Biggest Cyber Attack in History. Cybersecurity Pioneer Narus Asks: “Are You Safe?”

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It’s funny how things work. Earlier this week I was interviewing the team at Narus. The company, an independent subsidiary of Boeing and more about digital, less about massive bodies of steel,  is a pioneer in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity, the practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from attack or damage.

Narus-logo-socialmarketingfellaI was asking the company’s president, John Trobough, “As a consumer, why should I care?” I mean, these big companies have money to throw at this kind of stuff, so I’m sure they’ve figured it out. Besides, what do I care if some chicken nugget-producing enterprise gets hacked? Or if some big bucks mobile company has a security breech when a clever employee outsources his work and watches cat videos instead? Some of those videos are pretty good.

The very next day the world sustained what many touted as being the “biggest cyber attack in history.”

It was, if fact, big. Mashable writes, “Kaspersky Labs, a leading security research group, called it ‘one of the largest DDoS operations to date.'” It’s origins were a conflict between Spamhaus, a European organization that keeps tabs on spammers and Cyberbunker, a Dutch hosting company accused of housing them. In the end, the attack severely affected the websites it was targeted at, and many Internet users in Europe and North America found the Internet suddenly slowed or ground to a halt.

On the whole, though, the global Internet as a whole was not impacted to the expected extent. You see, it’s not necessarily a “massive,” global cyber attack that we, as individuals should be concerned about. It’s the potential smaller, personal ones. As a 2012 Norton Cybercrime report outlines, these consumer attacks are costing us.

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“We are living in an interconnected world where lines are being blurred, from the personal to the digital,” Narus’ Trobough explains. “As consumers, we expect the same level of security in our digital world we’ve always had in our physical world.”

In fact, the guarantees aren’t the same.

A recent Financial Times article points to a new study that suggests automobiles could one day become the victim of cyber attacks that compromise electronic systems and endanger passenger safety. Cars already contain a huge amount of electronics controlled by thousands of lines of code, and mobile phones, internet access, Bluetooth connections all open doors for hackers. The risk to consumers is more than compromised performance or someone stealing your Twitter account; a cyber attack on a car could result in the loss of life.

“Our increased use of computer systems with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or similar technologies to control certain aspects of a car makes us more vulnerable than ever before,” Trobough warns. One of the hottest automobiles here in Silicon Valley and in trade magazines is the all-electric Tesla. I had a look at it, and interestingly, that car is maintained, in part, but a regular software update via wifi. So the same network streaming your Family Guy reruns is also telling your Tesla what to do.

It’s not too far fetched that such an arrangement could allow an attacker to deactivate brake systems, send fake warning signals to a driver, or compromise other key vehicle components. “That could really ruin someone’s morning commute,” I told Trobough in jest. But really, it’s deeper than that. Some critics cite the possibility of terrorist attacks, where groups of cars on a freeway could be programmed to lose their breaks or suffer ignition shut-offs and crash due to malicious software infecting the system.

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Cyber 3.0

Trobough and his team are at the forefront of bringing both awareness, and solutions to this new “virtual reality” we live in. The Narus family of products is based on the principles of Cyber 3.0, which harnesses the semantic web for automated, continuous machine learning to build solutions to security threats. The company’s team of global academics, technologists, and researchers hold 59 patents.

It used to be that a thief would have to break into a building to steal or destroy something. It’s just not that way anymore. The greater Narus’ advances industry awareness and solutions to this new-world threat, the greater ripples we’ll feel on the consumer end. And Trobough’s underlying point is that corporate and consumer awareness of cybercrime risk must both grow.

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Before leaving office, former Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta told Time Magazine that Americans tend to wait for a crisis before acting. “The reverberations of this [recent] attack were felt globally,” Trobough says decidedly. “Institutions of all sizes need to better gauge and protect themselves against cyber vulnerabilities by leveraging machine learning solutions to stay ahead of the attackers.”

To Panetta’s point,in this new physical-digital hybrid world we now live in, companies like Narus are clearly demonstrating that we can’t afford to be reactionary.

One comment on “Biggest Cyber Attack in History. Cybersecurity Pioneer Narus Asks: “Are You Safe?””

  1. Jeanne

    What are the ods that my site will be hacked?

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Andre Bourque (SocialMarketingFella) is Editor Emeritus of Technorati.

He covers emerging trends and news in social, mobile, cloud, and related technologies.

Based in San Francisco, he can be contacted via his social channels and at: andrefbourque@gmail.com

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