Personal the data is more appealing than ever to a cyber attacker.
Specifically, in relation to personal, health, and financial information, technology has allowed us to do some amazing things. Many of the social, financial, and health systems that keep our country running smoothly run on our data. Our ability to collect, store, and interpret that data with greater bulk, speed and accuracy is always growing, but the more vital data becomes to our lives, the more potentially dangerous it becomes.
Innovation Outpaces Security
One of the big reasons that we have faced so many high-profile security crises in recent years is that development of new ways to connect with one another often outpaces the ability to effectively secure them.
One of the biggest examples of this comes with the internet of things (IoT), which put simply, describes the way that modern devices interact with one another. Phones, voice assistants, tablets, speakers, cars and home thermostats, commonly interact with each other via, most commonly, Bluetooth or cloud services. iCloud, for example, syncs data including messages across all devices in a household — which, had an unintended side-effect of a spike in divorces because cheaters are getting caught much more often.
The security risks that come with IoT go much further than getting caught cheating, however. Cloud and Bluetooth technology create a chain of devices all connected with one another, all with slightly different permissions about what can and can’t be accessed. One weak link in the chain gives an attacker access to a whole lot more. The better our technology gets, the more the things in our lives talk to one another. The more that happens, the more points of entry a cyberattacker has. Hackers gaining access to a casino’s network through the thermostat of a connected fish tank is one example of simple oversight. It isn’t necessarily true that our security isn’t good enough; it’s that we don’t always know which devices are vulnerable.
Data, an Evermore Valuable Commodity
Cybercrime comes in many forms, but the general rule of thumb is the more personal the data, the more profitable stealing it becomes. This makes healthcare and financial data ripe for the picking, often because the companies that handle them aren’t tech companies themselves — and so don’t necessarily understand recent data security developments.
Hackers aren’t just after credit card numbers; all sorts of information can be used for identity theft, social engineering, or be held for ransom. Healthcare data is at high risk of being targeted, making cybercrime a significant risk for the industry. Data breaches account for losses of $5.6 billion per year across the healthcare industry, according to Norwich University. One of the core issues contributing to the issue of healthcare data is that companies may not be as digitally savvy because they aren’t in the tech sector. Often data processing and security is outsourced or poorly managed. Only about half of healthcare companies employ people with the expertise to deal with or even identify data breaches, Norwich reveals.
Tech-adjacent industries carry a lot of risks. Healthcare is one example — where the industry has come to rely on data and new digital tools without a thorough understanding of how they work. Connected technology has also created a number of blind spots, making it more difficult to predict where an attack might take place. Data security training is going to become ever more valuable in fields outside of software development and computer engineering.