Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cyberwarfare, ID Theft, and Social Engineering: What's It All Mean?

Read an interesting article at CIO the other day: “Talk of Cyberwarfare Meaningless to Most Companies.” And it got me thinking…how much of what we do and say as security companies goes over the average company’s head (or better yet, in one ear and out the other)?

Think about “cyberwarfare” for a minute. Does it mean going to war with other nations using robots and computers? Is it when a terrorist brings down the Internet? Does it even matter to me? Or my business? Or my industry?

The reality is that cyberwarfare is a danger because bad people can use technical resources and systems to disrupt legitimate businesses and prevent them from performing their core work.

In a way, the term "cyberwarfare" falls into the same category as "identity theft.” It sounds really scary, but many regular people (even managers and business owners) don’t really know how it is executed, and with what tools and upon whom it is executed. Most people don't know what to do to protect themselves besides signing up for Lifelink.

Or how about “social engineering,” one of the most misunderstood terms in our security vocabulary. Internationally, it’s understood as a way to analyze and influence social systems. But in the security community, it describes con artists who use social situations (phone conversations, office visits, etc) to commit crimes. It’s real. It’s a major threat. But folks don’t understand it, so they don’t worry about it.

This lack of knowledge results in major complacency. Companies do not feel PERSONALLY threatened by identity theft or a social engineering attack—but they should. Executives need to educate themselves on the true impact to corporations and then educate their employees. 

Cyberwarfare, identity theft, social engineering—these are real threats with real every day impact on real people. They are not just international news headlines.

So security companies and IT professionals: it’s time to be louder. Time to be bolder. Maybe most importantly, it’s time to learn to speak the language of small and mid-range businesses with limited budgets and even more limited time. This is how we raise awareness.

We’ve got our work cut out for us.

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