On my way to the Breakfast Briefing yesterday that I was taking part in at The Loft at The Ivy Club, I was struck by City A.M’s front page – ‘Chaos,’ which, oddly enough, gave me a certain clarity of thought. Brexit is a hackers’ goldmine! While the country descends into ‘chaos,’ hackers are trying to exploit it, and you.
Now, this isn’t the type of hacker you’re thinking of. It’s not some opportunist looking to infiltrate an organisation by flexing their intellectual muscle. This is a sophisticated form of hacking that is developed for a purpose – reverse engineering applications to gather data and content. These hackers are getting increasingly more sophisticated and developing specialist techniques and tools – gathering knowledge of operating systems – to carry out subtle but devastating attacks.
The NHS WannaCry ransomware attack, for instance, cost the NHS £92m. It was essentially low-level code that was placed and executed perfectly. If these types of hacker execute their plan, they can paralyse and potentially destroy an organisation, exposing a company’s disastrous security, and exploit the company’s intellectual property for their gain.
What does this have to do with Brexit I hear you ask?
Well, as May’s deal was crushed by Parliament, do you really think anyone was talking about cybersecurity rather than the impact that Brexit will have on their business? Yes. Those looking to exploit the chaos and take advantage of Brexit viral communications. This chaos, with peoples guard lowered, presents a perfect environment for the likes of phishing attempts and malicious memes.
There is a massive shift with people sharing much more content and quicker than ever before. And this can result in greater threats and risk.
Take Instagram for example. We constantly upload photos, publicly displaying what we ‘like,’ and update our movements daily. It’s a diary that we broadcast for free. During times of high emotions, we are particularly susceptible to sharing too much information. You wouldn’t walk down the street telling people what car you drive, the watch you wear, or more appropriately – your political views.
Email phishing will remain the primary threat vector for attackers looking to exploit your personal information. These scams continue to mutate exponentially to sophisticated schemes embracing emerging technologies. With support from AI and machine learning, there are tools that develop fake profiles that mimic colleagues, friends, mutual contacts to exploit your data. And with the promised 5G the speed in which content and data will be disseminated will only increase security jeopardy.
The thing that worries me the most about still hugely influential social channels such as WhatsApp and Instagram – is their owner – Facebook. Whilst we continue to entrust the control of our content and data to external parties with their own agenda, we and the companies we work for are at risk. We are on the verge of a colossal hack on a cloud company – it will expose the shortcomings of the ‘guardians’ of our data.
The new black gold is data but it’s not all doom and gloom. You only have to click on Netflix or Spotify for an endless stream of content straight to your smartphone. From a consumer perspective, instant access to content is incredible. From a business’ perspective, securing the data is just adding another headache on top of the uncertainty around Brexit.
We are walking almost blindly into the digital revolution with all the opportunities it presents. The hangover to the party is the security risk of data being leaked and used as a weapon against us. Our businesses need to step up and take back control.