This article is part of Panther’s new Future of Cyber Attacks Series which features interviews with cyber security experts, thought leaders, and practitioners with a goal of better understanding what organizations can do to prepare themselves for the future of cyber attacks.
The following is an interview we recently had with Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer at TRG Datacenters.
How have cyber attacks evolved over the past 12 months?
The number of cyber attacks targeting individuals, businesses, and governments has increased exponentially over the last year. Moreover, these attacks have become increasingly sophisticated thanks to their use of more advanced technology such as 5G and AI.
What lessons can be learned from the biggest cyber attacks in recent history?
One major lesson from the recent Microsoft Exchange Server attack that happened in January 2021 is that businesses and governmental organizations need to invest heavily in prevention of attacks. Entities need to understand where their data is, who has access to it, and how data flows within the organization so as to identify vulnerable points and secure them before any attack occurs. This process needs to be iterative to ensure all the vulnerabilities in the data chain are taken care of at all times.
A second lesson is that companies need to improve their detection capabilities to root out anomalous activity as early and as quickly as possible. Detection acts as a fail safe to mitigate against loss should prevention fail to achieve its purpose.
What will cyber attacks look like in the future?
Cyber attacks are only going to get more sophisticated as they continue to employ advanced technology. AI, especially, will contribute to the growing sophistication and frequency of cyber attacks. As these attacks become more sophisticated, the ransom demands will also increase exponentially.
We should also expect to see different varieties of cyber attacks emerging. For instance, state sponsored attacks as well as organized cyber criminal gangs will continue increasing in number in the years to come. Phishing attacks will also increase in variety and intensity.
Furthermore, the majority of the political unrest we shall witness in the coming years will primarily be instigated by cyber criminals. This includes the use of fake news to interfere with electoral processes and to sway public opinion.
What are three pieces of advice for organizations looking to get ahead of the cyber attacks of the future?
- Automation is crucial to protecting your business from cyber security threats. Automation reduces the chances of human error that can expose your business to security threats. Moreover, automated cyber security systems are easier to scale.
- Ensure that you have a backup of everything stored in a secure place with limited access. Backups will help ensure you are not forced into paying ransomware once an attack has occurred.
- Make sure all your software, including security software, is up to date, and regularly check for and install security updates.