Rarely a week goes by without a hacking story making international headlines - what does the growing and evolving cyber threat mean?Posted on 04 February 2015 - net
Hacking has never been bigger news. It was once seen as the preserve of geeky schoolboys out to achieve the cyber equivalent of a piece of graffiti or geeky cyber-criminals out to make a lot of money.
That's starting to change now. Whether through the ubiquity of access to educational tools (in the form of things like video tutorials) to teach yourself how to hack, social change that has made hacking and other geeky activities a lot more appealing, or a combination of those and other factors, these days rarely a week goes by without a hacking story making international headlines.
Perhaps last month's story of hacking group Lizard Squad themselves being hacked is the best example of the fast-paced and increasingly murky world of hacking.
There was widespread condemnation of their attack on Sony over Christmas because it affected gamers (many of whom are also active in the digital community, which includes hackers) and stopped entirely innocent families enjoying their new present to its full.
But there is far less widespread criticism when political targets are hacked. For instance, the hacktivist attack on the Ku Klux Klan by Anonymous was not condemned. Many 'digerati' - and many more than would public admit so - have sympathy for hack attacks, especially those against causes and organisations that they deem to be fair game.
The problem with that is that not everyone's politics or values are the same and hacking is a world in which the hunters can very quickly become the hunted. It seems increasingly like the cyber threat is growing daily.
Indeed, the planned cyber war games between the UK and US governments and firms on Wall Street and in the City of London show that hacking has got very serious.
The war comparison is a neat one. Right now, it feels like the rules of engagement are changing rapidly in the world of hacking. Hack attacks are becoming more prevalent, an increasingly wider base of targets seem to be susceptible to an attack and nobody is quite sure just how responsive or proactive governments and corporations should be - or currently are - in this new cyber war.
The good news is that evil genius hackers are still relatively thin on the ground in the grand scheme of things. The vast majority of hack attacks happen by taking advantage of a very obvious vulnerability caused by user error on behalf of the victim.
That covers everything from having a password that is very easy to guess, to having your server configured incorrectly.
The best way to avoid being hacked is to follow best practice when it comes to data security principles. Feel free to ask us if you've got any doubts or queries.