Cyber security is hardly a new concept. After all, Symantec Corp. (SYMC) has been selling its flagship Norton antivirus software for over two decades now.
But more recently, cyber security has become a huge concern for major corporations, as well as the Department of Defense.
In fact, former FBI Director Robert Mueller said, “In the not-too-distant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose the greatest threat to our country.”
What’s more, a Defense News poll revealed that defense industry leaders believe cyber security is already the top threat to national security.
But here’s the thing: Even though everyone is aware of the massive cyber security threat, most corporations have failed to adequately protect themselves from cyber criminals.
Some of the world’s largest corporations – including ones that house vital personal data – have fallen victim to cyber crime, including Target (TGT) and Neiman Marcus… and this week, Sony Corporation (SNE) joined that ignominious list.
The Power of Twitter
While the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against Sony doesn’t appear to have been specifically malicious, it was used to send an important message.
On Sunday, a group of hackers called Lizard Squad brought down Sony’s PlayStation Network, as well as Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft servers. The group also threatened to attack Microsoft’s Xbox Live network, but it doesn’t appear that it followed through.
PCWorld reports that the attack targeted upstream traffic routes and overwhelmed Sony’s system with traffic, preventing players from logging in… but it didn’t directly access the network or gather personal information from player accounts.
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Instead, Lizard Squad used the attack to highlight the lack of cyber security at Sony. One tweet from the group said, “Sony, yet another large company, but they aren’t spending the waves of cash they obtain on their customers’ (PlayStation Network) service. End the greed.”
As if that message alone wasn’t enough, the group also used its social media savvy to target Sony Online Entertainment President, John Smedley.
Lizard Squad tweeted to American Airlines (AAL) about a potential bomb threat on Smedley’s plane, which forced the plane to make an emergency landing at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
No explosives were found, and the FBI is still investigating the incident… but the Squad made its point clear: Mildly sophisticated hacking and an average understanding of social media can have outsized impacts on some of the world’s biggest corporations.
We’re All Vulnerable
As we become more reliant on the internet, mobile devices, and the cloud, the need for better cyber security grows exponentially. Unfortunately, the hackers and cyber criminals have everyone on the defensive at this point.
For instance, a report from the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering found that Android, Windows, and iOS mobile operating systems are more vulnerable than previously thought.
Researchers successfully hacked popular apps like Gmail, CHASE Bank, and H&R Block (HRB) with an 82% to 92% success rate, a disturbing conclusion that highlights just how vulnerable our personal information truly is.
So even though the digital age has brought with it life-changing benefits, it becomes clearer each day that cyber crime – and cyber terrorism – is a huge threat to people, corporations, and even the government.
Our future, therefore, depends on finding a robust solution to our infrastructure’s rampant security vulnerabilities.
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