What does Friday’s DDoS attack mean to cyber security?

Oct 28, 2016

If you were on the internet last Friday, then you probably experienced issues trying to browse popular websites including Amazon, Netflix, Twitter, CNN, The New York Times, Pinterest, PayPal, Spotify and more.

All were affected by a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that utilized a botnet made up of smart TVs, DVRs and webcams to carry out its mission: to target Dyn, one of the big internet infrastructure companies that run the web’s domain name system (DNS). By flooding Dyn with malicious attacks from millions of IP addresses, it caused the system to stop responding.

This attack highlights just how critical cyber security is in our increasingly connected world. And with the number of connected devices estimated to reach 75 billion by 2020, the risks will only increase. Yet the results of a survey conducted jointly by NYSE Governance Services and security vendor Veracode2 revealed that security ranked second to last in priority when developing new products and services. So consumers and businesses alike need to be aware of risks and take the necessary steps to protect data and systems.

As users of these devices, we need to make smart, educated security decisions. Aside from the basics we all know but only sometimes follow (keep software up-to-date, create unique passwords and update regularly, log out from shared devices and sites that you enter financial information into), consumers need to weigh risks carefully. Is the convenience or thrill of technology worth the risk of your data being compromised or not being able to access something when an attack happens?  Always understand what data is being collected, stored and shared before you opt-in.

Jim Ambrosini, Managing Director of CohnReznick Advisory Group says “Today’s companies need to fully perform an adequate risk assessment, or scale their cyber program to meet the current threat environment.” Jim advises companies to take cyber security seriously, starting with these 5 questions:

  • When did you perform your last cyber security assessment, and what did it cover?
  • Have you identified critical data, and do we know where it resides?
  • How would you recognize if a breach occurred?
  • Have you assessed internal and external vulnerabilities?
  • Does your security program and polices match your risk profile and tolerance?

Key Take-away for Marketers:

As marketers, we have an important role in cyber security. In today’s connected world, we need to work closely with our partners in IT. Together, we need to share the ownership of cyber security strategies and solutions. We also need to have a plan for dealing with public attention of a breach, or pre-emptively sharing any news with the public. Have a plan to communicate clearly and consistently. When you have a problem that affects your customers directly, you need to take the right steps to protect the trust that you earned.


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