Society is reliant on the internet on a day-to-day basis, but this reliance has attracted a threatening, criminal element that seeks to expose vulnerabilities in the internet for monetary gain. As the internet becomes more and more involved in our daily lives, the potential impact of internet security is ever more important.
Rising threats on the internet
Computer security used to evolve around the risks that viruses pose, where infection could lead to remote access to your computer or data loss. However, in recent years, virus scanners have become so good that attackers no longer use this method to get access to systems. Instead, hackers exploit weak passwords and social engineering to get access to your computer.
Social engineering involves a hacker posing as a legitimate actor, fooling you into thinking that a technical support officer or perhaps a friend is attempting to get in touch with you. Businesses are particularly vulnerable to this approach as a wider network of employees are not intimately familiar with each other, allowing hackers to easily impersonate a fellow employee.
The increased interconnectedness of devices is also causing a problem as hackers have an increasing number of opportunities to exploit software. In a world where every device is connected, malicious actors are able to take control of entire networks, such as the power grid of a city.
Ways that internet security can impact you
Financial loss is usually what people think of when they are concerned about internet security, as the reports of hacked bank accounts and stolen credit card numbers feature prominently in the media. These are real risks, which is why you should keep your internet banking passwords and credit card details safe.
Data loss is also very common, with a modern hacking trick being the tendency of hackers to encrypt your data stores and demand a ransom to return your data to you unencrypted. You have no assurances that your data will ever be returned to you, and precious family memories stored in the cloud can quickly be wiped away under this scenario.
Damage to individual and organizational reputation can also be a problem – criminals can hack into an account and replace legitimate content with offensive material that promotes their cause. This can put off potential customers for a long period, and cause damage to family relationships.
Measures you can take to reduce the impact of internet threats
You can mitigate the chances of being a victim of hacking by following a couple of key rules. The most important is to use strong passwords for every service you use, and to also use a different password for each service. The best passwords are completely random – you can use a password vault to help you remember these.
Protecting your devices is also important. Install a capable firewall on your business and home networks, and be careful which software you install on your personal computer and phone. Verify the reputation of websites before you supply your credit card details, and do not respond to any emails if you do not know the sender – in particular, avoid opening any attachments to emails.
Getting employed in internet security
Due to the rising threats in the online realm, internet security experts are in incredibly high demand. As threats are likely to grow, so is the demand for internet security staff. If you are already in an information technology role, you could easily shift to a security-focused job by doing a cyber security master’s degree, for example. A good understanding of internet technologies is essential in performing a security role. A formal program will also teach you advanced measures in threat reduction and prevention.
When looking for a role, talk to employers who are particularly vulnerable, such as financial institutions. You could also opt to work for a consultancy that specializes in internet security, where you can build on the knowledge of colleagues to master the issues at hand.
Vigilance is the key to avoiding internet threats
The cost threshold for hackers to launch an attack in the online realm is very low, and threats often come from foreign countries. For this reason, almost every consumer and business is constantly under threat, and the only way to realistically prevent a successful attack is to install as much protection as possible, and to be very aware of the risks. Reading up on the latest risks will keep you informed, and you should adjust your patterns of behavior as the nature of internet security changes over time.