Experts Talk Present-Day Threats to Cyber Security
Online and Mobile Safety Three cyber-security professionals discuss the challenges facing businesses and consumers looking to enhance their safety online.
Why is cyber security an important topic right now?
John Molloy: The impact that the internet is having on young people and on society in general is profound and has become significantly more pronounced since the dominance of the smartphone. There are incredible educational advantages to having easy access to the internet. But, as we are all acutely aware, it does present some disadvantages, too. Our challenge as parents is how do we manage our children’s interactions with the internet and help them to grow into well-balanced adults with healthy views on relationships? The task of parenting your children online is next to impossible without the aid of parental controls of some form or other.
John Mitchell: There has never been a more important time for cyber security. Over the last several decades, more and more people and organizations rely on digital tools and platforms every day. We trust social media to connect us with our friends, the web and mobile platforms for business information and transactions and financial networks for our economic stability. Governments and intelligence operations, as well as commercial activity around marketing and sales, have developed tremendous stores of complex and sensitive information. When these systems are manipulated or compromised, the potential impact on all of us is staggering.
Kyle Cronin: Regardless of your level of experience with technology, cyber security will have an impact on your life. This defines the essential nature of cyber in today’s threat landscape. Cyber security isn’t something that just impacts technology enthusiasts, banks or governments — it impacts all of us.
What are a few of the challenges when it comes to protecting a business or consumer?
JM: One of the main difficulties that both businesses and consumers are facing today is the sheer volume of varying operating systems, platforms, devices and connections that are available to them right now. So, for small to medium sized businesses and for consumers, the challenge is how do they apply security measures to all these platforms, devices and connections easily and in a cost-efficient way? For parents, the problem is often that devices come with their own individual parental control software. You can go online today and get detailed advice about how to enable parental controls on any device. Essentially, the problem here is that these device-control and management services are not integrated across all connected devices. These solutions can often only be deployed on PCs, or on certain mobile devices but not on gaming consoles for instance.
I’m a parent and I just happen to be an IT professional. I got really tired of trying to apply controls to my kids’ devices and their use of the internet. There just wasn’t a solution out there that allowed me to manage all the connected devices easily, so I created one. iKydz was made for parents by parents and we’ve kept it simple for busy families. It’s easy to set up, easy to use and really, really difficult for kids to circumvent.
JM: Computer criminals are often very clever people who work hard and have the support of a very complex and sophisticated infrastructure around them. Rather than picturing a lone hacker in a dark room somewhere, we should all realize that there is a sophisticated underground economy in which sophisticated hackers buy, sell and barter powerful tools and services. If you wanted to break into the computer system of a small company for example, you could look and find various kinds of computer software to help you do that. You wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. You could build on the work of other criminals and potentially sell information you steal into a market designed for that purpose.
KC: Consumers are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to securing their data, as they have little control over how their data is stored and secured. We’ve seen several instances of data breaches that have impacted consumers and left them scratching their heads. Simply put, they had no idea that their data had been stored by these third-party companies, let alone how to protect themselves from such a breach.
Education is another key challenge for consumers. Once a consumer has learned a best-practice method for protecting themselves at home, the threat landscape evolves.
Businesses face the largest hurdles of all, needing to protect not only their own interests, but the safety of their customers’ data. The stakes are even higher when one breach can impact thousands, if not millions, of consumers in the business arena. This is especially challenging since security professionals have to get it right 100 percent of the time; attackers only have to get it right once.