[SHOCKER] Internet Security is Getting Worse

Category: Security

An IBM study of Internet security was released this week, and the news is both surprising and depressing. Data breaches, denial of service attacks, and ransomware are up by over 500%. Spam and phishing are also on the rise. Here's what you need to know...

The State Of Network Security Is Awful

A record increase in stolen data and ransomware extortion incidents has security experts sounding the alarm. The IBM X-force Threat Intelligence Index released in March 2017, shows a 566% increase in stolen records, from 600 million in 2015 to more than 4 BILLION in 2016. Accordingly, the IBM report is subtitled "The year of the mega breach." Simultaneously, ransomware has grown from an occasional nuisance to a worldwide plague. Spam, once on the decline, ballooned 400%. That’s not good news.

IBM’s annual index is based on observations of more than 8,000 monitored security clients in 100 countries and data derived from non-client assets such as honeypots (servers deliberately set up to attract hackers) and spam sensors. IBM X-force records 8 million spam and phishing attacks daily, and analyzes 37 billion web pages and images for hidden threats.

Cyber Security Getting Worse

Not everything in the Threat Intelligence Index directly pertains to consumers’ home computers. But when computers at companies both large and small are breached, the leaks of passwords, credit card details, and other personal data have powerful impacts on end users. Ransomware and phishing attacks, on the other hand, are often directed at consumers.

The bad guys are increasingly targeting unstructured data - email archives, business documents containing trade secrets, source code, etc. That’s because the value of structured data like passwords and credit card details has plummeted due to supply far outstripping demand. In other words, crooks have stolen more structured data than they can use, for now at least.

Ransomware is a billion dollar per year industry now. IBM Security found that 70% of businesses hit by ransomware paid over $10,000 to get their systems unlocked or their data decrypted. In the first three months of 2016, the FBI estimated that businesses paid $209 million in ransoms, an annual rate of over $800 million. And those are just the reported cases.

Evolving Threats

In my September 2015 article, Spammers and Scammers in the Slammer, I reported on many high-profile spammers who had been caught and sentenced to prison. But the focus of spam has shifted from selling products to delivering ransomware. Ransomware attacks are delivered as attachments to spam emails in many cases. This tactic fueled a 400% increase in spam during 2016. About 44% of spam emails included malicious attachments, and 85% of those were ransomware.

Healthcare was the most-targeted industry in 2015. Hackers switched to financial services in 2016. But while financial services saw the most attacks last year, the industry finished third in total number of compromised records. The lower success rate indicates that continued investments in security have had positive effects.

Healthcare systems continued to see a high number of attacks, but the focus was on smaller healthcare information systems, so the number of compromised records was relatively small - “only” 12 million. In 2015, over 100 million healthcare records were stolen. The shift to smaller targets suggests that large healthcare systems have beefed up their security compared to their smaller brethren.

Information and communication services, i. e., Yahoo and mobile data service providers, experienced the largest number of attacks and records leaks in 2016 - 3.4 billion records leaked in 85 breaches. Government victims had 398 million records stolen in 39 successful attacks.

Cybercrime is virtually invisible to consumers until a massive data leak makes news headlines. But it’s clear from the IBM X-force Security Index that the war between black hats and white hats is raging ever higher.

Home users must be well informed and vigilant. Anti-virus protection is your first line of defense. See my recommended Free Anti-Virus Programs, and be extra cautious with emails that contain attachments. I still recommend that you personally contact the sender to make sure they intended to send you the attached file, even if they are friend or family.

IBM encourages businesses to implement best practices for information security, and to share findings across the security community. By reacting quickly and sharing details widely, cybercrime will become less financially viable for attackers.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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Most recent comments on "[SHOCKER] Internet Security is Getting Worse"

Posted by:

Linda
30 Mar 2017

In the last two weeks I have been getting phishing TEXT messages on my mobile phone. While I am used to phishing emails and can spot them right away, this is the first time I have ever received phishing text msgs. Very annoying, as I have a Pay As You Go plan, so I pay for every incoming and outgoing text msg, and in order to have the charges reimbursed I have to call my service provider. I can block these numbers, but then they just text again using another number. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!


Posted by:

RichF
30 Mar 2017

Bob, ever feel like your warnings go unheeded with the rise in hackings, scammers, and phfishning? Probably have to beat the people over the head constantly until they recognize the problems online and follow the 'safety rules' you keep spreading.


Posted by:

Joel Bergmann
30 Mar 2017

Linda, Take some consolation you are not alone. I have been getting at least 2 or 3 such messages every week for at least the past year! I now also receive about 10 "missed calls" weekly from numbers I never recognize. I used to keep my little flip phone on all the time. But I got tired of listening to it ring every few hours... Now it resides in my pocket, and when I need it I start it up, wait for it to sync to the local tower, make my call, then shut it off. "The spoilers" have managed to ruin another benefit of modern living for me!


Posted by:

Fred
30 Mar 2017

I think apple has it as well, so go to google play and download an app called Hiya...great for spam calls and texts and it's free.


Posted by:

Dwayne Hunt
30 Mar 2017

When you recognize that there is no obvious result from forwarding spam to the "authorities", it makes you pay next to no attention to warnings about the evil trolls that hide under the Google bridge. Yes, we use antivirus code, free or fee, but it often alerts us to horrid things that turn out to be your PDF download from your church worship center that is completely harmless. Then, Mr. Bob, what the heck are we supposed to do? Maybe run all things good in a virtual sandbox for protection!!!!


