Cyber Security: Threats and Challenges. How Do We Overcome? – Anindya Vinayak Gopal

Reflectionist- Anindya Vinayak Gopal

“The only truly secure system is one that is powered off, cast in a block of concrete and sealed in a lead-lined room with armed guards – and even then I have my doubts.”

Gene Spafford minces no words in expressing his skepticism on the issue of Cyber Security.

Cyber Security is the protection of internet-connected systems, including hardware, software, and data from cyber-attacks and threats. But, cyber threats are not only increasing year by the year but also are becoming harder to recognize and are also evolving with time so they can easily bypass normal anti-viruses. Some of the most common cyber threats include Malware, Phishing, Password Attacks, Distributed Denial of Service, Rogue Software, Maladvertising, Drive-by Downloads and Man in the Middle. These pose serious challenges for any individual or an organization at large for protection against unauthorized modification, deletion, and access to private data. The CIA Triad, viz-a-viz, Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of data to an authorized person is now under grim risk. Let’s take a look at the five most crucial security challenges at the present.

  1. Mobile Challenges – It is rumored that our Smart Phones know more about us nowadays than our closest friends, which is shockingly true. We store our chats and search history in our phones and then grant access to various third party apps demanding our personal information, such as location, contact info, etc, which might prove to be disastrous.
  2. Ransomware – It is a malware that encrypts all files in the system, that can only be unlocked by a secret key with the hacker, which the hacker chooses to exchange only with some huge ransom demanded via Bitcoin, and hence, the payee can remain anonymous.
  3. Internet of Things – With over 30 billion IoT devices estimated to be interacting with each other over the network by the end of 2020, which can range from an individual’s SmartWatch to the National Government’s Smart Electric Grid Project, the magnitude and gravity of cyber threat is unprecedented.
  4. Big Data – Currently, each individual in the world on an average is said to be generating approximately 1.7 MB of data per minute. Evidently, we are leaving behind a large digital footprint, thereby, providing bigger grounds for hackers to play upon.
  5. Human Factor – As the saying goes, amateurs hack systems with ethical hacking, while professionals hack people with Social Engineering. Our passwords are the weakest link in this scenario which we tend to carelessly give away. Now, what to do when a cyber-attack takes place? The following are the three steps broadly defined to be effective in any scenario: a) Identify – the source and nature of the attack. b) Analyze & Evaluate – how much risk it poses and what vulnerabilities it feeds upon. c) Treat – taking accurate measures to minimize risks.
    This can be done by calculating the 3 factors: Vulnerability, Threat & Risk.

Those are the curative measures that one can take after an attack has happened. But is there any way to predetermine an attack and block it beforehand? Sure, there is!
Big Data Analysis can do 3 things:

  1. Describe – that answers “what has happened?”
  2. Predict – that answers “what could happen?”
  3. Prescribe – that answers “what should we do?”
    With Big Data Analysis and Machine Learning, we can time travel virtually into the future, just a few hours ahead, predict what attacks can take place at a given moment in time, time travel back in the present and take all the preventive measures by covering the loopholes and strengthening the security, and thus, being one step ahead of the attacker.
    Human-Machine Interaction is a quintessential problem solver for almost all our activities today and can play a key role ahead when it comes to Cyber Security.