19th September 2013
BBC's Horizon reveals how we're defeating the hackers

How we’re defeating the hackers…

Switch2IT’s Director Daniel Piggott attended the Academic Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security Research to complete his MSc in Information Security and each member of the Switch2IT team is skilled in IT support and security. We believe that staying abreast of the dynamic world of cyber security research is paramount and this is why we were so pleased to see the subject highlighted in the public domain via Horizon – Defeating the Hackers. This BBC programme looked at how scientists are helping to protect us from cyber-crimes by using the laws of maths and quantum physics to make sure that they are always ahead of the game.

The documentary began with Mat Honan of Wired Magazine describing how hackers stole his identity and wiped out his entire digital life, including his email history and family photos, in just 45 minutes. The series of steps that a bunch of “harmless” teen cyber-criminals took to infringe his data privacy was shockingly simple. After acquiring the last four digits of his credit card number from Amazon they managed to gain access to his Apple account, Google account and social media accounts.

However, as the programme progressed, it became clear that it is not just teens mucking around with code that we need protection from but also:

According to Sean McGruk of Verizon, keyboards are a greater threat to individuals today than bombs and the Switch2IT team has to agree.

Just take the notorious example of Stuxnet, a computer virus that spread initially in 2010 and targeted multiple Industrial Control Systems. This malware was discovered by Eric Chien and Liam O’Murchu of Symantec, just some of the experts employed to protect us from hackers, who had never seen malware written using such sophisticated code.

They found that this malware had the facility to search for Programmable Logic Controllers – small machines that control factory equipment – and silently fingerprint said equipment in order to disguise a later sabotage. Each time a machine was infected, a message was sent back to a server and when the experts gained access to logs on these machines they traced most of the infected machines to a factory in Iran. What alarmed them the most was identifying this as a factory where a nuclear weapons programme was believed to be stored.

Stuxnet managed to destroy around 1000 machines and set back Iran’s nuclear weapon programme by two years and, although the perpetrators have never been confirmed, it is pretty clear who was behind this. What the countries who designed this dangerous baby might not have considered was how Stuxnet could later be released into the wild and infect thousands of computer systems worldwide (which it has!) or how, at some stage, their super sophisticated cyber weapon could be used against them…

Wireless networking worries

While it is the aim of most modern businesses to go wireless, we are aware that a wireless network solution can bring its own IT security issues to the party. For example, if everything in your office is wireless is the potential for it to be hacked remotely not more likely? What is more, once one part of a business network, such as a banking system or transport system, is hacked the whole network could be compromised.

This is why making sure that you seek professional IT consultancy from a specialist cyber security company such as Switch2IT is essential from the outset. IT security is at the core of our business networking services and we are always just one phone call away for all your IT networking needs. The number one cyber security strategy at the moment is to determine and understand malware threats and patch vulnerabilities before the hackers get their chance to strike and, by attending regular training to keep our IT security knowledge and expertise up-to-date, we can pass this security on to you and your business. 

How can quantum physics help?

Did you know that most private data and login information is protected using encryption code made up of prime numbers? Experts describe trying to decipher the original prime number at the heart of encryption code as being as complex as trying to un-fry an egg. Also, as prime numbers get bigger, the codes become increasingly difficult to crack, although not impossible.

Quantum physics is built on the premise that things can exist in more than one place at any one time. Therefore, a quantum computer can do many calculations simultaneously and has a much greater chance of cracking encryption codes. In theory, with this inside knowledge, cyber security experts can defeat the hackers by working out even cleverer ways to maintain data privacy.

How Switch2IT beats the hackers

Many harmful viruses are spread via simple, everyday equipment such as USB sticks, after all this is how Stuxnet got released! If you take away one piece of advice from this article, make sure that you:

Stop and think before connecting any removable media devices to your IT equipment.

  • Only use removable media given to you by a known and trusted source.
  • Make sure that your anti-virus solution is running effectively before connecting any new media devices to your PC or Mac.

Our cyber security experts can provide you with a lot more valuable advice on how to defeat the hackers as well as excellent IT support services from highly secure IT networking and computer system backup strategies to managed service contracts and remote IT support. Contact us for a free business IT support quote today.  What is more, take out a 12 month managed service contract with Switch2IT before 30th December, 2013, and you will be entered into a draw to win an iPad.

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