I Read a Bunch of Cybersecurity Reports So You Wouldn’t Have To

I used to consider myself pretty knowledgable about the cyber-world, but then I started learning about cyber-security and reading reports by companies like Shape Security, IBM and Snyk.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

(Note: I will add references at the end of the article ⭐️)

So, I’m a little bit late for the security train. Nevertheless, each year, cyber-crimes are becoming an increasingly bigger threat to everyone.

Based on this report I made a rough accumulation of some data points:

Some of these incidents are truly scary.

February 2019. European aerospace company Airbus reveals it was targeted by Chinese hackers who stole the personal and IT identification information of some of its European employees.

December 2018. North Korean hackers stole the personal information of almost 1,000 North Korean defectors living in South Korea

June 2017. Russian hackers used an updated ransomware program to target Ukrainian infrastructure, including power companies, airports, and public transit.

All of these are pretty big cyber-crimes. You might think that for smaller companies and simple mortals like me it’s not a problem. Wrong.

“Ignorance is Strength” —1984 by George Orwell

90%. That’s nine zero. I couldn’t believe it at first, but the more I read the report the more this number made sense. The main reason retailers are attacked in such amounts is because of us — customers.

In the era of Amazon and 1 day deliveries, we are getting increasingly impatient about waiting — be it in a queue or while a website is loading.

Numerous articles have been written on the importance of reducing friction for customers such as improving website load times.

Thus, while we strive to make the web faster and more user friendly we are also inevitably making it more criminal friendly. Such studies make a website focus on the immediate problem — getting users to their website as fast as possible and making the number of steps necessary to make an action as little as possible.

Therefore, most websites are unwilling to introduce additional security measures that increase friction for a user. However, by omitting things like 2 factor authentication (2FA), not enforcing strong passwords, allowing to use passwords that have already been reported as compromised (this point was also mentioned in the 2017 study by NIST), etc., businesses compromise the trust of billions of people. The latter

[In 2017] over 2.3 billion credentials from 51 different organizations were reported compromised

This is called a Personally Identifiable Information or PII.

With PII a hacker could then, for example, completely takeover your phone company’s account. Watch this video on how easily Vishing (phishing via phone) can be performed:

What should we do?

There are many things to consider and it might feel overwhelming. I get it. However, to quote the Shape Security report, it’s a “collective defense” that is required for the good guys to stand up against the bad guys. We can’t be passive. Not anymore considering that cyber-crimes affect all countries.

Politics are shaped, elections tampered with, military blueprints and classified information leaked, your family’s photos used, people fleeing dictatorships discovered, your car hacked.

For Software Developers

For Everyday Users

  • Consider using a password manager like LastPass or 1Password
  • If possible, don’t store more personal information than necessary on any website
  • Don’t save card data on websites
  • Use 2FA wherever possible
  • If your password doesn’t look like gibberish — [email protected]^K%fsGA85V*uP change it!
  • Don’t use public WiFi for handling any sensitive dataIf you do use a public WiFi, use a VPN service.
  • Educate yourself about the cyber-crimes of today like Phishing, Vishing, Smishing (probably my favourite name) and others.

For Everybody

Please follow your company’s security policies to not become an accidental attacker. I know it’s frustrating and sometimes feels redundant. However, in a 2015 Cyber Security Intelligence Report IBM study shows that 55% of attackers are insiders. From those 23.5% are people with no intention to harm the company e.g. they lose their company laptop.

If you liked this article and would like to hear more in detail about this topic or get more tips, feel free to share that in the comments.

Also, I suggest that you check if a website, your email or password have been compromised via the links below.


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