Thursday, 29 October 2015

Ongoing Company Hacks Have People Worried and Asking 'Why?'

The latest DDoS attack launched against Talk Talk made all of the media rounds over the weekend. At first, the attack was advertised as being far more serious than it really was, leaving millions of Talk Talk customers wondering whether or not their identities would be stolen and their finances ruined. But this latest attack really is not news within the cyber security community. Thousands of attempted attacks happen every single day all across the globe. And, with every new attack, consumers are left worrying and asking why it continues to happen.

Unfortunately, the answer to the question is very uncomfortable. It comes down to two things: cyber-attacks are profitable and we do not have the will to truly stop the problem. What’s more, until things change, no amount of sophisticated hardware and software will prevent cyber criminals from attempting to do what they do.

The Laws of Nature Make It Easy

It is a well-understood law of nature that the more complex a system is, the easier it is to break that system. This is certainly true in the area of computer networks and cyber security. As technology has raced to make data communications faster and more reliable, we have introduced complex hardware and software systems that require a tremendous amount of effort just to maintain, let alone protect. We have, by our own doing, introduced systems that are so complex that it is almost impossible to recognise every potential security flaw before releasing a new product to the market.

The result of doing things this way is that we design and build network systems with a plethora of security weaknesses that go unidentified until hackers breach the data centre. Furthermore, every closed security breach opens the door to a new one within a very short amount of time. It is a no-win situation if we rely solely on software and hardware to protect the world's data communications from cybercrime.

Human Nature Makes It Possible

More uncomfortable is the universal reality of human nature. No matter how hard we try, there will always be those members of society who either delight in taking down networks with denial of service attacks or live to steal from other people by illegally acquiring their private information. No amount of software or hardware will change human nature. The only thing that will is swift and sure justice.

Successfully battling cybercrime on a global front will require the nations of the world to get together in an effort of information sharing, investigation, arrest and prosecution. And there must be no mercy. Unless the punishment for cybercrime is demonstrably more severe than the perceived benefits of such crime are attractive, law enforcement efforts will be in vain.

Cybercrime and attacks like the one experienced by Talk Talk over the weekend will continue in perpetuity therefore our best defence is to go on the offence in both developing new strategies and punishing wrongdoers.


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