EXTORTION. HUMILIATION. CYBER WARFARE.December 18, 2014
Hollywood has used these cinematic themes repeatedly to draw viewers and critics alike. Ironically, Hollywood is now the subject of such real-life drama.
On November 24th, cyber hackers invaded Sony Picture’s computer network accessing confidential celebrity secrets including celebrity aliases and their social security numbers. The hackers also threatened to leak unreleased Sony Pictures’ movies. Allegedly this attack was politically motivated in an effort to prevent the release of Sony’s new movie “The Interview”, a comedy about a plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.
While your organization may not be as high profile as Sony Pictures and you may not have A-list celebrities working for you, every organization has its trade secrets and confidential information that it would rather not have freely available for the world to see.
This story, and the stories of many data breaches before it, illustrates that a hacker’s motivation can vary wildly from political to financial to personal. This cyber-attack, as most, was unexpected and the victim was unprepared to deal with the implications.
Good Cyber Hygiene
Protecting your data from infection in this cyber age may seem daunting at times, yet there are some good cyber habits that an organization’s employees can adopt to help reduce your risk including:
- Turn off email preview panes – Preview panes automatically open emails for the reader to view them. The act of simply opening unwanted SPAM can trigger the installation of malware and viruses. If you don’t know who an email is coming from, don’t open the email, move it to your junk folder and certainly don’t open its attachments or click on its hyper-links.
- Tougher Reset Phrases – You’ve probably heard it before – don’t write down your password. Most hackers aren’t looking under your keyboard for that post-it with your password on it. Instead they’re looking on social media where you publish your mom’s maiden name, your favorite pet’s name and other common password reset phrases and themes. They then use a website’s password reset functionality to gain access to your account. Making a password memorable isn’t always easy, but try not to sacrifice security for easy recall. Select uncommon password reset reminders, and use complex passwords with numbers, characters and special characters to reduce the likelihood that a hacker program will guess it.
- Disable Wi-fi and Bluetooth when not needed – Hackers can use these protocols to access your phone. They can connect to your device to steal data or spy on you, or even learn what business networks you connect to and use that to hack those systems.
- Reduce/eliminate use of portable media – Tapes, portable hard drives and thumb drives are convenient data storage tools. They are also easily lost, stolen and, once in the wrong hands, can be easily breached. Data on a computer network secured with firewalls, authentication and authorization controls is much more secure than data that floats around in laptop cases and pockets.
Data security and privacy require good habits on the part of all employees, their clients and their vendors. Many people are becoming numb to the frequent press about these types of events. Yet, data breaches like the Sony hack can serve as calls to action for organizations and their employees to remain vigilant.
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