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Cybersecurity can be translated as the protection of data and networks from attackers. In other words, it’s the security of our data, privacy, and safety when we’re online. At this point, tools like antivirus are a must for all devices. To recognize and prevent the attacks that hackers and security crackers would like to do, we must innovate and stay updated.
The most renowned organizations in this field are Anonymous, which has been attacking organizations such as WikiLeaks or Sony Pictures Entertainment for years. These attacks have given us lessons to learn about how to protect ourselves in these modern times where we use digital devices every day to connect with others without thinking that there could be someone listening. In this article, we will share some of the lessons we can learn from Anonymous’ attacks.
Did You Know?
Anonymous has been in the news several times for having hacked large companies and governments. One of its most popular attacks was the leaking of secret information from U.S. Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida, which includes several thousand military people and intelligence analysts that work in 32 countries around the world.
The Anonymous organization has attacked different high-level figures like Julian Assange or Barack Obama and websites such as Amazon, PayPal, and Visa.
Despite what many think about the Anonymous organization, it was created with noble principles: “We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not Forgive.”
Today, many people use the term “hacking” in a broader sense to include information security, computer technologies, and even law enforcement investigations. However, we will stick to what hacking refers to in this article: breaking into computer networks and gaining unauthorized access by breaking into computers – or systems -to access sensitive data that can be used for malicious purposes.
Hacking is very similar to the concept of crime and the law. Still, the main difference is that hackers are usually interested in information instead of money, making it often hard for them to be caught by police.
In the world of information security, there are two types of attacks:
- External – when a hacker gets into a computer from the outside, such as through social engineering, gaining access through public Internet networks, or even using authorized network connections.
- Internal – when an employee has weak security controls and allows unauthorized people to access sensitive data through their computer.
Currently, Anonymous is focusing on external attacks, but there are also internal cases where members of the Anonymous organization have committed illegal activities to gain unauthorized access to sensitive data, taking advantage of their privileged relationship with the organization.
Lessons From Anonymous
The Anonymous organization is not a gang but a network of individuals motivated by the same ideals and willing to collaborate. They are not affiliated with each other, and there is no leader, but they still have some goals in common. In general, every hacker wants him- or herself to be well known or aspired to as a talented hacker. The best hackers have the most exploits or “hacks” that they are responsible for having discovered and disclosed.
- Anonymous organization hackers seem particularly proud of their skills and often use those exploits to gain unauthorized access to other systems.
- Some hackers are motivated by the desire to prove their hacker skills or merely looking for fame and attention. This type of attack by Anonymous is not based on money, but in this case, fame is the compensation.
- In other cases, companies have been attacked multiple times by hackers wanting to achieve fame and recognition, making it easier for Anonymous members to use their exploits and gain unauthorized access.
- It’s important to understand that Anonymous members would never admit to making these attacks because they would be expelled from the group or outed on the internet.
- Websites are very vulnerable because most of them use the same password to access the administrative panel and log in as regular users.
- Anonymous hackers don’t think twice before attacking a website, but after gaining unauthorized access, they upload their banner and make a statement on behalf of the Anonymous organization. Many hackers have this false sense of impunity that they won’t be caught, or they will remain anonymous while doing something as serious as taking down a company’s website.
- It would be wise to remember that every computer connected to the network can be attacked, which means there is always an opportunity for criminals to take advantage of any security hole.
Anonymous has shown that companies and governments must pay attention to securing their information systems. If not, unforeseen consequences could cost an organization more than what it was willing to invest in information security.
How Can Organizations Protect Themselves?
Have An Information Security Policy
An information security policy will help employees understand what they are expected to do relating to the security measures within the organization.
The following are a few basics recommendations:
- Remember that there is an online presence because you need to inform the public and ensure that your website is secure. Don’t apply a password with “123456” or use the same password to access your computer and your webmail account – that would be asking for trouble!
- Use strong passwords – there are many tools available to generate passwords, but you shouldn’t rely on them blindly. Make sure that you have a backup password!
- Don’t use identical passwords for different accounts – this is one of the most straightforward rules and should be practiced by every user.
Use ID And Access Management Systems
An ID management system will help organizations identify who might be accessing sensitive data while knowing what each user is doing. This is a valuable tool that can allow organizations to detect unauthorized access and protect data since it will see if a person is accessing sensitive information without authorization, even when using different computers or IP addresses. An access management system effectively determines who is accessing what, how often, and how long.
Some organizations are opting for biometrics to help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access by implementing fingerprints, but many companies are still using traditional identification methods.
Also, make sure that you don’t leave any personal information in your account. It won’t be vulnerable to anyone with whom there could be an opportunity to steal data or impersonation.
For example, use a password manager like Lastpass and your webmail services providers like Google or Yahoo!. You should also make sure that this password is encrypted so that it won’t be vulnerable to hackers.
It has become apparent that some companies consider the Internet a free-for-all where they can do whatever they want. They don’t take security seriously and are making the Internet vulnerable, contrary to what it was built for.
Anonymous hackers have shown us that information security is not a luxury, but it’s a necessity that we must invest in to protect ourselves from cyber-attacks. Some of the recommendations above may seem simple, but if you practice them, you will see that it plays a vital role in protecting your information system and important data.