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Security – Growing Threats, and vulnerability

March 27, 2013, was a red letter day in the history of cyber security in the civilized world. We saw for the first time, an actual Cyber war. The ammo used jammed the World Wide Web highway almost to a halt. The open hostilities between ‘spam-fighters’ at SpamHaus and the free thinking Dutch Web-hosting company Cyberbunker gave a new meaning to the word ‘security outage.

It was a DDOS(distributed Denial of Service), attack on unprotected Domain Name System (DNS) servers which were flooded with big amounts of useless information, jamming up bandwidth and processing time bringing down almost half of the infrastructure on the London Internet Exchange, and triggering similar shutdowns in many banks worldwide. The losses were not disclosed, but the fact that the Internet is so vulnerable, is scary. Then there are persistent targeted attacks on institutions as well as individuals. They could come in the form of phishing, or spear phishing, hacking, poisoning of websites, malware injection. These are just a handful of different ways of attacking individual or enterprises.

Over USD 60 billion was spent in 2012 to fight security threats, according to Gartner. The spending is slated to grow to USD 86 billion to 2016, and the global security software sales that grew to $20.4 billion in 2012, is expected to grow 7.9% to $24 billion in 2014.

Open security threats to vulnerable systems across industries are stuff IT nightmares are made of. Airline outages involving millions of passengers and hours of flight time, easier to bust ATMs or ability to siphon money by exploiting IT vulnerabilities, to bring down utility infrastructure or hacking into the extensive network of oil and gas pipelines (the Iranian Stuxnet attack), even the tweet war declared on the Whitehouse that effected the stock market globally – the list is endless, it is cyber terrorism.

Today, the digital world has come to a stage where there is no telling where the next attack will come from. Hacking and breach strategies are changing every day, enterprises need to have a constant surveillance on whether they are falling in the high risk category, specially where there is money, data or market standing involved. Banks, financial institutions and other institutions that deal with finances, are the most effected, as are organisations dealing with direct consumer data.

Threats come in many guises – networking, the human connectivity with machine and the worldwide web. Then there is the threat brought in by emerging technologies such as Cloud and enterprise mobility and the most controversial one – about employee freedom to use varied devices for company uses – the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) arguments.

As we get more connected, more tech dependent for our business needs, as data becomes more and more valuable, so will our security risks increase, our vulnerabilities rise and our threat detection will need to be more streamlined, much, much more effective than it is now.

Thoughts, what is the best way to fight this increasing scare???

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