October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and we should all be paying close attention.

Our world is no longer on the verge of cyber warfare. Each and every day, people are experiencing the ramifications of advanced technology and resource-laden malicious actors. CSO Online posted an acute list of “15 Security Predictions for 2016,” most of which have indeed become realities…some in the last few months.

A few frightening (read: I’m going to go change my passwords now) statistics:

–      Intel reported that 68% of breaches in 2015 required public disclosure due to extreme data losses.

–      And yet oftentimes, we the public do not receive all of said information, such as in these alarming cases:

  • Yahoo’s breach (in 2014) affected 500 million user accounts and yet no one knew about it until September 2016. This is breach likely caused countless cases of financial fraud, unbeknownst to the users, due to the delay in activity (2 years is a long time to be on vigilant alert, monitoring your accounts!)
  • Dropbox was hacked in 2012, and jeopardized 68 million users in the process. However, the company forgot to mention that passwords had been stolen, and only reported an e-mail address leak –  four years later in August 2016.
  • Target was hacked in November 2014, and then stood by as 40 million credit card numbers — and 70 million addresses, phone numbers, and other pieces of personal information — were neatly packaged and sent to eagerly-awaiting hackers.

Our information is out there, and unless you operate in a cash-only, leave-no-trace manner (and if you do, more power to you), your personal information is ready and waiting inside numerous enterprise servers all around the world. Unfortunately, these enterprises are not always as prepared or vigilant as they need to be. So, my friends, we need to do our part.

You know the drill:  change your passwords frequently; don’t use the same password twice; update the answers to those pesky security questions (use fake responses, or at the very least, information you’ve never used on a form before); safeguard your passwords carefully; and diligently monitor all of your password-protected accounts for suspicious or aberrant activities.

Our CTO, Scott Millis, has crafted our own cybersecurity predictions for 2017, based on trends we’re seeing in our customer’s enterprise networks and the industry at-large – check them out here. 

Whether you’re a digital novice, occasionally tapping into public Wi-Fi networks to check work e-mails on the go, or a cyber professional, alarmingly aware of your enterprise network traffic but overwhelmed in terms of where to begin to monitor it – we all need to be hyper-vigilant in the coming year in terms of our personal and professional cyber security.

Let’s face it, hackers are not going to let up anytime soon, so neither should we.

About NCSAM

National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) – observed every October and now in its 13th year –  was created as a collaborative effort between government and industry to ensure every American has the resources they need to stay safer and more secure online. Since its inception under leadership from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance, NCSAM has grown exponentially, reaching consumers, small and medium-sized businesses, corporations, educational institutions and young people across the nation.

Sources

  • Intel Security, Grand Theft Data 2015
  • CSO Online, Top 15 Security Predictions for 2016
  • Bloomberg, Missed Alarms and 40 Million Stolen Credit Card Numbers: How Target Blew It

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