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Four Global Trends Threatening Everyday Families

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Every day you see big companies in the headlines, news bulletins peddling scary statistics and a whole load of scaremongering on social media regarding cyber security and how it’s going to get us all! Sure, wealthy businessmen, high powered politicians, celebrities, premier league footballers and popular social media influencers will all need a decent level of protection, but pragmatically speaking, what is the actual risk for us every day folk?

The reality is this. There is a hell of a lot of scaremongering that goes on by companies pushing cyber security products, but there is still a risk posed to everyday people. It might not be as big and scary as firms like Symantec and McAfee would have us believe but there are a number of global trends, that are converging, which are creating a level of risk for everyday families.

How do these trends result in risk to everyday people?

Trend 1: Individuals Increasingly in the Cross-Hairs

We all know cyber attacks are on the rise, but they are increasingly being targeted against individuals. Long gone are the days where cyber criminals only target banks and financial institutions – historically this was where they could get the biggest bang for their buck. For example, Symantec’s Threat Report last year found that “not only has the sheer volume of threats increased, but the threat landscape has become more diverse, with attackers working harder to discover new avenues of attack”. The threat for big business is very much still there, however, cyber criminals have found ways to make targeting consumers much more profitable which is now putting the everyday family more squarely in the cross-hairs than ever before. For example, cyber criminals using things called ‘botnets’ leverage huge networks of secretly compromised devices (like your laptop or tablet) then generate cash through malware, crypto mining and ransomware attacks.

Trend 2: The Digitalisation of Everyday Life

We now live in a digital era. Almost everyone in western civilisation has a smart phone, a computer and a number of internet connected gadgets. Everything is becoming ‘smart’ and with each additional internet connected device, we have more vulnerabilities and open ourselves up to more attacks. In 2008, there were already more devices connected to the internet than people in the world. In 2018, we had an estimated 4.9 billion devices. Some are predicting that by 2020, that this number will exceed 50 billion[1] with every person in the world owning up to six internet connected devices [2]! As a result, cyber criminals are reacting to this digitisation of everyday life, demonstrated by a 300% increase in overall attacks relating to smart devices between 2018 and 2019 [3]. More devices means both more attacks and more ways in.

Trend 3: Lack of Awareness of the Threat

In the corporate world, there is an ever-increasing awareness of cyber-attacks and the harm they can cause. However, due to the fact that historically the threat has predominantly focused on big corporations, there is a significant lack of awareness on the consumer side. A survey conducted by Get Safe Online[4] found that 39% of UK residents were a victim of cybercrime but did not report it to the authorities. Let that sink in. Almost 40% of British citizens have suffered a cyber attack but dealt with it on their own…What’s more, a survey conducted by Chubb earlier this year found that “majority of individuals continue to underestimate the most common cyber threats.” There is a clear fundamental underappreciation by members of the public for the level of threat facing them.

Trend 4: The Onset of ‘Security Fatigue’

Existing security advice centres around scaring us witless and communicating the message that absolute security must be achieved. It is not pragmatic, helpful or even possible to have absolute security. The infamous hacker and renowned FBI fugitive Kevin Mitnick summarises it perfectly in his book ‘The Art of Invisibility’; “a persistent attacker will succeed given enough time and resources”. Pushing absolute security onto people only acts to confuse and overwhelm them, resulting in something called ‘security fatigue’ [5]. We get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of stuff we are told we must do to stay secure that actually we get paralysed by complexity and end up doing nothing! By doing nothing, you result in having zero protection at all…More and more of us are suffering from this ‘security fatigue’ resulting in us doing nothing at all – no protection for us or our kids.

Resulting in The Perfect Storm…

When you combine these trends, it creates the perfect storm for cyber criminals. They have;

• An increasing pool of potential targets (trend 1)…
• Who all have an increasing number of devices each (trend 2)…resulting in more opportunities and varying avenues of attack for cyber criminals.
• To make matters worse, these targets aren’t aware of the threat against them (trend 3) and therefore haven’t protected themselves, nor know what to do when things go wrong (trend 4).
• With more devices per person there is an increasing pool of vulnerabilities available to hackers to exploit.
• They exploit these devices under an increasingly scalable business model making it easier to reach their targets ‘on-mass’, thus making it more and more profitable for them.

So, now more than ever a solid approach to protecting everyday people from cyber-crime is needed.

As such, I’ve created the world’s first online community designed specifically for parents to help them get secure, stay secure and help them recover when things go wrong. Check it out now…www.simplecyberlife.com

Let me know your thoughts and comments to the ideas in this post, always welcome discussion 🙂

 

Jonny

Founder of www.SimpleCyberLife.com. Cyber security expert, public speaker and entrepreneur.

www.jonnypelter.com

jonny@simplecyberlife.com

 

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2015/10/27/17-mind-blowing-internet-of-things-facts-everyone-should-read/#98201df35051

[2] https://iot-analytics.com/iot-market-forecasts-overview/

[3] https://www.forbes.com/sites/zakdoffman/2019/09/14/dangerous-cyberattacks-on-iot-devices-up-300-in-2019-now-rampant-report-claims/#6b324b695892

[4] https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/cyber criminals-rob-109bn-from-uk-residents-in-a-year----and-eve/

[5] https://www.nist.gov/news-events/news/2016/10/security-fatigue-can-cause-computer-users-feel-hopeless-and-act-recklessly

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