We are such a highly technological society that we often take it for granted. This can lead to opening ourselves up to cybercriminals at an alarming rate. A recent speech from FBI Director Christopher A. Wray emphasized that these cyber threats are “coming at us from all sides.” But who exactly are these culprits? And what is being done to prevent these types of hacks from occurring?
Where the threats come from
Professional “hacktivists” and hacking groups have long been associated with foreign entities, particularly Russia, North Korea, and China. While these hacking groups have used a wide range of methods to hack everything from personal and business accounts to spreading disinformation on social media, they are not the only possible threats that exist. The FBI is also seeing a large number of “blended threats,” which sees government agencies hiring outside criminal hackers to commit cybercrimes. They may not even utilize hackers directly but may also go after “businesspeople, academics, researchers, diplomats, [and] tourists.” Basically, anyone who has access to data may be used, sometimes completely unwittingly.
In addition to these international threats, there are also issues with homegrown cybercriminals. More often than not, these hackers tend to be younger, sometimes even high school students. The profile for these hackers shows a highly intelligent student who views hacking companies, government agencies, and personal accounts as a means of testing themselves. They see this as an intellectual challenge to prove that they can commit a hack, and not necessarily as a malicious action intended to gain monetary profit. (Although this may certainly be the outcome after the hack has occurred.)
There are also hacking collectives, such as the Kelihos botnet. These groups of hackers are responsible for spreading fake news, as well as stealing banking information. They also disseminate ransomware which hijacks a user’s computer and data along with a demand for monetary payment in exchange for the return of their information.
Fighting back against hackers
The FBI is currently taking a multi-pronged approach to combat these cybercrimes. By assigning cases based on technical expertise rather than jurisdiction, this approach has greatly helped in combating criminals. The FBI is realizing that it takes very specialized expertise in computer crime to help combat these attacks and they are utilizing their assets to the best of their abilities. They are also using “white-hat” hackers who are able to test security flaws and look for potential breaches in security systems. They are also expanding their outlook on cyber crimes to look at the cyber elements of non-hacking cases such as organized crime, human trafficking, and child exploitation. Non-specialized agents are also being trained to look for these digital thumbprints that can lead back to the cybercriminals. Finally, they are expanding their network of international cooperation to include other countries that will help them fight cybercrime. The previously mentioned Kelihos organization was brought down using a joint task force from the U.S., Spain, and the Netherlands.
Cybercrime is becoming the “new normal” when it comes to daily life in this digital era. The FBI is expanding the scope of its investigations and tools to help track down the criminals who are literally coming from all directions. But it is constant vigilance and safe computing that will ultimately do the best at combating these hackers.
Being aware of what is going on in the digital landscape is the best way to be able to prevent becoming a casualty. New Edge Technology Solutions believes you should know the reality of the dangers facing online businesses, so you can take measures to ensure you and your company are safe. We have a host of services to help. Contact us today for a free consultation.