The cyber world has been awash with hacker activity and notably the biggest reports over the past few months are concentrated in the Middle East. These hacker activities and incidences of malware attacks have now been established to be politically instigated. The attacks have been aimed at Iran and their nascent nuclear ambitions. The attacks are designed to sabotage and even corrupt SQL databases unlike many attacks which are specifically done to steal data from the networks and other infrastructure. Cyber-crime has been on the rise and majority of the attacks have been aimed businesses and financial institutions with monetary gain the biggest incentive for the cyber criminals. The new wave of Cyber-crime is something sensitive in the Middle East region which is an escalation in cyber war between governments and nations.
Touching on other incidences reported elsewhere and where hackers have caused problems for organizations, businesses and people, we look at reported and analyzed attacks. The hackers have the preferred methods and technologies with which they exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities in the personal computers, networks, websites and any other infrastructure used over the internet. No one will ever want to fall prey to any of the hacker activity or malware attacks known today since unlike in old times, the malware and attacks are getting sophisticated and more devastating. These entire attacks amount to cyber crime and measures to counter these threats have to be formulated and implemented to avoid the inconveniences and the losses associated with hacker activity and malware.
Mobile phones and other portable gadgets are the newest frontier where hackers are having it easy and have really mounted numerous attacks on the users of these devices. Smartphones are a problem not only to the owner but also to the big corporations and businesses and it is with a good reason. The Bring Your Own Device phenomenon to the workplace has been a big headache for security experts. These are devices with the ability to connect to networks within the institution and become a soft point which can be exploited by hackers to gain entry into the business network. The other vulnerability has to do with the Android platform which has an open source model which is also exploited by hackers who develop apps aimed at stealing data.
The other characteristic with the hacker attacks and related breaches in security have had to do with hacktivism which is seen as the groups and isolated cases of an individual. The motivation with these groups is a political or activist agenda. The hackers exploit what can be called democratic space and freedom in this internet age. Their actions might not be legal or legitimate but there will be no stopping for these groups when they want to vent out what they particularly feel or think. Statistics indicate that the almost fifty percent of stolen data in the past year has been attributed to the social and political causes. The high profile incidences reported have the attacks on US government websites.
Social media continues to provide easy fodder for the hackers and other cyber criminals. The social media sites provide an easy avenue to spread malware to unsuspecting people. Accounts on Facebook and Twitter have been used to target other social media users with adware, and other forms of malware. Hackers have also forcefully taken over social media accounts belonging to organizations, famous personalities and celebrities. The profiles can then be used to breach security within an organization’s network and further damage perpetrated by the hackers.
Espionage has been making headlines in the cyber world and the reported attacks have been reported in the Middle East. Iran has been targeted with very powerful viruses believed to be work of the U.S government and the Israel government. One example of the viruses is Stuxnet and was targeted at databases of the Iranian nuclear program with the intention of shutting down machines and centrifuges that are used to refine uranium. Following the discovery of the attacks by Stuxnet, there were subsequent viruses and worms also aimed at the nuclear facilities in Iran. Stars, Flame also named Skywiper or Flamer and even more recently a similar worm to flame named Niralam has been discovered and reported. Flame has been reported as one of the most complex threats ever discovered to date. The Flame malware is a sophisticated threat and has complex capabilities in harvesting sensitive data through the surveying of traffic within the network, the taking of screenshots, recording of audio conversations and collecting passwords as part of the many capabilities of the malware. The malware have been collectively classified as weapons used in espionage owing to the localization of the attacks in the Middle East and the sophistication of the malware.
It is the responsibility of individuals and of organizations and companies to make sure that make sure that malware attacks are stopped. Well known vulnerabilities and areas of weakness should be addressed since malware and hackers are always on the lookout for points of entry.