Global Cybersecurity Outlook

Cybersecurity issues remain a pressing concern for businesses in the US. New scams and attacks appear with alarming frequency, allowing few quiet moments for owners and executives aware of the situation. The same holds true for businesses abroad. Examining some trends and news stories with a worldwide lens affords a global security outlook that can benefit small and medium-sized businesses and larger corporations alike. The digital world continues to blur borders, and threat actors know no regional discretion regarding when or who they attack.

Nearly Half of Australia Exposed in Single Breach

In an example of how impactful even a single data breach or cyberattack can be was an incident in Australia involving one of the largest telecommunications companies in that country. Optus was hit with a cyberattack that exposed the personal information of nearly 10 million customers, which equates to around 40% of the Australian population. Initial reports of the incident claim that it originated outside of Australia, with evidence showing a highly sophisticated and coordinated attack. Personal information, including names, dates of birth, and addresses, was exposed alongside more sensitive data, such as passport numbers, putting every exposed individual at significant risk of identity fraud. 

Optus went public with news of the attack shortly after it happened, issuing an apology to those impacted and claiming that the company has always strived to maintain the highest levels of cybersecurity. But an apology doesn’t do much to fix the issue or to clean up the fallout for millions of current and potential victims. The attack continued to develop after being announced, with the hacker involved demanding a ransom and releasing thousands of customer records to raise alarms. 

This incident is one of the largest data breaches in Australian history, and it reveals serious flaws in the security measures taken by Optus. The Australian government has publicly stated that Optus did not have the high-level security measures in place that it claimed to have, and a lawsuit against the company from the victims is more than likely. The data breach also highlights issues with the state of cybersecurity and related regulations in Australia, showing that the country appears well behind other nations in its approach to such matters. 

Hopefully, the backlash from the public and government will lead to positive changes in how large corporations gather, store, and attempt to protect personal data. Until then, this is another example of how a false sense of security on the part of a large company directly leads to ongoing adverse issues with its business operations and to eroded consumer trust. 

UK Town Sets Goals for Stand-Out Cybersecurity

To raise awareness about the topic of cyberattacks and to spread information on how to better prepare and defend against them, the town of Scarborough in the UK has recently become a pilot project. The town has secured around £237,000 ($272,000) in funding through local resources to help achieve the goal of becoming “a national centre of excellence for cyber security.” 

Local officials aim to establish this ambitious status by the spring of 2023, and efforts are being spearheaded by several different organizations, including Coventry University Scarborough, Government Communications Headquarters, and Anglo-American Mining. Part of the plan involves hands-on engagement with over 100 organizations and individuals in Scarborough to help develop adequate training and to improve understanding of cybersecurity-related matters. Other goals of this outreach are to help encourage small and medium-sized businesses to establish effective security measures and to provide “new and in-demand cyber security skills.” 

This grassroots and publicly funded project is certainly encouraging news as it displays increasing public awareness of security-related issues. It also demonstrates a creative approach to education and training, which are essential to establishing effective cybersecurity measures for businesses and in individuals’ daily actions alike. If the project goes over well, it could lead to similar programs in the UK and beyond.

Chinese Influence Operations Show Social Media Threats

Politics and cybersecurity issues continue to influence one another, and the upcoming mid-term elections serve as a good case study for this. Reports of fake news and general meddling have been in the news for years, but a recent situation involving fake Facebook and Instagram accounts created by Chinese and Russian operatives put things in the spotlight once again. 

Meta, the parent company of both these social media behemoths, said it removed a number of phony accounts in recent months that originated in China. The accounts were set up to focus on prevalent topics or US officials and politicians and ran on both sides of the political spectrum. This wasn’t a huge shutdown, with only around 100 accounts and several Facebook pages discovered and ultimately removed. But it demonstrates the continued effort by Meta to at least attempt to slow the spread of misinformation related to fake accounts. 

Foreign influence and infiltration of the platforms of big tech companies is a lingering issue that presents security concerns for many US citizens and businesses. It also highlights how even smaller influence operations can sound alarms and potentially impact public perception. It’s difficult to say whether this example was a Chinese attempt to sow widespread discord within American circles or simply to stir the pot and see how far the operations could get before being found out and shut down. Fake accounts, and the potential for misinformation that those can spread, should continue to be a hot-button topic as tech giants work to develop improved cybersecurity measures worldwide. 

Ongoing Global Concerns

Cybersecurity is a global concern, and any business anywhere can be impacted by its many related issues. Data breaches, ransomware incidents, and other hacks and attacks have become so common that they can often be brushed over in place of other headlines such as those related to inflation or politics. But cyber risks pose just as big a threat to global security and economic stability as do these other issues and need to be treated as such. Increased understanding and education are steps in the right direction, and business owners of all kinds need to do their part in spreading cyber-awareness for the benefit of all.

LibertyID provides full-service, fully-managed identity fraud restoration to its subscribers. With a 100% success rate in resolving all 31+ forms of identity fraud. LibertyID Business Solutions provides Business fraud remediation, full pre-breach preparation with custom WISP protocols, post-breach regulatory response, customer, and employee identity fraud restoration management, advanced employee training, and third-party vendor management tools.