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Weather the New-Age War or Destruct

Data is the New Oil

– Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Offider of F-Secure Corporation –

 Mr. Mikko Hypponen made this pronouncement at the recently concluded Anti-Virus Asia researchers (AVAR) 2016 conference in Kuala Lumpur. But he is not the first to make this observation. This idea-turned-reality has been bandied about in recent years.

Like a double-edged sword, the seemingly innocuous data, its collection, use and misuse, have reached a frenzied pace, beyond the control of the very masters that created them. “Just like oil brings prosperity and problems…. data brings prosperity and problems. With oil, we actually worry about oil leaks. With data, well, we have to worry about data leaks,” emphasised Hypponen.

From dating to social media sites, from healthcare to financial institutions, from consumers to government, none has been left unscathed in the aftermath of data leaks and data hacks in the last one year alone. Data becomes the bargaining chip in ransomware and malware cases.

“We are only seeing the beginning of this. We haven’t seen nothing yet. Governments are not just interested in defense ….but offense. Just like the last 60 years were mired in a big arms race, the next 60 years will be enmeshed in a cyber-arms race”. Well, the jury is still out there if the US Elections were indeed influenced by the Democratic National Committee email hack by “state-sponsored actors”.

“The threat of malware has been ever-present but today, we are facing unprecedented sophistication in not only development but also deployment. Our capability to protect and respond has been growing as well, but there is an even greater need for awareness on the consumer side, taking into consideration borderless trade and digital transactions,” said Hypponen.

Over the past years, exploits and exploit kits continue to trend with threats facing people and companies in Europe and North America. Today these threats not only have spread to Asia and other regions but have continued to expand their capabilities and evolve into a variety of attack vectors,” he added.

Think IoT devices. As an example, everytime your IoT-enabled washing machine texts you when your clothes are ready to dry, or when you remotely checks the water level left in your IoT coffee maker…. are you opening up a vector for attack? Data of your usage patterns, location and consumer details are all captured and accessible to the manufacturer and potential cybercriminals …. are you nervous now? Shouldn’t you wait for the manufacturers of these IoT devices to first embed security and privacy protection before you rush to buy the next “hot” thing?

Your IT department can protect and resolve technical bugs in your IT hardware and software, but your own brazen user ignorance and negligence…. well, these are hard to fix! What more if you are high-profile Mark Zuckerberg, who chose to use a weak password and… recycled the same password across multiple sites. His password was easily hacked into in June 2016.

Your IT department can protect and resolve technical bugs in your IT hardware and software, but your own brazen user ignorance and negligence…. well, these are hard to fix! What more if you are high-profile Mark Zuckerberg, who chose to use a weak password and… recycled the same password across multiple sites. His password was easily hacked into in June 2016.

F-Secure, which played host at the AVAR 2016 conference, has played a crucial role in demonstrating that security today has gone beyond simple malicious codes and has entered the realm of geopolitical conflict. One case is that of the NanHaiShu Malware which accessed information from high-profile targets involved in the South China Sea dispute. F-Secure has also played an active role in waging war against malicious software in the Cloud, in order to help companies secure shared content.

AVAR is a non-profit organization which has the primary objective of preventing the spread of and the damage caused by malicious codes. AVAR now comprises members from 17 territories within the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.




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