Botnets, Trojans, SQL Injections and DDoS attacks. Most internet users have no idea what those things are, or how they are shaping the future of their connected lives. One thing is certain, more computers and wireless devices are going to be compromised this year than were last year. Some companies will go out of business as a result. State secrets will be revealed. A mysterious charge will appear on your credit card bill each month.
Over 70,000 new cyber security threats are discovered on a daily basis. Even the strongest networks are not safe from hackers. Last year’s well-reported hacks included the Central Intelligence Agency, U.K. Treasury, Lockheed Martin, and Sony’s famous compromise of 77 million online user accounts in August and again in October 2011. The Apple operating system is not safe. PC systems are definitely not safe. Android smartphones are a mobile hackers favorite platform.
Some will be the handiwork of hactivist groups like Anonymous, trying to make a socio-political point by interrupting corporate and government computer servers; others will be multimillionaire criminals hiding out in Moscow, writing malware so sophisticated, like the new Foncy trojan that it disguises itself as an EA Sports NFL Madden 2012 download. Click on it, and instead of Tom Brady throwing spirals to the Brady Bunch, this program will remotely operate your Android phone. Only, it’s not crank calling your girlfriend. It’s downloading your credit card information.
“Cyberspace is crucial for social and economic development and we are getting to a point where attacks can destroy the internet infrastructure,” said Alexander Ntoko. He’s the head of the corporate strategy division at the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency. Ntoko is also responsible for managing the execution of the ITU’s Global Cybersecurity Agenda, a global framework for international cooperation launched by the ITU Secretary-General way back in 2007 in response to calls from ITU members for someone to organize a global effort to rebuild trust and security in the information society.
Eugene Kaspersky is the jovial, traveling salesman and CEO of Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, one of the biggest internet security firms in the world. He is not as upbeat on stage as he appears in real life. He is the Nouriel Roubini of cyber space, the web’s own Dr. Doom.
“If we fail to patch these holes in the internet that all of these threats — from hactivists to cyber gangs to state sponsored cyber attacks like Stuxnet — then the internet as we know it is gone,” he told a gathering of about 100 journalists and IT specialists in Cancun this week.