With so much personal information stored online, internet security has become as important as physical security, if not more so. There are numerous ways in which thieves can break into computer systems and steal sensitive data, giving them access to financial accounts or personal secrets that can be used to damage reputation and extort money.
As most people know, unauthorised access to a computer network is called hacking. This term dates back to the 1950s and ’60s, long before the internet was even invented. Engineers at MIT in the US experimented with so-called ‘hacks’, ways of controlling all sorts of technical systems from model trains to early computers. It was a game for researchers to match their wits against technology, but the stakes quickly began to grow.
Today, hacking is mostly used in reference to computer access, but not all hacking is bad. In fact, in technical parlance hacking used to refer specifically to people who had good intentions, while ‘cracking’ applied to those who used their skills for nefarious purposes. However, most people don’t make this distinction today and hacking has come to mean any computer entry that bypasses regular security protocols via malware or unauthorised remote access.
Don’t Underestimate a Good Hacker
Many companies hire hackers whose job it is to uncover vulnerabilities by breaking into the system. These people have the same skillset as criminal hackers, but they use their knowledge to improve security and track down malware. In the recent wide-spread attack from the ransomware WannaCry, it was a 22 year-old security researcher who became the ‘accidental hero’ of the situation when he discovered a kill switch in the process of tracking the malware.
It takes a unique combination of technical skill and personality to take on a computer. Hackers need a background in mathematics, especially computer code and algorithms, and they need to be capable of handling large amounts of data at once. They also need memorisation and problem-solving skills in order to put together all the information needed to plan a full-scale attack. Beyond this, hacking takes patience. Computer systems aren’t broken overnight or even the first time a plan is put in action.
Online privacy maintenance requires the same level of technical know-how and experience so that researchers are able to match wits with criminals and even outsmart them when necessary. Our privacy services at Reputation Defender offer clients the opportunity to work with experts who test existing online security measures and track down vulnerabilities that could result in damaging leaks.
Security Weaknesses are Costly
Criminal hacking causes numerous problems for companies and individuals. Businesses lose revenue as soon as their systems go down and the subsequent reputation damage means many established customers will go elsewhere. Individuals may find their personal information published online, or they may end up paying a costly ransom to regain control of the data, without knowing whether or not the criminals will honour their word. It’s much better — and less expensive in the long run — to work with a security professional that has the skills to prevent this kind of attack.
For more information, contact our experts at Reputation Defender.