How is cyber security evolving?

Post by Open Colleges on August 26th, 2020

Technology is constantly evolving at break-neck speed. As we race to keep up with the pace of new technology and meet the demands of the cyber security industry, it’s becoming clear that we need a workforce of passionate, forward-thinking people to face up to the challenge.

What is cyber threat evolution?

The internet has made our lives invariably easier since its invention. But while it has made our daily lives more manageable and opened up incredible new opportunities for humanity’s future, there are those who want to exploit it for personal gain.

Cyber threats are evolving every day. Hackers are constantly looking for new ways to exploit individuals and organisations alike. And it’s becoming easier for amateur hackers to access high-level malicious software, with the eruption of “malware as a service”. What that means is that highly skilled cyber criminals are creating malware and selling it off to other cyber criminals, making a profit without the risk of deploying this malware themselves.

What are the impacts of cyber attacks in Australia?

Cyber crime costs the Australian economy around $29 billion every year, according to the federal government. As well as the economy, cyber crime can adversely affect jobs, innovation, and investment.

A cyber attack on a company (large or small) can be costly to fix, and can be hugely disruptive to business. On top of this, if customers’ important details are stolen, the business could risk having its reputation severely damaged. As a result, people will stop buying their products or services.

So, while there are costs incurred in beefing up the cyber security, it can be far less costly than running the risk of a cyber attack.

There is also the issue of personal safety when a cyber attack is successful on a business and important data is stolen. How would you feel knowing that your personal details, bank details, or other important information were in the hands of cyber criminals?

The cyber security skills gap       

The cyber security skills shortage is a global issue. ISACA recently published a report that delved deep into the worldwide skills gap, and found that:

  • 62% of respondents said that their organisation’s cyber security team was understaffed;
  • 57% currently had unfilled cyber security positions;
  • 32% said that it took 6 months or more to find a qualified cyber security specialist to fill a role; and
  • 70% said that less than half of cyber security applicants were under-qualified.

These are some pretty daunting statistics, especially when you consider that by 2026 it’s predicted that Australia will need an estimated 17,000 cyber security workers.

For many companies, the problems also lie in a lack of experience and qualifications. 89% of respondents in the survey said that a lack of credentials was a big issue they faced when hiring cyber security workers.

If you’re considering a career in cyber security, now is the time for you to start studying and gain both experience and credentials if Australia is going to meet the challenges of the future head on.

Common types of cyber attacks

Malware is the name given to different types of malicious software, such as viruses, trojans, spyware and ransomware. Malware is classed as a cyber threat. But under this umbrella there are many different types of malware.

Aside from malware, there are also other types of cyber threats that users must be aware of.

Here are some common types of cyber threats in Australia:

1. Botnet
A botnet is a network of infected devices that are controlled by a hacker. Attackers can gain control of a smart device by infecting it with a virus. While a botnet itself isn’t a form of cyber attack, a sophisticated botnet can be used by a hacker to increase the effectiveness of their attacks.

2. Cryptomining malware
There has been a spike in cryptocurrency mining attacks recently. Cryptocurrency and cryptomining themselves are not illegal. Crypto mining becomes illegal when a cyber criminal hacks into a user’s computer without their knowledge and uses the processing power of their computer to mine for cryptocurrency.

3. Distributed denial of service (DDoS)
A DDoS attack aims to prevent normal use of a website. By denying service, a hacker can then demand payment so that the website can be accessed normally again.

4. Phishing
As we become more educated on cyber threats and what they look like, phishing attacks have become more and more sophisticated. Phishing attacks will try to get users to open a fake email or other communications with the goal of tricking you into providing banking details and other information. As the nature of cyber security and cyber threats continue to evolve, the sophistication of phishing attacks do, too.

5. Man-in-the-middle
This is also sometimes known as eavesdropping. A hacker inserts themselves between a user and the transaction they’re trying to make (such as logging in to their email, or completing a payment) without the user’s knowledge so they can steal their data.

How to keep up with the evolution of cyber security

The best way to keep ahead of the ever-changing nature of cyber threats is to educate yourself on the different types of threats and how to look out for them.

One of the best ways you can do this, and gain a certification in the process, is to study an online cyber security course.

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