Tags: Trump Administration | Emerging Threats | Hillary Clinton | computer | smartphone

Profitability Ensures Hacking Thrives

Profitability Ensures Hacking Thrives


Thursday, 05 January 2017 08:38 AM Current | Bio | Archive

Throughout the election cycle the real world issue of cyber security continually played at the forefront of our newsfeeds. Whether the pundits and columnists were arguing in favor of an expanded investigation into the private server of former secretary of state and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, or downplaying the possibility of a conviction, the unresolved issue of Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information was seen as a major reason for her surprising loss in November.

What exactly the potential for disaster related to enemies, both foreign and domestic, possibly having gained access to our most critical national security secrets is still yet to be fully known.

Australian journalist and computer programmer Julian Assange’s Wikileaks was able to expose everything from the rigging of the Democratic Primary against the candidate that many saw as the Democrat’s best chance, Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., to the racist undertones of their party’s minority outreach efforts.

While many in the mainstream media were quick to downplay or may have outright refused to give coverage to many of these issues, the fact that a major American political party’s most secretive communications were so easily compromised may have been the greatest revelation of the 2016 presidential election. Even the "international hacktivist" group Anonymous continually teased potential game changing revelations throughout the process while not taking any official position on the election.

While the average citizen may interpret this as a high stakes game between powerful international entities the truth is that cybercrime has become a billion dollar business.

Over the past few months international technology giant and email servicer Yahoo.com had to reveal that in two separate disclosures, over 1.5 billion of their account holders' information had been compromised in attacks perpetrated in 2013 and 2014.

With many people and businesses using Yahoo’s email product as a means to transmit everything from financial data and other personal information to trade secrets or other business data many users are scrambling to assess potential damages.

Unfortunately, I was a recent victim of a ransomware attack.

It turned out to be a version of the '.locky ransomware that thankfully was minimally impactful. I was met with a demand for a payment in Bitcoins or I would lose my files.

Since I had secure backups of my data, I refused to give in to the monetary demand, and, due to this potentially devastating experience, I decided to do some research on the business of cybercrime.

With ransomware variants such as Cryptolocker, Locky, TeslaCrypt, Petya and SamSam encrypting the files of unsuspecting victims across the globe, the ransomware trend is reaching across all demographics.

Most of the ransomware attacks Americans have suffered were perpetrated by hackers located outside of the United States. The culprits were from countries like Poland, Ukraine and, yes, Russia.

Historically, the holiday season brings a spike in malware infections.

Malware infections increased 84 percent during the holiday season from 2015 to 2014.

Even more to the point, this past holiday season began with a spike in malware infections in the four weekend days to the previous year and found the following increases in malware infections: Black Friday Nov. 25, 2016 — 88.76 percent; Sat. Nov. 26, 2016 —106.19 percent; Sun. Nov. 27 2016 — 114.32 percent, Cyber Monday Nov. 28, 2016 —118 percent.

These attacks were not intended to expose political party malfeasance or swing the election of the world’s leading superpower. These attacks were an attempt to extort the average citizen of their hard earned money.

The victims of these security breaches reach across all demographics although there is a concentration of victimization within the elderly community. They tend to be inexperienced and many lack savvy as newer computer users. In a lot of instances, they will just pay the demands of their victimizers who post official-looking demands for payment in order to release their personal documents.

After a holiday season in which many of us engaged in online shopping using our personal payment information, it is especially important to remember to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your personal data. With over 210 million total computer in 2016 and smartphone sales of a staggering 1.6 billion, there is no shortage of potential victims for cyber criminals.

Julio Rivera is an entrepreneur, small business consultant and political activist. He contributes to RightWingNews.com and NewsNinja2012.com, and had previously covered boxing and baseball for the now defunct "The Urban News" in his native Paterson, N.J. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Cyber crime is not intended to expose political party malfeasance or swing elections of the world’s leading superpower. Attacks are an attempt to extort the average citizen of hard earned money. There is no shortage of victims for cyber criminals.
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Thursday, 05 January 2017 08:38 AM
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