Cyber espionage and hacking to become the norm in 2015: McAfee

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The recent hacking of Sony Entertainment Pictures is being called the worst corporate cyber attack in history but don’t think for a minute this is just a one off.

According to a report published by McAfee Labs, cyber attacks, hacking and online espionage will become commonplace within the next year, as “small nation states and terrorist groups” use hacking as an inexpensive but highly effective tool in order to gather intelligence and important data.

Highly effective cyber espionage

The report goes onto say that terror groups will launch frequent Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and harmful malware attacks which will be used to cripple their adversaries and wreak havoc with computer networks and software.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, key players in the world of cyber espionage will also develop better and more effective ways of remaining under the radar and out of sight in order to launch more sophisticated and damaging attacks on the computer systems of their targets.

Another point of interest is that McAfee also claims that there has been a shift in the type of cyber attacks being carried today. Previously for example, it would be common for hackers to target the customer data held by financial institutions in order to commit financial theft.

However, more recently Eastern European cybercriminals have been using highly sophisticated techniques to collect large volumes of intelligence of data which they can then sell at a later date, says McAfee.

This is similar to what occurred during the cyber attack on Sony where, amongst other things, the social security numbers of its 47,000 employees were stolen, as well as passwords to internal networks and social media accounts.

Many devices vulnerable to hacking

McAfee warns mobile devices vulnerable to attack

McAfee also expressed concern at the potential vulnerability of the ‘Internet of Things’, which refers to the growing number of devices connected using the internet infrastructure, such as computers that are linked together online and used in the manufacturing, farming and health sectors.

The problem with the Internet of Things is now that we have such a large amount of devices connected to a network, from all manner of electronic appliances and home security systems to light bulbs and even cars, that many of these devices do not have any kind of online security making them incredibly vulnerable to attack.

Hacking of mobile devices to rise

A particular concern, according to the report is the healthcare industry, where hackers can obtain patient medical and health data, which is apparently up to 20 times more valuable to cybercriminals than credit card data.

McAfee said it expects a major attack on Internet of Things devices in 2015 as a direct result of the vulnerability of these kinds of devices.

The report also predicted an increase in what are known as ransomware attacks, mainly from mobile devices, with cyber criminals easily able to evade security on mobile devices to access apps in order to gain access to cloud based services.

The report from McAfee Labs and the recent hacking of Sony acts as a stark reminder of just how real the threat of a cyber attack is for everyone, even the largest corporations.

You can’t help but thinking if anything online is truly safe and secure in this day and age.

 

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