It can be easy to think that cybercrime is a problem that only the wealthy and big business need to worry about. What does the average person have to offer a hacker? You go to work, you pay your bills, you shop online for great deals. You’re not exactly a high value target, right?
For a cybercriminal, any opportunity is a good opportunity. Even if you believe you’re a too small of a target, you may still be at risk.
Trust, as an illusion
Individuals and hacker groups with malicious intent take often extreme steps to gather information that they can use to enhance their strategic attack. Hackers have sophisticated tools at their disposal to make it infinitely easier for them to harvest data.
Phishing has long been a security concern, but today’s hackers are taking their focus to a more direct type of attack. Spear-phishing attacks are tailored to the individual person. Any small bit of information that a malicious person can gather about you can help them to access your personal data.
For the hacker, trust is the key issue. The more information gathered, the stronger the profile they will be able to build on their target. The goal is to accumulate enough data about you so that there is the illusion of trust.
What might this look like? In many cases, the hacker will try to replicate communications from a company or entity that you trust. The more details that the hacker was able to gather about you, the more likely it is that they will be able to establish and maintain this illusion long enough for them to achieve their malicious goals.
You could receive an email that looks like it’s from your credit card company, your mobile carrier, or even a medical provider.
How effective a successful cyberhacker is can vary significantly. It will largely depend on the type of motivation of the hacker.
Identity theft is one of the most damaging concerns you could be faced with. It can take a toll on your ability to simply live a normal life. Your credit rating could take a serious hit, as an example. You may find yourself on the hook for thousands of dollars. For purchases you didn’t make. What’s worse, it can take years to repair the damage. It can be time consuming, costly, and it can be mentally exhausting to deal with.
The fallout from a malicious hack of your data could impact confidential medical history records. Your medical data is very private and personal, protecting it is important. In the hands of a malicious individual or group, you could find yourself the target of financial blackmail. Or concerns that impact your insurance coverage and your ability to get your needed prescription medication.
Hackers care about your access
Several years ago, there was a significant scandal that even got the attention of celebrity gossip shows. A website with a somewhat questionable focus had a serious data breach that resulted in user data being compromised and leaked to the press. While you may not be using websites that are questionable to some, you may have access to other systems that benefit a hacker group.
Certainly, your personal data can be the driving factor for a cyberattack. But quite often, it’s the resources and the system access you have that can be the overall goal for someone with malicious intent. It’s’ a commonly held misconception that if you don’t have anything of value on your device then you’re not at risk of an attack. Or that hacker groups have nothing to gain if they copy over everything from your device.
Resources are important commodities. The data stolen from you could be used to launch a more focused and intense attack on the primary target of the hacker group. In addition, botnets with access to your system can now take on malicious goals.
Hackers can exploit the knowledge that they have accumulated about their target in order to gain access to systems that may otherwise be difficult to reach. This can prove to be a serious concern in banking, healthcare, and education.
An example of where this can become a serious security breach involves a government group and their eating habits. Credit card charges were examined to determine that many people in this group used the same restaurant for breakfast and lunch. The hacking group was able to gain access to the restaurant’s website. They then replaced the restaurant’s digital menu with one of their own, imbedded with malicious code. All the hackers needed to do was to wait until one of the government employees viewed the menu on their device that also had access to otherwise secure government systems.
This is known as a watering hole attack. It can be very effective, and it can allow hackers access to systems that they would otherwise find difficult to get into.
Creativity is the only limit truly facing malicious people or groups.
How can you combat cyberthreats?
Many people and businesses tend to think about preventing cyberattacks once they’ve fallen victim to one or when there’s been a serious threat reported on the news. In truth, we need to alter our attitudes and form a fundamental understanding about what it means to be online and to be a target. Every one of us is a target. There is no person or business too small or too unimportant to be considered a potential target.
It’s also vital that businesses alter their attitudes about incident detection and what it takes to address a security incident. Learning from experience can only allow us to get better at going on the defense. There needs to be a concerted effort, across the board, to take cybersecurity seriously rather than simply considered it to be a costly auditing add-on that could be potentially neglected. Many organizations only view cybersecurity as a task that falls under the banner of compliance. This can lull you into believing that the bare minimum to meet compliance is all that’s needed.
It is vital that organizations take steps to improve security for their business and for their consumers. Avoid trying to simply pass standard checks for compliance. View compliance as a baseline with great room for improving overall security. This simple step can help you to avoid costly security incidents that can result in long-lasting damage for the individual and business both.
Looking to learn more? Start a conversation with a knowledgeable member of our team!