Mikko Hyppönen is a global security expert and the resident Chief Research Officer at F-Secure. He is also the keynote speaker at the upcoming ITWeb Security Summit in Johannesburg on 22nd May. Mikko’s insight on how we can stop new viruses from threatening our online safety is different from the rest. His ability to make complex technical concepts easy to understand, separating fact from hearsay, and his detailed storytelling earn him the title of being the most influential worldwide authority on computer security.
According to Mikko, there are three types of online attacks. These attacks would be that from malicious hackers, hackers who are referred to as “hacktivists” who protest or rebel against the system, and surprisingly enough, your own government. Going through this list might not invoke a sense of worry, but don’t be fooled.
- Malicious Hackers
Financial gain is what motivates hackers most often. Hackers, like anyone motivated by money, want the most amount of return they can get for the amount of effort they put in. One would think that a small business is not at risk to such attacks, but this is not true.
Targeting small businesses or industries that have lax security rules can result in a successful attack without much work for the hacker. In fact, it can be more lucrative for a hacker to target multiple small businesses than to target a larger company such as a bank, given the difference in security measures for these two types of companies.
The fight for freedom of expression, the defence of human rights, the total unwillingness to any form of surveillance and control, and the reporting of abuse by regimes are the main arguments that motivate groups of hacktivists to action.
Extracting files and giving them to WikiLeaks does hurt governments. However, putting user names and passwords on a pastebin doesn’t affect governments, but posting this kind of information about the people they claim to fight for is just wrong.
- Government organisations
When it comes to protecting sensitive data, government agencies store highly sensitive data that could be lucrative in the hands of criminals. It’s hard to know how long law enforcement agencies have been hacking citizens as part of their investigations and even harder to know exactly what tools they’ve been using. But they are definitely using them.
One could argue that hacking can be used for good. But with that, comes another set of risks. If hacking is used for ethical reasons, it will definitely be used for criminal reasons too. Our privacy is a human right that should not be ignored with the progress that has been made in recent times. As said by Mikko: “It is not a question between privacy versus security, but rather freedom versus control”.