A brief look at how cyber-attacks affect us all…

Cyber attacks can happen to any business

You can look at this from two angles, how cyber-attacks affect personal data and privacy, as well as the impact on the political, economic, and social systems we live in. It’s important to keep in mind that cyber-attacks are quite broad and aren’t just those that make headlines. Your average business has a 1:2 chance of a cyber attack! The average person also needs to be increasingly cautious when it comes to protecting their personal data. The implications for the average person range from identity theft to financial losses to reputational damage resulting from non-consensual data dumps. Email accounts, social media sites, and other personal information have already been compromised (e.g., Equifax, Sony and the NHS breaches).

Safety precautions everyone should follow

This trend is forecast to continue, the average person should follow some simple tenets to safety one of the most robust methods being multi-factor authentication (your phone/ card reader), password security, etc. These measures are still not the norm. For instance, Google recently reported that less than 10% of Gmail users employ two-factor authentication. These steps need to be more widely implemented by users. The New York Times has a great, interactive tracker for each individual to explore the extent of their personal data exposure due to cyber-attacks.

Importantly, cyber-attacks are going to continue attackers are learning from previous attacks and honing their skills when it comes to integrating cyber-attacks with data dumps that contain a mixture of real and false information.

French presidential election cyber attack

The attack during the 2018 French presidential election was a good example of this even though the intended effect was not achieved. When news of the latest attack occurs, it is extremely beneficial to consider the source of the report. What are their motivations and when is the timing of the attack? Considering these factors can be one of the best ways to counter the impact of these cyber-attacks, and this doesn’t pertain just to elections. Global crises, social unrest, and boycotts occur regularly in recent years many due to a cyber-attack combined with disinformation. The target set of global events and organizations vulnerable to cyber-attacks is expanding rapidly this will have both direct and indirect effects on the average person. The Olympics are a great, recent example of how a cyber-attack may impact the social environment of average individuals.

Protect yourself from cyber attack

Finally, returning to the individual level, it’s important to remember that although high profile breaches garner the most media attention, many cyber-attacks are extremely personal and can be deeply stressful. Hacked emails, social accounts, webcams, and mobile phones provide some of the numerous attack vectors for domestic assailants. These can leave people feeling vulnerable due to the intrusion of their privacy. The proliferation and accessibility of digital weapons, spyware and other surveillance tools can be implanted, and have been used in cases ranging from cyberbullying to domestic abuse. There are numerous online resources and organizations whose main goal is to support victims and protect privacy but knowledge of these attack methods and general cyber awareness are key tools we need to use to minimise the impacts of these attacks.

If you would like to know more about how to protect your business or would like to arrange an IT System Health/Security Review, feel free to call the WestSpring team on 0117 403 455 or visit our website at westspring-it.co.uk and we will be happy to talk you through getting your business protected and secured.