The internet and connected digital technologies have brought the world closer than ever and opened up all kinds of new opportunities for communication and business. Unfortunately, digital technology has also provided new opportunities for criminals to steal from and even terrorize individuals, businesses and governments.
Cybercrime is an ever-evolving threat that needs to be taken seriously. In 2020, nearly five million cybercrime complaints were reported to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and identity theft is among the top examples of cybercrime cited in FTC statistics.
As technology has advanced over the years, criminals have focused on the wide availability of internet-connected technologies to search for victims. More and more data is centralized on servers and networks, which means that criminals who can access these stores of information may be able to compromise millions of individuals in mere seconds.
Facing cyberterrorism and hacker groups
While many hacks and cybercrimes are committed by individuals, hacker collectives are also a problem. Hacking groups can operate all over the world, and because their crimes are committed online, it can be difficult to track down everyone involved. Many hacker groups use sophisticated technologies and proxies to mask the identity of participants and hide the location of members of a collective.
Overall, most hacker groups commit identity theft and ransomware attacks for profit. Others do it to support a political or social cause. In fact, some of the most famous hacks have involved social issues at the heart of the actions taken.
Famous hacks in recent history
In 2021, loosely affiliated online group Anonymous claimed responsibility for hacking Epik, a web host that hosted the Texas Right to Life website. The Texas Right to Life website allowed individuals to report suspected violations of the Texas Heartbeat Act. The hack revealed personal information about people associated with Epik as well as credit card numbers and other financial data associated with customers.
In fact, the so-called “hacktivism” dates back to the 1990s. At that time, the Internet was still in development, but it had reached mass audiences around the world. The Chinese government tried to block citizens’ access to certain websites, but a group of hackers known as the Hong Kong Blondes were able to attack Chinese networks and infiltrate them to access the censored content. There has, however, been speculation over the years as to whether this group actually existed or if the collective was a fictional entity created to serve as a diversion to placate direct action groups.
What can be done to stop cyberterrorism?
Stopping cyberterrorism requires a multi-pronged approach flexible enough to adapt quickly to changes. While one type of hack may be important and dangerous today, another type of hack is likely being developed or perfected right now. This means that cybersecurity experts must constantly monitor developing threats and plan for potential threats as situations evolve.
Educating the public on cybersecurity measures is also essential in the fight against online crime. Taking simple steps like using anti-virus software and updating your operating system and web browser can play a major role in preventing cybercriminals from accessing important data.
The future of cybersecurity
Currently, companies are taking steps to educate their employees about online safety in the workplace, but educational institutions are also seeing massive growth in cybersecurity programs. The cost of cybercrime is simply too high for most business owners to ignore, and the threat of lawsuits that can result from the loss of customer data to cybercriminals only compounds this problem.
As a result, many schools are now offering cybersecurity courses to train the next generation of online sleuths. Even at the secondary level, students learn the basics of computing and information technology to prepare for the changes of the digital age. The implications of cyberterrorism being a global issue affecting governments has also led the US military to actively recruit talented individuals to thwart cybercrime that could affect national security.
Sources of articles: