There are more connected devices, connected people, and connected things than at any time in history and, as the 21st century progresses, this trend is set to continue. For many people, all this innovation is going to make the world a smarter, sharper and more captivating place to be, with new technologies offering us plenty by way of opportunities, says Steve Flynn, director: sales and marketing at ESET South Africa.
At the same time, there lies another world where cybercriminals are equally enabled and empowered by these technologies. Here, all sorts of malicious activities are plotted, tailored techniques developed, targets identified. They may not all share the same values or have a common goal, but they do have something in common: to disrupt the status quo.
Technology, especially the kind that allows us to connect like never before, is increasingly vulnerable to attacks. The threat posed by a mishmash of 21st-century cybercriminals – not all working together, it must be noted – increases by the day. They are more sophisticated, threatening and organised in their efforts than ever before.
What is evident is that cybercriminals have evolved to be more professional, entrepreneurial and organised in their activities. The latter is a particularly telling description, as cybercriminals are either part of, work for, or commission groups of individuals that bear all the hallmarks of real-world organised crime groups.
Technology, management, and education are key factors for security, as is collaborative action. This requires everyone to get involved, from businesses to law enforcement, from governments to industry regulators, and everyone else in-between.
The result is that all stakeholders and participants get to see things from a different perspective, with unique perspectives and experiences delivering original insight.
Further, the more visible and collaborative an approach to cybercrime and cybersecurity the more universal that knowledge becomes. This means that threats can be detected more quickly and equally swift responses to attacks can be delivered. Knowledge is, after all, power.
In recent years, as our personal and professional lives have increasingly been defined and shaped by gadgets and gizmos, we have become accustomed to a more streamlined way of living. That’s the brilliant thing about connected technologies – it helps to make life easier and more fun.
Yet, thanks to 21st-century cybercriminals everything we take for granted – paying for a book online, inputting your name and address on a web page – is at risk. More so, if we don’t invest in security software, develop skills and work together. The threat landscape may have evolved, but together, the security environment can also advance. It just takes a bit of effort.