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The steady trend towards digitalization has been occurring for a long time, and as of lately, a new type of crime market has risen alongside digitalization. In recent years, companies all over the world have been affected by some form of cybersecurity issue whether that be attacks to infrastructure or momentary paralyzation of the company itself through the exploitation of security measures. Over the years the number of attacks all around the world has increased exponentially with many more cyber-attacks succeeding every year.
Alongside increased cyber-attacks, the potency of such attacks has also rampantly increased and threatens country infrastructure and economic expense. With the increase in technological advancements, cyber-attack methods have also increased. There are many steps the public can take to protect themselves from a cyber-attack, but gaining knowledge is the first step. There are imposing risks concerning the failure of cybersecurity and recently countries, organizations, and companies have been affected by cyber-attacks. The gigantic threat to cybersecurity taking the form of cyber-attacks has risen and informing the public about the several types of existing cyber threat methods, impacts, implications, and urgency are vital to exposing it as an emergent issue.
The intention behind a cyber-attack and cyber-crimes are to infiltrate and extract information from a company, organization, or government database that may be susceptible to attack and due to the nature of cyberspace and security measures as a whole, it isn’t difficult for hacker to access sensitive information, especially when hackers can exploit holes and lack of security measures in a system.
This is evident in the text ‘Ghost in The Wires’ a story written by Kevin Mitnick recounting his real-life adventures as the worlds most wanted hacker. In the text, the author recounted many instances when he broke into databases and stole various valuable files and resources. The author recounted how he has ‘ hacked into some of the largest companies on the planet and penetrated the most resilient computer systems ever developed’ (Mitnick and Simon) and he achieves this due to a lack of security measures which exemplifies how large companies in the real world have many weaknesses that hackers such as Mitnick exploit every day to gain access to hidden data. In the text, Mitnick also indulges in learning about any newly ‘reported security vulnerabilities’ that could help leverage hacking, (Mitnik and Simon) relating to how quickly attackers around the world constantly find new ways to exploit important systems and databases. By discovering new methods of security breaching, no matter how much security there may be, hackers will always find a backdoor to use. Although the threats posed by hackers is minuscule when compared to the other cyber-security threats, hackers are able to steal high-value information from major companies, helping accelerate the threat to cyber-security.
Over the years, the frequency of cyber-attacks has continued to increase, and during recent analysis, cyber-attacks have increasingly targeted higher value targets for financial gain. In a current cyber threat report done by the National Cybersecurity Centre in the UK, the weekly threat reports for December 2018 concluded that ‘The volume of data breaches in recent months has been significant, so it remains important that individuals and businesses remain vigilant to the threat of breaches.'(Weekly Threat Report 7th December 2018). One major attack instance shown indicated that over ‘500 million Marriott/Westin Hotels customers’ had their personal data leaked which serves as an example to demonstrate that cyber-attacks do affect millions of unsuspecting victims every week (Weekly Threat Report). Moreover, there are various methods that malicious intending criminal groups approach exploiting cyber security, these include, DDOS attacks (Denial of service attacks), intrusion attacks, de-authentication attacks, phishing fraud, ransomware, and many others. Although some intrusion methods are minor, recent amplifications in technology have augmented cyber-attack commonality by unreasonable quantities. For instance, Denial of service (DDOS) attacks overwhelm software and machines to the degree of malfunction, and as recently as 2015, the CDN of India has conducted research and determined that these attacks have ‘ increased about 180% by the end of the year 2015 compared to the previous year. ‘ (Chakkaravarthy, et al. 195). By these standards, the rate at which cyber-attacks flourish presents an immediate threat to the overall wellbeing of the internet and society around the world. With the growth in frequency of these strikes, the call for extensive action grows as accelerating rates pierce into the territory of companies and start to threaten countries alike.
At the company level, cyber threats can be quite destructive to company growth and stability, often costing companies ‘millions of money and billions of data,’ however, due to the current increase of cyber-threat strength they have the potential to threaten entire countries as well (Chakkaravarthy, et al. 195). In a journal studying the potential threats and the security of nations, the author discussed how various major country infrastructures could fall victim to cyber-attacks. A great example of a civilian structure is an electrical grid because as society human beings use electricity every day for their needs and the demand continues to grow. In the article, however, it is discussed how recently due to the ‘cost and oversight’ electrical grids in various countries have failed to be ‘kept in pace with increased threats’ (Adams 52). As a result, major structures such as electrical grids can progressively become prone to cyber-crimes and attacks, in general, resulting in massive damage to ‘transportation, water, food supplies, and telecommunications’ (Adams 52). A disruption to major infrastructure such as this could have massive impacts on the mind of the people and overall well-being of the affected country. Moreover, apart from major civilian structures, governmental structures such as the Air Force Network Operation Centers are not safe from cyber- threat either. According to an article written by former serving 1st Lt John Cobb, an Air University officer heading the Information Engineering Branch, they lease the communication between bases ‘from private telecommunication companies’ (Cobb 82). Likewise, private telecommunication networks are ‘vulnerable to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.’ (Cobb 82). If cyber-threats attack government structures as important as any military Communications Network, any country would be crippled in in an instant by an attack of such magnitude. Also, due to minimal maintenance and security, attackers can steal a plethora of sensitive information and threaten the security of the population in any country. This further shows that cyber-security is an issue offering major threats that need avoidance.
The envisionment for a digital-oriented future is a rapidly approaching reality and as such, alarming developments in the field of cyber-security unfold. Like a virus, the spread of cyber-threat has prominently increased because of worldwide progression and continues to hasten. Therefore, there has been an increase in the commonality in the number of cyber-attacks worldwide. Moreover, cyber-attack methods vary, ranging from simple DDOS attacks to aggressive ransomware attacks that take advantage of exploits in the targeted system. As of recently, the development of new cyber-threats is directly proportional to the increase in technology, which has only served to amplify their severity. As a result of the increase in new exploit methods, major companies have been affected by cyber-attacks which have grown to have the potential of threatening entire nation-states as well. Thus, as the urgency of cyber-threats continues to increase, raising public knowledge about the problem at hand is critical. Hence, by informing the public about the impacts, methods, effects, implications, and urgency exposes why the surging cyber-threat needs to be recognized as a major threat to security.
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