In November 2014, Sony encountered what Reuters dubbed as the most well-known destructive cyberattack on American soil to date. About three-quarters of the computers and servers at the studio’s main operation were destroyed – data were wiped clean and some of its networks became inoperable.
However, the damages goes far beyond that – the cyberattack released countless of emails involving top executives, revealing private conversations about some of the world’s biggest celebrities. It also leaked five films, making them available for illegal downloading and resulting in a loss of income. Four of these films have not been released in theatres when the cyberattack took place.
Sony will not be the only victim of destructive cyberattacks. Last year, the FBI warned US businesses to guard themselves against an emerging new wave of such cyberattacks that are designed to destroy, vandalise and discredit data. Stealing data was once considered the predominant hacking goal.
Similarly, a survey that was recently released in April 2015 by Trend Micro Incorporated and the Organization of American States, revealed that destructive cyberattacks are much more prevalent than what was originally believed. The survey, which was conducted to investigate the trends of attacks against critical infrastructures in America, indicates that these infrastructures are becoming the targets of such attacks.
In general, cyberattacks are on the rise. A separate study conducted by PwC across 154 countries revealed that the number of detected security incidents increased to 48% in 2014. This is equivalent to 117,339 incoming attacks per day, every day, not limited to destructive cyberattacks.
Singapore is not isolated from such threats. In November 2013, the websites of the local government and news sources became victims and targets of cyberattacks. In June 2014, more than 1500 SingPass accounts were illegally accessed. This year, the government set up an agency called the Cyber Security Agency to develop a national-level strategy that will tackle such threats. This agency will coordinate the efforts of other existing agencies from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Infocomm Development Authority.
The threat is real and there are precautions to take to guard yourself or your company against it.
Here are some tips:
- Routinely change your password. Make it stronger by using a combination of uppercases, lowercases, numbers and symbols.
- Put up a strong firewall to protect your network.
- Install and update your malware protection/antivirus softwares.
- Keep your programs updated to ensure recent issues or holes have been fixed.
- Do not forget about your mobile phones. In today’s culture, our smartphones contain just as much data. Install an encryption software or consider enabling remote data wipe as a last resort.
- Backup your data to an external drive or cloud regularly to keep your data stored safely.
- Take extra precautions when opening links, emails or attachments.
- Educate your staff to remain vigilant against possible threats.
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