My son Kyle’s first word was “Car”. His second word was “Bang”. So I’m hoping this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.
The recent credit card security breach at US retail giant Target affected 70 million customers was a major wake up call to businesses around the world. The incident underscores that the notion of a hacker as some lone, geeky miscreant, tapping away at a keyboard in a darkened room, is now obsolete. The modern cybercriminal is formidable, sophisticated and very well organised.
The shifting frontlines
Data breaches like the one Target suffered are typically conducted by organised crime syndicates or similar groups with high levels of technology savvy, engaging highly-skilled resources from around the world. They present a very real threat to the modern technology-enabled organization – both large and small.
The first line of defense is also no longer simply the individual, as it once was. In today’s cloud-based, digitally-stored-information world consumers no longer "own" their data. Much of the information consumers routinely share with government, banks, insurance companies, businesses and schools, for example, are now stored on many servers they neither see nor control.
The key then is to counter cyber threats with the same level of investment, sophistication and thoughtfulness as the cybercriminals. As clever and well-resourced as they may be, they can be thwarted.