Guard your digital ID or you could get fired or worse

18 May, 2017
Mark Harris, marketing director at XON

Safeguarding our digital identities will become a crucial task in our near futures as the digital and cyber worlds increasingly merge.

Passwords and two-factor security rule the online world for most of us but in the near future biometrics will play a leading role, says Walter Lee, evangelist for Global Safety Solutions at NEC, and if someone steals that identity they could clean out our bank accounts, implicate us in crimes or use our role in the workplace.

Mark Harris, marketing director at XON, says: “I read a story on As the FBI hunted one of Russia’s most notorious hackers they discovered that the hacker had penetrated computers at several companies, been able to make it appear that subsequent logins to banking sites were legitimately from those computers, and had cleared out company bank accounts. Because it appeared legitimate the companies had fired those employees. It only transpired years later that they were innocent by which stage the damage was done.”

Bigger businesses are more attractive to cyber criminals according to a study by the Economist Intelligence Unit on behalf of NEC. In fact 43,5% of large businesses (more than $500 million annual revenues) said they were the targets of serious cyber attacks in the past five years while the same was true for 30% of smaller firms.

The best targets for cyber criminals these days, according to Lee, are:

  • Information and communications
  • Financial
  • Healthcare
  • Sanitation
  • Utilities
  • Transport

The recent WannaCry ransomware even hit a major healthcare organisation in the UK, locking down computers for a $300 ransom if paid within the week, double that if not.

The problem for the security of most organisations is the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), says Lee. The IoT gives rise to what he calls the Internet of Threats for a number of reasons, including the sheer number of devices that have to be managed as well as the fact that many were never originally designed to be securely connected to the Internet.

As many as 80% of organisations agree that over the next three years, the proliferation of connected devices, the Internet of Things and Big Data will make them more vulnerable to a serious cyber-attack.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s report finds: “While the IT systems of critical infrastructure providers face the same level of risk from cyber-attacks as other enterprises in the private and public sectors, a cyber-attack on critical infrastructure can have much broader and deeper consequences for society and the economy. This puts added pressure on IT decision makers and influences how they design, implement and maintain their cyber-defences.”

“One of the major issues the world faces is the rising tide of nation-state hacks,” says Harris, “because those people are not just interested in money. Their motivations are political, national, sovereign, and they consequently go after different prizes which could be calamitous to societies. Stealing someone’s identity, or the identities of several people influential in running of utility networks, could be the precursor to such an event.”

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