On summer weekends we often find ourselves wanting to unplug from everything not associated with cookouts, swimming and playing outdoors. But if you were following the news this weekend you may have noticed a story about hackers targeting the email accounts of the British Parliament. The accounts of 90 MPs were compromised in what was labeled a "brute force attack" that left the British government scrambling to secure their systems.
This instance was an example of one of the four major types of cyber attacks. And as our world is increasingly dependent on the connectivity of the internet, it's important to understand the challenges associated with keeping our information secure. To increase awareness, we're highlighting each of the forms of cyber attacks. Knowing what to look for will help you in putting together a cyber security strategy to protect yourself and your data.
The Four Cyber Security Threats
- Cyber Crime:
Of all the types of cyber security threats, this is the most common. As the majority of cyber attacks are initiated by profit seekers, cyber crime is the one threat that banks and retailers spend the most time fighting. Whether a hacker is stealing credit card and account numbers or skimming money off business transactions, these intrusions into our data and our accounts are a priority for security experts to stop. You also play an important part in protecting your information by guarding your credit transactions, carefully reviewing monthly statements, and keeping an eye out for devices like skimmers at gas stations.
- Cyber Espionage:
For companies and agencies that have classified and private data, cyber espionage is a major concern. Hackers will try to infiltrate this information for a variety of reasons, including dissemination to competing companies or nations. Government agencies like the NSA are a prime target for cyber espionage, but in the expanding world of the internet of things, this could conceivably spread to private citizens just going about their daily lives. So it's important for organizations and individuals alike to put practices in place to protect against cyber spying.
- Cyber Nuisance:
Hacktivists, who are computer hackers whose activity is aimed at promoting a social or political cause, are the primary perpetrators of cyber nuisance (although there are those who engage in these tactics for personal or financial gain as well). These hackers are usually looking to gather data on companies or government agencies that they then release to the public or they engage in hacking to control the outcome of political or financial decisions. And sometimes this cyber nuisance can be more nightmare than nuisance. For instance, in 2011 a hacktivist group hacked and shut down the Egyptian government sites until President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. Hacktivists were also responsible for the 2014 Sony hack that resulted in the release of confidential internal documents and emails of senior executives.
- Cyber Warfare:
This particular threat has experienced increased news coverage recently with the release of the WannaCry virus and other governmental hacking efforts. Cyber Warfare is usually perpetrated by nation states against other nations in an effort to promote national interests or gain a competitive advantage. However, cyber warfare can also be used by nations or private entities to secure commercial gain. And countries across the globe are gearing up for cyber warfare. Recent legislation introduced in Canada would allow the Canadian government the ability to launch cyber attacks against foreign governments although it restricts the Communications Security Establishment from targeting Canadians or Canadian networks as well as forbidding the CSE to hurt or kill anyone through its online actions.