Department of Computer Information Systems and Business Analytics
August 15, 2016
DNC Hack Sheds Light On Pervasive Threat
The latest victim of a massive, large-scale data breach hppens to be the Democratic National Convention (DNC) who was targeted at the pinnacle of the year-long race for Democratic presidential nominee. It’s suspected that Russian hackers, either government-affiliated or otherwise, penetrated the DNC network last Fall and have had access to the DNC’s private files and emails until as recently of June this year. The reasoning behind such an attack has been unclear, but suggested motive was to hinder both Democratic campaigns (Bernie Sanders + Hillary Clinton) before moving forward with a single Democratic nominee.
Emails with deliberate partisan support in favor of naming HIllary Clinton as the Democratic nominee for the 2016 Presidential Election were leaked the night before the convention’s commencement. This divisive tactic spurred a deluge of national criticism and sent the party into turmoil, as Bernie Sanders supporters voiced their disapproval, condemning the Democratic part and DNC senior officials specifically, including the DNC’s chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
The magnitude of the attack is said to have measured nearly 20,000 DNC-related emails, including 8,000+ email attachments from seven of the DNC’s top staff members. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, being one of the seven staff members targeted by the breach, recently announced her resignation from the DNC as chairwoman after taking the brunt of both the media and public’s backlash and rancorous criticism.
While political, moral, and ethical issues exist because of this breach of information, let’s not get too distracted from the real issue here. It’s not the controversy surrounding the nature of the emails, but rather the mounting cyber force that businesses and organizations seem to be dealing with on a daily basis.
Regardless if the breach was organized by a group Russian hackers or not, the systematic effort to undermine the Democratic National Convention proves that there is a more serious deficiency involving national security and private security (or the lack thereof) that organizations, businesses, and individuals alike are failing to see.
The lack of cyber protection that our most coveted, venerable organizations and businesses in the country have adopted is the very subject that needs to be put under the microscope, slapped across the tabloids, and debated on national television.
…Beyond The DNC Hack
When a cyber attack or data breach of this breadth compromises a government-related body or system, only one question comes to mind: If the US government is affected by a significant foreign cyber attack, is anyone safe?
The answer isn’t an easy one to swallow, nor is it as cut and dry as most would think.
No file, email, piece of self-identifying information, credit card number, social security number, etc. is safe as long as it exists on the internet. All data remains at risk; this isn’t easing any nerves or anxiety, it’s simply the truth. But, all hope is not lost, as there are certain precautions, strategies, and measures that can be taken in advance to help ensure that all sensitive information remains secure at all times.
Cybersecurity firms and organizations exist for one reason and for one reason alone… to prevent outside parties from accessing private, sensitive data. While it’s not every day that an attack as sizable as the Russian effort against the DNC takes place, protecting your confidential information in anticipation of such an event should be priority number one.
Whether it’s using a secure email solution to protect yourself while sending sensitive information across email, integrating standard website security (SSL certificates), or taking on a large-scale data loss prevention & threat protection, you need to find the solution that best suits your needs.
Cyber attacks, hacks, and data breaches have become the most popular and most convenient way for thieves to steal important documents and credit card & social security numbers. Thieves also use phishing techniques to plant malware on computers to steal specific pieces of information that allow them to do a variety of nefarious things. Some of these tactics include holding computers for ransom and creating fraudulent impostor accounts to direct & re-direct payments to private bank accounts.
Be vigilant, cautious, and careful when operating with sensitive information on the internet. Always double-check the sources requesting personal information, make sure all websites asking for personal information or payment are secure (look for –> https in the URL), and use an encrypted solution when sending and receiving sensitive information across email.
Email protection is not only necessary for meeting federal compliance requirements, but it’s also important to use when communicating about any sensitive topics or issues that you’d never want cast in the limelight. For instance, take the 20,000 DNC emails that were leaked to WikiLeaks, these are conversations — regardless of their ethical nature — that should’ve only taken place behind an encrypted solution. If these conversations had been encrypted & protected by a secure email solution, there is a much greater chance that the Russian hackers would not have been able to access them.
Your business, your personal files, and your clients are only as safe as you allow them to be. Ensure their protection by using some sort of cyber security solution, because honestly, if it can happen to the Democratic National Convention, it can happen to anyone.
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