Are we becoming too reliant on technology and opening ourselves to cyber attacks both foreign and domestic?
Throughout the last five decades the use of technology has increased exponentially in almost every field in society. Today nearly every business, adult, and child relies on technology in his or her daily lives and in some instances, people can not make it through the day without their devices. With this reliance on technology, businesses and people are susceptible to cyber attacks, identity theft, and government surveillance. With this in mind, people have to be aware of the danger they can be in while using technology in their daily life. These dangers increase for people and businesses in the IT fields. This paper has the agenda to educate people of these risks but more importantly, to be a resource for businesses to see the need for a strong IT security branch. To examine one incident in 2015, millions of social security numbers were stolen in the Anthem/Blue Cross Blue Shield hack leaving these victims vulnerable to identity theft for the remainder of their lives with no way of knowing when or if they will become a victim again. Even with the increasing risk of cyber attacks, people’s reliance on technology is increasing with the new advancements made every year. This reliance will continue to grow as long as the new technology made every month continues to make peoples lives easer. With that being said, the need for cyber security is growing every second.
In the past decades, technology has become a vital part of any business wanting to operate efficiently. If we look at the car industry in Detroit, we see that the car manufacturers are mechanizing the production of cars by replacing traditional employees with highly technical machines. These machines are becoming a key component of any major car manufacturing operation because it allows the manufacturer to produce cars of a higher quality at a faster rate with smaller overhead cost. In order to accomplish this many manufacturers spend millions of dollars to develop or purchase the necessary machinery and programming to produce a vehicle that meets their design goals. This idea of mechanizing their business is not limited to just the car industry but can be seen in almost every business for high tech engineering firms using a CAD (Computer aided drafting or computer aided design or Computer aided … ) program to aid in their work to supermarkets using self checkout lanes instead of manned cash registers. This technology-based business model does not end here with businesses also shifting their books from paper to digital. Just stop and think for a moment. Can you remember the last time you received a paper statement for a bill?
With this increase in the use of technology, businesses open themselves up to be susceptible to two forms of attacks. Businesses allow hackers to have the ability to steal sensitive information like patents and trade secrets as well as steal their customers’ personal information and bank accounts. This is supported by the increasing number of cyber attacks on United States businesses. Since November 2014 there were thirty major cyber attacks on U.S business. This list includes attacks on companies like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Las Vegas Sand Corp, Uber and many more across all fields. In February 2015 the Health insurer Anthem, Inc., suffered a massive cyber attack. This attack affected about 80 million current and former customers. “The compromised information included Social Security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and employee information. The information of anywhere between 8.8 million and 18.8 million customers of Blue Cross Blue Shield was also affected, having been stored on the same servers” (Walters). The main issue that resulted in the extremely high number of people being affected by this attack was the fact that multiple companies had customers’ sensitive information stored on one server. A server is a place that has a high amount of digital storage and is accessible over the Internet. Because of this one hacker has the ability to sit at home on their couch and have access to millions of people’s information. Attacks of this nature are increasing because prior to digitalization, many business’ books were 100% paper copies and filed away in locked rooms. The only way to steal the information would be to break into the building, Mission Impossible style. Furthermore, when it was time to dispose of the sensitive material the only thing one would have to do is put the papers through a shredder. Today it is not that simple because no matter how hard you try there will always be a digital footprint and someone somewhere will have the skills to recover any files.
It is for this very reason that the field of IT security is becoming very important. Businesses have to stay one step ahead of potential hackers for multiple reasons: one, it is a moral responsibility to protect your customers, but the more importantly (to CEOs anyway) is the money it costs to fix what a hacker has done. In Emily Mossburg’s article “ A Deeper Look at the financial impact of cyber attacks,” she discusses the cost a business will incur after a cyber security breach. The first major impact she discuses is the closer compliance scrutiny a business will be under. Mossburg describes that after the business deals with the initial fines, they will be investigated by a governing agency which often leads to the uncovering of more violations with additional fines. The financial impact of a security breach does not end here as they will also be faced with higher cyber insurance premiums, increased public relations and legal costs, increase cost to raise debt, and an big impact on the business’s bottom line. Looking more in-depth with one of the impacts, increased cost to raise debt, a Deloitte study found that in a “comparison of companies that had, and had not, suffered cyber breaches suggests that on average, a breach causes a full-level downgrade in credit rating (Mossburg)” This alone can cost a business millions. For example, with a downgraded credit rating a business can be paying an additional $3.6 million in interest over the lifespan of a $100 million loan. These impacts can cripple any business no matter the size. This is becoming increasingly important every day because, according to the Pew Research Center, the rate at which Cyber attacks are happening is increasing and will continue to increase.
The Pew Research Center is predicting an annual increase in cyber attack rates due to multiple factors. One is because “the Internet has become so integral to economic and national life that government, business and individual users (Rainie)” and because governments are using cyber attacks to fulfill a political agenda while keeping some form of deniability. The results of this study were summarized in the article “Cyber Attacks likely to increase” by Lee Rainie. In this summary, Rainie discuses major cyber attacks that lead to global events based on countries’ responses to these attacks. One of the most alarming attacks on the U.S.A discussed in this article was in May 2014 when five Chinese military officers were arrested on US soil for computer hacking, espionage, and other offenses that were aimed at six US victims, including nuclear power plants, metals, and solar products industries. This was just one incident in a five year cyber conflict between the US and China. In response to incidences like this one, “the American Defense Department has created a Cyber Command structure that builds Internet-enabled defensive and offensive cyber strategies as an integral part of war planning and war making (Rainie).” This shows another incidence where IT security is on the front line and a needed field today.
