According to IBM, there were over 1.5 million detected cyber attacks on systems, websites, and databases in the United States during 2013 . The private and public IT assets of retailers, social media networks, governments, and other organizations have all become juicy targets for hackers and cybercriminals. The potential impact to an organization’s reputation and revenue from a successful attack or data security breach can be devastating. That’s probably why the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 37% growth rate in the number of data security analyst jobs through 2022.
Here are a few of the most common data security threats out there:
- Legacy System Loopholes: Old operating systems and software that are no longer supported by their manufacturers don’t receive updated security patches. However, many users cling to familiar products long after security support has been withdrawn. For example, one analyst estimates that 20% of computers are still running the unsupported Windows XP system—and so are a great many ATMs. These obsolete systems can be a tempting target for cybercriminals.
- Bring-Your-Own-Device Culture: The more copies made of sensitive data, the less secure it is. As the workforce becomes more mobile, information that should ideally be centralized and tightly controlled winds up on the CEO’s laptop, the VP of Marketing’s mobile, and dozens of other unsecured places. Without systems and solutions in place to encrypt data no matter where it lives, BYOD culture can lead to embarrassing leaks—or enable outright theft.
- DDoS and Botnets: Zombies are real—at least, computer zombies are. For years, hackers have been hijacking vulnerable computer systems to spread malicious code or paralyze sites and systems by swamping them with more visitors than their servers can handle—what’s known as a DDoS attack. DDoS stands for “distributed denial of service”, and is basically the use of many “slaved” computers to swamp a targeted website so that it cannot operate. This very simple-sounding attack has the potential to devastate businesses: in 2013, Info Security Magazine estimated that a DDoS attack could cost up to $1,000,000 before organizations can even begin to try stopping them.
- Cloud Vulnerabilities: Cloud computing has made great things possible: scientific and business collaboration across distances, storage of immense amounts of data across multiple machines, and the ability to back up your music library, to name a few. But it’s also highly vulnerable to attacks or flat-out losses. If a determined hacker—or a tornado or earthquake—takes out your cloud service’s servers, you may lose years of work. Hackers may also find back-doors into your personal machines through the cloud, causing even more havoc.