Our digital culture faces a staggering crisis from attackers able to gain entry into virtually any information systems with alarming ease, which threatens our security and ability to conduct business. A team of researchers that I led at Washington State University Vancouver are trying to find solutions, and want to enlist the support of the Vancouver business community to participate in our efforts.
To put the problem into perspective, Microsoft estimates the annual cost of identity theft alone is $5-6 billion. The FBI reports that ransomware losses, where hackers encrypt data then demands payment for its decryption, exceeded $18M last year. Sadly, most business IT professionals do not believe their organization can adequately prevent cyber-attacks, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute.
While there are many contributing factors to this crisis, it is widely believed that the individual user is the biggest chink in the security armor. Having the best IT systems and security experts won’t stop a cyber-attack when users are careless with their passwords, leave their smart phone unlocked, or engage in other behaviors that place information systems at risk.