The answer is that it depends whose side you are on. If you are being attacked malware is malware. The thousands of companies that are being targeted by the CryptoLocker ransomware attacks will be in no doubt. These are clever, if evil. Drawn into a malware site, a virus locks your systems and demands a bitcoin in return. It even displays a big red screen with a counter running backwards. A police department in Massachusetts paid the ransom.
Take the NSA.
They have, reportedly and probably for safety’s sake, allegedly, popped malware into over 50,000 computer networks around the world. That is a lot of people to be watching. There is even a slide doing the rounds that shows where these systems are. This malware can be switched on and off by the NSA’s team which is called the Tailored Access Team. The justification is security.
The UK’s own GCHQ, in a rather un-British move, recently targeted Belgacom engineers in a ploy that involved a fake LinkedIn page. They went, they looked, they were infected – and watched.
There is no doubt that because the answer depends on whose side you are on, we are at war. On several fronts. Whatever you think about the activities of our security agencies, we are up against clever, calculating characters that we are trying to beat and recruit at the same time. And they are always one step ahead.
Add this threat to extreme hacks such as the recent Adobe hack, that stole the passwords of over a hundred million people and is having knock on effects for social media sites. And wholesale fraud that is worth $6 billion a year and the picture is pretty bleak.
As individuals we are constantly either in fear of our passwords being stolen or constantly trying to remember them all. That is, if we are sensible and do not have the same password for all our accounts. Cloud based password vaults such as my1login are excellent solutions, but we need to think about a solution to the bigger problem.
The solution lies in the strength of a community. And the model should be social. If one company suffers an attack, then immediately the whole community needs to know. Forums such as the GSMA’s Fraud Forum are excellent but the sad fact is that almost 75 percent of telcos are not even members of such groups. If attacks are to be minimized – and successful only once, if at all, because of the social model – then such forums should be essential.
And given the amount of information that passes through the billing department, there should be a pro-active billing focus too.