New studies and reports clearly indicate that cyber attacks are not only increasing in number but are now capable of inflicting far more widespread damage than previously anticipated. In an effort to help meet these challenges, “the overall security product and service market is projected to increase at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 9%, [reaching] $86 billion by 2016.”

The problems have become so widespread that far more American consumers are now aware of these threats due to the 2013 Target holiday credit card hacking event. As many may recall, the Target incident compromised the “secure” data of 40 million payment cards and 70 million personal customer records.

Here are some added facts and statistics that should remind all business owners and consumers of the need to better protect ourselves against all of these new hacking events. Specific suggestions are then provided for bringing many of these attacks under better control.

Additional Facts Indicating the Increasing Threats Posed by Cyber Attacks

  • As LabTech’s e-book entitled, “Keep Cyber Threats from Destroying Your Clients’ Business” notes, “every business is a target, no matter its size, function or annual revenue. And security risks come from every direction – malware, social networks and even employees;”
  • According to one Ponemon Institute report, “the most costly cybercrimes are those caused by denial of service, malicious insider and web-based attacks. These account for more than 58% of all cybercrime costs per organization on an annual basis;”
  • In 2013, in addition to Edward Snowden’s  serious breach of NSA data, there were also numerous reports indicating “under-the-radar botnets stealing sensitive personally identifiable information from U. S. data aggregators;”
  • The year 2013 also ushered in “the evolution of attack vectors using devious social engineering techniques, special-purpose-built malware and the exploitation of less protected telephony communication channels;”
  • Cyber criminals have become so much more savvy that they are now making their intrusions a lot harder to detect by encrypting their communications and the very data they’re stealing;
  • “McAfee catalogs more than 100,000 new malware samples every day, which translates to about one new threat every second.” (See: Same LabTech e-book referenced above);
  • New database intrusions are even being disguised so that they’ll appear to be the work of actual humans — when in fact they are “automated script coming from a botnet.”

Suggested Ways to Combat These Many New and Continuing Cyber Attacks

  • Increased cybersecurity training must be required at least once or twice a year for all employees. Furthermore, employee negligence or purposeful compromise of data should never be tolerated. One study indicated that 78% of IT security practitioners attribute at least one data breach every two years to employee or other insider activities; (See: Same LabTech e-book referenced above);
  • Americans legislators and consumers must demand immediate issuance of the more secure credit cards that have been prevalent in Europe for over a decade. We must no longer allow this country’s credit card companies to issue any more “magnetic stripe” cards. The safer cards offering the “chip-and-PIN system” feature an embedded microchip that makes it much more expensive and difficult for criminals to obtain private consumer information. These cards require consumers to insert their cards into terminals and then enter their PINs or signatures;
  • Everyone must re-evaluate earlier decisions to use extensive “cloud computing.”  This type of data storage poses new risks since you’re allowing unknown parties to protect your data without the immediate ability to track all of their efforts to protect you;
  • Employees must be forbidden to access social Web sites while using company computers. Far too many spammers and cybercriminals constantly launch new attacks against victims there. Even accessing personal email accounts on company computers poses unnecessary risks. Fortunately, many companies are now closely monitoring employee usage of office computers and forbidding any usage for personal needs;
  • Companies must require employees using employer-issued smartphones to always use passcodes. At present, “only 67% of companies require passcodes to unlock mobile devices.” (This fact referencing CompTIA as its source is noted in LabTech’s e-book entitled, “Keep Cyber Threats from Destroying Your Clients’ Business.)

As government and private investigations into the many 2013 cyber attacks continue, a number of more proactive means for protecting individual consumer, government and corporate information will surely be developed. Until then, everyone must be willing to pay for the most thorough cybersecurity protection available.