A generation ago people used to leave their front doors unlocked. It was normal and nobody thought twice about it. Then the world changed. Small communities got bigger, people no longer knew everyone and crime became something people protected themselves from with locked doors, insurance and burglar alarms.
The internet changed everything
The world changed when the internet arrived but it's only in the last few years that cyber crime has become something that affects us all. Whether it’s the hack on Talk Talk or the hacks on LinkedIn which affected millions of people, cyber attacks happen much closer to home.
Before broadband, to be a hacker required commitment and patience. Trying to compromise a computer on the other side of the world using a 56Kb dial-up connection was laborious and impossible most of the time.
The growth in online users and therefore targets has been exponential. However our awareness of cyber security and what's safe has not grown at the same rate. It’s this gap in our understanding which the hackers exploit.
Security companies talk about Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). While these are valid, capable and scary, they're the equivalent of serious organised crime and terrorism. By contrast the vast majority of threats that affect normal businesses and people tend to be phishing emails, malicious software and hacking enthusiasts. These are the equivalent of pick pockets, shoplifting and other petty crimes. We all know that we can take precautions to reduce the risk of petty crime.
It won’t happen to me
For businesses it's interesting that the second largest cause of data breaches (24%) is employees. Easily preventable but they still happen. Human beings are susceptible to complacency and think 'it won't happen to me'. It’s this complacency which makes it more risky than other threats.
This is why it's Cyber Security Month in Parliament. It's a series of talks, seminars, workshops and drop in sessions to raise awareness about the things we can all do to improve our cyber security. There are simple and often free things, such as password managers, virus protection, good strong passwords and two step authentication. Only when we all decide to put locks on our cyber front doors will we reduce the risk of online hacks.
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