Cyber threats escalating with technology growth

Gillian Daley/Contributing Writer

With the rate technology is moving, the threat of cyber-attacks will continue to escalate, officials said, with the latest Google Docs phishing attack just one example of the ongoing battle.

“We’re going to start to see the potential for escalation on the amount of vulnerabilities that individuals are going  be exposed to. . .If you look at tech it’s moving at a very fast rate but technology’s just exploding in the past few years, it’s mushrooming,” Alexander Perez-Pons, a professor from the Electronics and Computer Engineering department said. “The thought that has to come is how much security is there. . .With security you don’t really get a second chance.”

Reports from indicate that 2016, while a tumultuous year for cyber security in general, broke records for it’s high amount of phishing scams. The report also stated that there was an overall 40 percent leap in cyber crime for that year.

And back in May of this year, one of the most extensive and elaborate phishing attacks of the year targeted the users of Google’s popular application, Google Docs and mainly affected journalists, media personnel and teachers, according to, and was unlike other phishing scams. The hacker’s bug disguised itself as the Google Docs application in order to commandeer total access to the victim’s Gmail account and compromised nearly one million account holders, according to CNN.

These extensive attacks, Perez-Pons said,  are a sign of the disparity between technological growth and cyber-security.

“There’s a race,” he said. “With all these companies, there’s a race to produce new technology to come to market and sometimes, when you’re racing so quickly, you might compromise certain things [security measures]. That’s one of the biggest fears.”  

Forbes reports that as technological advances continue to increase, cyber security will become one of the most pressing matters of 2017 and according to NBC, university students and professors are more at-risk targets of malicious hacking because of the plethora of personal information kept in university archives.

From 2006 to the year 2013, over 550 universities reported being majorly compromised, with the education sector being listed as the third sector most affected by cyber-crime in Symantec’s 2014 Internet Security Threat Report.

Timeline created by Nicole Malanga/PantherNOW

But Sundaraja Sitharama Iyengar, the director of the School of Computing, said there are ways students can limit their cyber vulnerability, such as keeping their passwords safe.

“Nowadays a student has his laptop, he does not keep his password very protected and you need to be very careful. . . Students should be very aware of keeping their passwords very protected because some of these people who want to hack, want to know your passwords,” Iyengar said.

Identity theft is the most common type of cyber-crime, with the Identity Theft Resources Center having reported over 1,000 identity theft cases in the past year alone, but besides securing your passwords, another way to keep yourself safe from identity theft, illegal malware installment, phishing scams, rogue software and other cyber-crimes, according to Iyengar, is to be more secretive of what systems you use.

“ Do not talk much about the kinds of systems that you use. . . if they can hack into your system, they can know the entire history of you,” he said.

Students should also be mindful about where they are and what they are doing, he said. When using public libraries, he said, keep in mind that public computers are more susceptible to becoming compromised and try not to enter any personal information or log into any professional accounts while on them.  

You should also delete your history and log out of your accounts when you’ve finished so that the next person who goes onto the computer can’t have access to your data.  Students in particular, he said, should also pay close attention when browsing for and installing apps or opening unexpected emails.

And in the event that you do fall prey to a cyber-attack, you should let all your contacts know you’ve been compromised, freeze your bank accounts (if the crime involved credit card theft), reboot your operating system and stay calm.


Image retrieved from Flickr.


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