The word ‘security’ embodies various significances when it comes to the corporate environment. For many years, the first thought that came to mind was about having a security guard to look after the safety of your employees and of those interacting with your business. However, in today’s technology-driven times, cyber security has become as necessary as physical security, with data breach threats creating outcomes ranging from a temporary shutdown of activity to brand alienation or even bankruptcy.
A company’s overall security plans and implemented solutions need to be drafted based on a comprehensive range of needs, goals, objectives, and possible threats. If in the past stories of cyber security made the plot of good science fiction films, nowadays the reality has long overcome what we see on the big screen, putting the corporate world at risk for all kinds of attacks originating from a network vulnerability which can even lead to endangering the safety of employees, customers, or anyone in the vicinity of your headquarters.
The past two years have made it nearly impossible for businesses to feel safe, with cyber-attacks happening globally, at a worrisome rate, making of crucial importance for businesses no matter size or sector to have professional IT teams in place. Physical attacks and security threats are also increasing alarmingly, with the world being more and more on edge in terms of social injustice, violence, and overall crime.
Let’s take a look at some of the most frightening security stories to keep you up at night and make you look twice over your security strategies and crisis communications.
Shooting at YouTube California Headquarters
In April 2018, a female shooter walked into the Californian headquarters of YouTube and started firing at employees, wounding three people. Early police reports stated that the shooter accessed the location through a parking lot, and was trying to shoot her boyfriend, declaring that she did not know any of the victims. In the following days, the fact that the shooter had a grudge against YouTube policies was mentioned as the motive of the attack, based on statements of family members, and online posts made by the attacker previously to her actions.
Modern-day headquarters, especially those of companies from Silicon Valley or of companies sharing their open-space vision, are designed to look like campus universities, with vast green spaces, and area in which employees can mingle with tourists. Yet such open spaces are oftentimes difficult to secure. Google employees have declared under anonymity that there is no barrier between the public and themselves, which sometimes makes them worry about their safety. After 9/11 and the increase in mass shootings, some companies have started to instruct their personnel in case of crisis or emergencies, yet the level of awareness and preparedness is still at a critical low. Regardless of how your headquarters is designed, what your activity, size, or structure is, you need to be prepared in case of a situation like this, from preventive security measures to crisis communication and first responders.
Bioterrorism Threats such as the Anthrax Attacks
In 2001, one week after the 9/11 attacks, letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several media news outlets and two democratic senators. Five people were killed and seventeen others were infected, leading to one of the biggest investigations in the history of the FBI which only concluded in 2011, although its findings did not bring a lot of peace to the parties involved, nor to people and companies worried about the still persistent threat of bioterrorism.
Unlike an active shooter situation, or one in which security officers can take measures for safeguarding employees and the premises, a biochemical attack is increasingly harder to prevent or improving response in case prevention fails. Biological weapons are an increasing worldwide concern, given the fact that the technology involved in developing them is inexpensive and easy to obtain as it is similar to that utilized in facilities where vaccines are produced. Instructing your security personnel on biochemical hazard can make the difference between life and death, if the time comes.
The Equifax Data Breach of 2017
Equifax, one of the largest credit bureaus in the world, had its systems breached by cybercriminals in July of 2017, resulting in the stealing of personal data of more than 145 million people. With said data including social security numbers, this is now considered to be one of the biggest data breaches in the history of the world. Other personal data such as addresses, dates of birth, or public records were involved in the hack, and with the company only making the situation public two months after it happened, there is yet no telling as to what could happen in the future with those data, but a lot of people are fearing cases of identity theft.
If you are a company gathering and working with personal data, the emphasis you must put on cyber security and business continuity is of critical importance not only to the growth of your business but particularly to keeping your customers safe and unexposed to threats such as the ones faced by the people who have had their data stolen as in the case of Equifax and other companies going through the same situation.
The WannaCry Ransomware and Its Implications
WannaCry is a ransomware that targeted more than 150 countries and leveraged leaked NSA hacking tools. This works by locking down the files of the computer that was infected, and asking the owner to pay in order to have them unlocked. The major problem with this ransomware and the swiftness with which it spread came from the fact that a lot of affected companies were using poorly or dated security solutions. And even when Microsoft released the patches to fix the security breach created by leaking of the NSA hacking tools, most companies did not immediately install them. The ransomware hit across a wide range of industries, from health care, academia, governmental facilities, to aerospace technology, telecommunications, the oil industry, or the car manufacturing industry – with many others in-between. The ransomware has since its appearance been linked to North Korea.
The Cloudflare 2017 Platform Bug
Cyber security threats are not always related to a hack. Sometimes, an internal bug or error can end up becoming a major security problem, as was the case in 2017 with Cloudflare and their platform bug that caused leakage of sensitive customer data from millions of websites. The internet infrastructure company’s bug was made public on February but it was believed that it could have been lead to the leaking of user data as early as September 2016. With six million customers, managing data such as Uber records, Fitbit history, or dating website information, and a bug leaking information such as API keys, login credentials, cookies, and other related information, the real impact and damage were hard to estimate.
When it comes to protecting your solutions, software, and the work your company is conducting via digital sources, there are strategies and internal communications plans which need to be drafted and implemented not only based on goals and objectives, but also on up-to-date technologies.
These 6 frightening security stories to keep you up at night, ranging from active shooter situations, bioterrorism, stolen data, ransomware, to internal platform bugs are providing companies worldwide with lessons on how to conduct their business and how to improve and increase their security strategies, but also their responses in case prevention fails.