One will think that with the continuous advancement in technology, the risk of cyber attracts will decrease. Sadly this is not the fact but instead the opposite is predicted to happen according to David Lerman in his article “Cyber-Attacks to Grow with new technologies clappers says” published in Bloomberg business. Lerman states the “The risk of cyber-attacks is likely to increase with the growth of virtual currencies, networked health care and emerging technologies”. This implies that as we are making advancements in technology to become more secure, we are also increasing the amount of technology we are using in our daily lives. This of course is resulting in the risk of being online relatively constantly. Lerman also continues to discuss that the type of attacks constantly change and that it is hard to develop protection from all of them. One of the newer attacks that Lerman discusses in his article is that the goal of some organizations are not to steal information but instead to simply cause panic for a group of people. One example of this is when the Palestinian military group overwhelmed major U.S servicers causing them to go off line and preventing costumers from access them. An IT security engineer at Fidelity further explains this idea; he states “today people in my field only know what hackers can already do and we work hard to prevent them or anyone else to do it again. But there is always going to be a different threat that we can not prepare for” (Tousaw). This statement confirms the fact that no matter what happens in the advancements of technology we are always to be vulnerable to a cyber attack. The only thing we can effect is the difficultly it will be for a potential hacker to access your information. Due to this the field of computer science is becoming increasingly more important across college campuses.
The USnew article “Computer science continues growth on college campuses” by Ryan Lytle address the increasing interest in computer science across the U.S. From the 2000-2001 to the 2011-2012 school year college campuses had seen a twenty five percent increase in the student enrollment in computer science, but with the highest increase in the later five school years. Lytle predicts that this growth is due to “the economy and the job market in technology fields, which are still seen as pretty strong despite the fact that the broader economy may be perceived as weak.” These statistics illustrate the importance that the future of technology has on our economy. Yes not all these students will be entering the field of security, but there is a high probability that they will be working on servers, hardware, software and programs that will be increasingly difficult to hack in the future. The U.S department of labor expects this field to grow by 19 percent by the year 2020, another statistic that illustrates the growing demand for young talent in technology. This shows that there will be a shift in the job force in the near future and requires newly educated individuals to fill those openings.
If you are older then twenty-five you have seen first hand the increasing use of technology in the majority of people. These technology improvements made life more convenient with each update. However, every positive impact also comes with a negative impact. A new risk was also invented with the increase in technology; the idea of cyber attacks. There are multiple forms of cyber attacks, varying from a hacker stealing your identity to the U.S sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program. With this increasing risk, businesses and people have to take a look at understanding IT security.
“Cyber-Attacks to Grow With New Technologies, Clapper Says.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
“Cyber Attacks Likely to Increase.” Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
“Cyber Attacks on U.S. Companies Since November 2014.” The Heritage Foundation. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
US News. U.S.News & World Report. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
MOSSBURG, EMILY1,2. “A Deeper Look AT THE Financial Impact OF Cyber Attacks.” Financial Executive 31.3 (2015): 77-80. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 28 Mar. 2016.
Tousaw, Austin, IT security engineer for Fidelity, Conversation with him
At fist I didn’t choose a audience and form a question and thesis around I first devolved a question I though played an important role in todays society and through brainstorming this idea and bouncing my ideas of people in my fraternity. I found my audience when talking to an IT security major and having a conversation with him sparked ideas and resulted in me wanting to do more research based on our conversation. To further reach my audience of IT interested students and business I used one thing that almost everyone is interested in and that is talking about money. When addressing businesses I focused on how they are increasing their risk of falling victim to a cyber attack then how much the aftermath of the attack will cost them in the long run. Which could be millions depending on the size of the business and in some cases billions. The next main audience I focused on was students and how the IT and computer engineering fields are growing at a high rate and currently have a very high job placement after graduation. Through this paper I hope I could reach out to these audiences and show them the importance of IT security and how it’s a field that has to be front in center.
This topic is a very relevant today because every day they’re cyber attacks across the globe and even more failed attempts. With this being said they are a lot of resource out there on this topic both good and bad. One does have to sort out the conspiracy theory articles and ones of the governments not being completely open. But with the ladder point is also a reason why this topic is so important because governments both good and bad can perform attacks on their enemy will still maintain some kind of deniability. Any resource can be improved one thing that will be nice to read is all the attacks one security firmed prevented and how. But with this would lead to knowledge of working around the firewalls being public. So I don’t think this will happen in the near future. One source of primary research I would like to do is the ability to talk to a hacker to see why and how they perform these attacks. With this information I will be able to show both sides of the coin in my paper making a more compete document.
I was able to engage with a part of my audience being people related to the It security field. Which was the audience in the Pitch HW, but as my research went on my audience grew to include students and business, which makes me interested to see what there responses would be. I was a able to follow up by just sitting down with him and having another conversation with him after I sent in the HW assignment.