperability’ of different parties within a so-called ‘ecosystem’.
Which parties are we referring to? Well, it can be anyone or any institutional body that can offer valuable insight and resources for improving cybersecurity.
A shared cyber ecosystem guarantees that everyone has access, whether it’s to add, remove, or improve on the current pool of data. This makes it easier for involved parties to share information on the latest emerging threats and work together on feasible solutions.
How would this play out?
A method of standardization is essential for any technology-driven company. And for many businesses, this is already being done internally.
But for there to be an efficient identification and quantification of emerging security or privacy issues, this standard must be used on a much grander scale — preferably within the entire business IT industry, and between all cybersecurity agencies.
As mentioned above, different parties will naturally have access to the pool of data. They’ll be able to make changes as they see necessary. This makes the ecosystem incredibly dynamic and adaptive depending on the current digital environment.
Possible problems with this approach:
Naturally, an ecosystem of data can also be dangerous.
Because it’s so simple to share, change, and remove vital information, anyone with malicious intent can also easily sabotage the entire ecosystem or steal information for personal gain.
Or worse, one single hacker may create an opening for more cyberattackers to penetrate the ecosystem. At this point, it would be difficult to regain control over the entire network, and the participating parties would become more vulnerable.
Obviously, further research and development need to be done to deal with the contingencies of running a cyber ecosystem. One thing is for sure, the benefits need to outweigh the disadvantages.
How can users be more protected?
Individual gadget users don’t normally require the help of a professional security agency to protect their private information. There are numerous tools or software available online that can already offer good protection against cyber attacks.
For example, LastPass has an online feature that checks the strength of a user’s password:
Also, to deal with a variety of cybersecurity threats, an individual may need to incorporate several other measures to protect himself and his device. Again, it isn’t difficult to implement those safety measures today.
Browser extensions such as AdBlock, for example, is a fast and simple way of improving your online browsing experience without being prone to malicious ads or annoying pop-ups.
What are the security options for agencies?
While we haven’t adopted more effective solutions to create a higher level of security within our global networks, agencies and businesses still have several cybersecurity options within their reach.
1. Hire a DPO
Hiring a competent outsourced DPO, or Data Protection Officer, can provide agencies with the assurance they need to keep their valuable data assets from getting stolen or wiped out.
The common responsibilities of a Data Protection Officer include setting up key performance indicators, or KPIs, auditing controls, GDPR compliance, and making sure the business is well-prepared to tackle potential security problems.
Is it necessary to get a DPO?
Let’s say you’re a digital marketing agency working on creating a sensational SEO campaign strategy for a client. In order to do your job properly, you’d need plenty of sensitive data from this client.
If somehow, a hacker manages to hack into your security mainframe and steals this data, along with other data from different clients, you’ll face serious implications. If you had a Data Protection Officer hired, even part-time, you would have stood a much higher chance of preventing that incident from happening.
Or, in the worst case, your DPO would be able to help you in dealing with your clients regarding the compromised information both professionally and legally.
2. Identify which security events are a cause for concern
It’s normal for businesses to have multiple different security tools that turn every event into a log entry. But because agency owners don’t often have the time to sift through all the noise, the next best thing is to find a security agency offering professionally managed SIEM.
With Managed SIEM, you’re letting experts correlate and analyze the logs in real time, filtering out the irrelevant logs and isolating real, potential threats so you can implement the best solutions ASAP.
Cybersecurity Remains To Be A Growing Issue Today
Just take a look at the number of statistics and reports available on the topic of cybersecurity on Statista:
This is only natural, as people and businesses need to gain a better understanding of where we currently stand in the digital world, including the threats that we currently face.
And as if the situation wasn’t bad enough, there are several dozen different types of cybersecurity threats out there that victimize online users every day.
In 2018, the following would be among the most dangerous cyber threats to digital users and business owners:
Ransomware: Ransomware is essentially a network or device hijacking software that locks down access to your files, or the entire gadget itself unless you pay a certain amount. There are different types of ransomware, but the most serious would be the kind that encrypts your data, making it inaccessible unless you have the key password.
Depending on the nature of the data, victims will often pay the ransom. If, however, you feel the files being held ransom aren’t valuable, you can undergo a reformat of your device, losing all your files but also getting rid of the ransomware.
Cyber-physical attacks: If you’ve heard of Stuxnet, then you know how serious these attacks can be.
Basically, these viruses target physical infrastructures and hijack the systems with a definite goal in mind, usually asking for ransom before giving back control to the affected company.
Crypto-jacking: As the value of cryptocurrencies grow, so will the insatiable greed of hackers. And lately, they’ve been finding ways to breach other people’s and company’s computers to make use of their hardware for mining.
Crypto-jacking can occur even just by opening spam mail that contains a malware, or by landing on a page that’s been designed to use your device’s hardware for crypto-mining.
A Cyber Ecosystem Can Help With These Emerging Threats
While we’ve already established that a cyber ecosystem is a plausible solution, it’s far from ready to be used today. Hopefully, the idea can be developed enough within the next few years, making it less vulnerable to internal attacks, as well as sabotage.
One thing is for sure: there needs to be a change.
Online users and businesses need more security. And it’s evident that different companies, individuals, and institutions must come together at some point to develop better solutions to the growing cyber security threats we all face today.