To humanity’s dismay, one’s noble intentions when innovating technology is a moot point. Once that creation is out there, made available to everyone, its application is open to interpretation. Someone somewhere will always find nefarious uses for the technology. And those are cyber criminals.
The Dangers of Cyber Criminals
The same technology that allowed companies to thrive could be their downfall if it’s used against them.
Easy Access to Data and Information
In today’s world, our increased reliance on high-speed access to ubiquitous and large data sets exacerbates the likelihood of a breach. Organizations collect customer data—from financial transactions to social-media views—to effectively understand and influence purchasing behavior and forecast demand. As a result, businesses are not only gathering more data, centralizing them, and storing them on the cloud but also granting access to many individuals, including third parties (i.e., suppliers).
Some of the recent high-profile attacks took advantage of this increased data access. In 2020, for example, during routine software updates, malicious code was disseminated to users in the Sunburst hack. Similarly, attackers in early 2020 gained access to more than five million guest records using compromised employee credentials from a third-party application used by a prestigious hotel chain.
Technology as a Double-Edged Sword
The technology we use for the greater good has been utilized for the demise of many since the beginning of the internet. Today, cybercrime is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is seemingly unstoppable. The attackers weaponize the same tools that, in other methods, have saved lives repeatedly.
For instance, Emotet, a sophisticated form of malware that targets banks, has the ability to alter the nature of its attacks. In 2020, it used an automated process to send out contextualized phishing emails that hijacked other email threats, some of which were connected to COVID-19 communications, in order to increase its effectiveness. Other kinds of disruptions frequently bring on a rise in these attacks. For instance, the number of ransomware attacks worldwide increased by 148 percent during the initial wave of COVID-19, which occurred between February 2020 and March 2020.
The Worst Is Yet to Come
Many organizations still take cybersecurity talent, knowledge, and expertise for granted. Just because you are a small business in the middle of nowhere does not mean you are immune to cyberattacks. Oftentimes, you are the ideal target. If you think about it, why waste time and energy hacking a medium-large enterprise when you can clean a small business for all its worth?
On the other hand, our technological advancements open the floodgates for innovation abuse. Take quantum computing as an example of innovation capable of changing the world as we know it. That machine can solve problems quicker than anything else available on the market right now, and it’s still in its infancy! Can you imagine what would happen if the tech got released without readying the existing system against quantum cyber-attacks? Madness and chaos!
There are certain things in life that we cannot anticipate, but the abuse of our technology is not one of them. And assuming that innovating with noble intentions is enough for it to be dedicated to said noble causes is extremely out of touch. If we allow invention without caution, are we inadvertently creating super cyber criminals?
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