With so much of our daily lives conducted online these days, it’s astounding that the issue of cyber security is not more discussed. Only occasionally does the issue come up in national consciousness, usually during a celebrity photo leak or a breach of political security.
However, common cyber crime is much more prevalent than these occasional headlines suggest. Every day, cyber criminals victimize people who shop, bank and send or receive money online.
And the sad truth is that few of these criminals can be described as experts or masterminds. The lack of awareness about cyber security makes most people an easy target for anyone trying to hack into their personal data.
High-Tech Crime Requires Sophisticated Professionals
In the United States in 2013, 3,000 companies reported instances of security breach by cyber attack. This statistic didn’t just include small businesses running on homemade websites, but giant retailers such as Target and Home Depot were also among the companies victimized. Customer data and credit card information was stolen, money was lifted from paycheck accounts, trade secrets and other intellectual property were copied and leaked, and in some cases, the criminals hacked into internal systems and held them for ransom.
It is estimated that cyber crime costs the global economy over $400 billion per year. As a result, companies and organizations all over the world, including the U.S. Government, are making cyber security a top priority for the coming year and are setting up standards for cyber security protocol. Last year, President Obama asked the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to draw up a set of best practices for cyber security. Created with the input of thousands of security experts, the plan is designed to help organizations manage the risks of a cyber security breach.
Needless to say, the ever-increasing innovation of technology is bringing a greater demand for professionals with sophisticated skills and a masters’ degree in cyber security. According to Bertrand Liard, a Paris-based partner at international law firm White & Case, “Responding to cyber attacks requires both a global vision and a fine knowledge.”
Cyber Security Affects Everyone
Just as defensive driving improves the safety of other motorists on the road, or staying home when you’re sick prevents spreading the flu around your office, maintaining proper cyber security measures on your own devices affects the rest of the online community. As Forbes magazine reports,
Infected devices have a way of infecting other devices and compromised systems can make everyone vulnerable.
One of the most important groups to teach about cyber security is our youth. While they may not be banking or using credit cards to shop online, they can make it very easy for cyber criminals to access data through creating insecure personal accounts.
Weak passwords and bad practices in email or social media make it much easier for others to hack into your account and gain access to your friends’ and family’s data. Whether it’s a bank account number, a photo best kept private, or complete identity theft, no one wants to be responsible for cyber crime on their loved ones.