2015 was another great year for hackers, but not for their victims.
Cybercrime has been steadily rising for years, with high-profile hacks making the headlines every few months, and plenty more not large enough to make the news. The hacks 2015 saw had something to worry just about everyone, especially with millions of dollars and millions of customer records at stake every time this happens.
So who were the biggest victims last year? Let's take a quick look.
1 - Sony
Sony is no stranger to high-profile attacks on their company, having previously suffered a major incident involving their PlayStation Network in 2011 which compromised millions of customer records and resulted in an embarrassing weeks-long PSN outage.
Their latest incident was basically a company's worst nightmare: Culprits got access to everything. Sony's entire network was shut down, including communications. Worse, the criminals got hold of several upcoming Sony Pictures film releases, and held them ransom. Sony didn't pay, and the films went straight to The Pirate Bay.
Have they learned their lesson yet? It's hard to say.
Sony's 2015 hack was embarrassing for them. The Ashley Madison hack embarrassed and potentially harmed people around the world.
Ashley Madison is a hookup site which advertises specifically to married people looking to cheat, making it an irresistible honeypot. Hackers got into their system and dumped virtually all the information. Over 60GB of data was released into the wild, with thousands of people -at least- being publicly "outed" based on their contact information.
This was another blackmail scheme. It's worrying that this seems to be a growing trend.
For sheer scope of the breach, the Blue Cross/Blue Shield provider Anthem "wins" for 2015 cyber-attacks.
An estimated 78 million personal records were seized from customers in at least 14 states. Many of these included full identifying information such as Social Security Numbers, as well as full medical histories in some cases. Anthem has had to provide free identity protection services to everyone involved, and there's no way of telling just how much financial damage was done.
There's no reason to think 2016 is going to be any better when it comes to cybercrime. The tools for perpetrating it are proliferating quickly, and geography is no barrier at all.
What are some steps you can take to help protect yourself?
- Have an up-to-date firewall. Older models are inherently vulnerable.
- Investigate upgraded firewall\network licenses, depending on your vendor, which may include more robust protection.
- Consistently keep your OS, network systems, and anti-malware software current.
- Hold more internal training on proper security techniques. Most of the major attacks in 2015 were believed to be due in part to human error, such as passwords written in plaintext emails.
- Monitor your server and\or VoIP records carefully, looking for unusual IP addresses or domain names.
- Keep an eye on advances in machine-learning systems which may one day be able to predict hacks.
Meraki Does Security Right
If it's been a few years since your last hardware upgrade, the possibility of being a hack-attack victim is a very good reason for re-investment. For the easiest in secure access, we recommend Meraki Firewalls. Their distributed mesh-based system spreads security evenly across every device, ensuring there are no weak points.
Also, Meraki is the only vendor to offer 100% automated OS and malware system updates. Their cloud system automatically downloads and installs updates the moment they appear, guaranteeing the best possible security coverage around-the-clock.
Or for more information on security options, just contact Hummingbird Networks with your questions.