Hacking America: Cybercrime or Cyberwar?
What Does This Mean to Me?
Based on conclusions made on the data provided from known cyber attacks, a few things are made apparent.
It is clear that cyberattacks are occurring in both the government and private sectors. No one is safe. As long as you have a computer connected to the Internet, you are vulnerable to a cyberattack. A second observation, as the examples of both government and private attacks have revealed, is that cyberattacks can be both wide-spread and quite damaging. Another natural conclusion from reading the articles would be that the future will only bring new types of threats with varying levels of consequence.
But what does this mean?
Knowledge is king. Most successful attacks occur not because of their ability to go undetected, as most anti-virus programs work well at alerting the user of potential threats, but because of bad decision making on the user's part. Be cautious. Awareness is the key.
It is important to understand that although security threats are a real possibility and will continually evolve, defenses against these threats are always evolving too. If you think of it as becoming an informed consumer, always looking for the most information you can get to make decisions, you will be well equipped to keep your computer safe. Also, getting into the habit of learning about the latest security threats, how to recognize them and what defenses are available to combat them will serve you well in the future.
What Can We Do?
As previously mentioned, most attacks on PCs are a result of the user's own carelessness. I don't mean that in a malicious way, but individuals need to be very vigilant when it comes to maintaining adequate malware protection. This is easily accomplished by allowing your anti-virus/malware software to perform automatic updates. This way, one doesn't have to be bothered with remembering to perform regular software updates.
Also, being aware of what websites you surf is very important. Stick with websites you know are legitimate, but if it is not obvious, any good malware detection program, if set up correctly, will warn you of a website's questionable legitimacy.
In addition, never download any software if you are unsure of its origin, content and legitimacy.
If you maintain an attitude of skepticism when surfing the Internet and downloading any software, most problems should be avoided.
When in doubt...don't click it!
Scareware Screenshot; Google Images, Licenced for Commercial Reuse
GovSec/FOSE Conference Washington, D.C. March 23, 2010
Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, from PC Magazine: Millions of Sites Hit with Mass-Injection Cyberattack, April 1, 2011