Posted by:

KD
30 Mar 2017

Bob,
I have Windows Assure. I also use paid versions of Bitdefender and Malwarebytes for security on Win10pro with Windows Defender turned off. MS Assure advises me to get rid of Bitdefender & Malwarebytes and use only MS Defender for protection. I'm not sure what to do? Please clarify these positions.
Thanks for all you do Bob!


Posted by:

Dwayne Hunt
30 Mar 2017

KD, I wanted to say that I read articles all the time that hammer MS Defender for being right next to a endless loop for virus protection. However, I can't say that I know that for a fact. I do know however, that Malwarebytes and Bitdefender do a pretty good job. I have used them on one of my systems. Go to How-to Geek and search MS Defender and read a very good article on MS Defender (and others).


Posted by:

Lee
30 Mar 2017

Internet security is getting worse? My question is simply 'Security? What's that? My only suggestion is----- install Linux. It just works so much better.


Posted by:

HowardL
30 Mar 2017

I've had a good experience with Norton Security. With installation the company promises a firewall and a constantly updated registry of threats, including ransomware.


Posted by:

Orville
31 Mar 2017

The forthcoming congressional "relaxing" of privacy laws is currently big news, with suggestions of using a VPN or Tor to ensure user privacy. I'm wondering if (or to what degree) using one of these will also provide enhanced internet security?

(Anyway, I know nothing about VPN or Tor. These may be good topics to present in the near future....)


Posted by:

Old Man
31 Mar 2017

Orville @ 31 Mar 2017
Using a VPN merely hides things from your ISP and turns it over to the VPN. From what I've read, VPNs are more likely to sell your data than your ISP.
So far I haven't read any effective means to protect your Internet activity from EVERYONE.


Posted by:

Old Man
31 Mar 2017

Regarding ransomware. I like what one firm did. They refused to pay and just scrubbed their servers. Then they restored everything from their backups.

The experts keep saying "backup, backup, backup", but people don't pay attention until AFTER the damage has been done. A good backup, including the OS, can solve pretty much any problem we may encounter: ransomware and other malware, bad installations, total computer crashes (including hardware), and just about anything else that could go wrong.

It might be interesting to know how many times Bob's posted articles about the need to backup.


Posted by:

Bill
31 Mar 2017

Bob, As per your article on how internet security is getting worse, may I add a comment: None, not even Fox News or Breitbart News in whom I place more trust than the rest of the drive-by media, has seemed to address the root cause of this problem. Go back to circa 2014 in the spring where WND News and others wrote an editorial titled, "Obama Hands Control of the Internet to Russia and China." This story was updated later in the fall of 2014. It was then in early 2015 when news stories began to emerge about major companies and our branches of gov't including the White House were being hacked into. And yet today in present time, NOONE is yet to cite this story. I encourage everyone to type in the italicized words I mentioned here in their search engine that this scourge might become more evident. All this is on Obama's shoulders, as he alone owns it, as he created it. What U.S. president in their right mind would even consider such a thing? Take this for what it's worth then draw your own conclusions.


Posted by:

Bob
31 Mar 2017

I guess when you open a blog site it attracts a very broad spectrum from Lee with whom I have discovered the solution to the likes of Bill who leave me with information nightmares.


Posted by:

Fred
31 Mar 2017

As for congress unleashing the ISP's to sell your tracking data, I have read and heard that "Privacy Badger" is supposed to cloak your trips on the internet. Bob, would you please check out this little add-on. I've installed it on the Firefox browser and it seems to be working as claimed. But who knows how long it will take before someone manages to sidestep it.


Posted by:

bb
31 Mar 2017

Fred: "Privacy Badger" does nothing to cloak your trips on the Internet. It's an ad-blocker, nothing more ... or less.
It blocked some of your information from advertisers such as 'tracking cookies,' but nothing is blocked from either your ISP or the sites you visit.
Read the page on the EFF site to learn more.


Posted by:

Granville Alley
31 Mar 2017

Bob,

I believe the Yahoo breaches although they were only disclosed this past year actually occurred a couple of years earlier in 2014. Taking these out of the equation and adding them to previous years would make the growth of attacks less ominous although certainly no less important.


Posted by:

Dave
08 Apr 2017

In one corner, you are still raving on like it was 2005 advising : "Anti-virus protection is your first line of defense"

...whilst in the other, your partner Stu of KnowBeBefore has been continuously saying for all of 2016 and this year : Anti-virus programs are now next to useless for detecting zero-day spam, malware, viral, phishing and attacks.

To whom should we believe any more?


Posted by:

Teresa
10 Apr 2017

I have noticed a huge increase of things I have to ignore and delete on my pc and my phone. I do not answer any calls from anyone calling that is not programmed in my phone by me. If it is important,the caller will leave a message. On my pc, I have several levels of protection. I have avast everything except for my proxy in which I use PIA . I have ad blockers, cookie blockers, and idk I just got it!! These days we must be diligent and use extra precautions online and on the cell.I am forced to lie about my identity on many sites and have to keep track of it in a journal. I dont trust anyone until they prove to me trust worthy!


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