Surviving the security storm Featured

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It seems like South Africa is currently a magnet for cyberattacks. In the last two weeks, two high profile breaches have been reported, with one leaving about 50 million people’s details – including ID numbers, income and employment history – online.

Surviving the security stormThere’s only one thing we can say with any certainty about cyber security, and that is that cyber criminals are always one step ahead of security vendors. They are innovating more quickly than businesses are able to defend themselves, continually looking for new ways to exploit weaknesses in cyber security solutions.

This situation is only going to get worse as more things are connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is rapidly expanding to include a previously undreamed of amount of connected devices - cars, toys, medical devices, home appliances - and all these smart things connecting to the Web have to be secured. Unfortunately, security seems to be bottom on the list of priorities for IoT manufacturers and developers.

If anything, the slew of breaches that have littered the news has shown that current security measures are simply not enough. We know we are not resilient, particularly in light of the IoT, which is why securing IoT devices has to begin from the ground up, at the very beginning of the development process, and not added on as an afterthought.

Companies need to realise that if threat actors innovating, so should they, and they should develop a cyber security strategy that is innovative and forward thinking. And this needs to happen now. The volume of data that needs to be harnessed and protected will double in a few years, and any business that can’t protect its data is likely to be the next headline breach.

These days, breaches are not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. And it’s not just companies that are at risk.

We’re living in a connected world. We bank online, we stay in touch with family and friends via social media, and we are even connecting our homes these days. Some people are more security aware than others, but even if you have strong passwords and anti-virus software, hackers can get to your banking information. Add to that the fact that we are making our homes smarter, and we are setting up the perfect storm.

Smart homes promise all sorts of benefits, from energy efficiency and control, to entertainment and even improved home security. Through IoT, devices in the home, such as appliances, sensors and cameras can talk to the Internet and to each other, and be controlled through a single system for maximum convenience.

However, the more connected a home is, the more vulnerable it is to cyber attacks, as the potential attack surface now covers a multitude of devices and appliances. Never mind the router that connects a home PC to the Internet – and is probably used for banking – smart home radio signals could be intercepted and replayed to open a property’s doors and commit a burglary. A home’s thermostats could be hacked, causing a significant increase or decrease in temperature, and sprinkler systems could also be accessed in a malicious way, causing flooding and physical damage.

While it seems that protecting ourselves is becoming close to impossible, there are some insurance companies that now offer cyber insurance. Cyber insurance covers any losses incurred due to theft from financial accounts, as well as cover for re-creating or replacing data and files, and any ransom that needs to paid to hackers in the event of a ransomware infection.

So, if you have had your bank account cleaned out, the insurance will reimburse you, providing a silver lining in the security storm that is brewing.

Image credit: Copyright: glebstock / 123RF Stock Photo


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