Global access can also mean global cyber crime

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zade C. Vadnais
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which has become increasingly important in recent years as global Internet use continues to grow exponentially.

It is estimated that about eight new users access the Internet every minute as technology spreads to developing countries. On average, there are one million victims of cyber-crime across the globe every day, and most of them are new Internet users who could have avoided the attack if they were more educated on cyber security.

"The goal of cyber awareness month is to take steps to make sure you are not one of those victims in your professional network life and your home network life," said 2nd Lt. Kristoff Kalau, 18th Communications Squadron officer in charge of cyberspace support systems.

According to Kalau, the most common and easily detected cyber-crime is phishing. Phishing is a malicious attempt by hackers to acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, through electronic media. Hackers often pretend to represent a bank or other trusted source in order to lure victims into disclosing information the hacker can then use to access their finances.

Kalau said the most common indicator of a phishing email is spelling and grammatical errors, which would likely not be found in an official email from a reputable organization to its customers. Unreasonable time limits are common as well, as hackers often try to panic users into disclosing sensitive information by claiming their credit card will be deactivated or their credit score will be negatively impacted if they do not act immediately.

Users who suspect they have received a phishing email in their work inbox should take action immediately to ensure the incident is logged and the threat can be monitored. The squadron-level information assurance officer can take the information from the email and forward it to the wing IAO, who will compile base-wide statistics and determine what action needs to be taken.

"It is purported that this is a $113 billion industry across the globe," Kalau said. "It's very serious because it can attack your personal finances, your work relationships, destroy your personal life, cause embarrassment; things that ultimately make you less capable of performing your job."

Although an estimated $38 million in damages was caused by cyber-crime in the U.S. alone last year, hackers generally pick up low-hanging fruit and are unlikely to exert a lot of effort to hack into someone's personal files or finances unless the target is a celebrity or a billionaire. National Cyber Security Awareness Month aims to spread awareness about hackers and their techniques in order to reduce the number of victims in future years and stop the number from rising this year.