The Reality of Single Actor Attacks

Kevin David Mitnick, former most wanted hacker and reformed security consultant

Kevin David Mitnick, former most wanted hacker and reformed security consultant

Editor’s note: Timothy Coleman is a prolific writer and analyst who publishes frequently on topics of interest to operational technologists as well as strategic technology thinkers. Olivia Wilson is an award winning literary theorist. We will be bringing you more of their writings in the coming days.- ed.

“The security of our IT systems and the physical security of our firms assets remains a top tier priority. We are investigating the matter and diligently working to address this issue…”

It is difficult to imagine a worse day for a CIO, CSO, CTO or company representative, who, after being told that a major security breach has occurred on their watch, has to deal with responding to a media request to confirm or deny a massive attack has occurred – much less the ensuing multitude of severely displeased customer queries. But it happens, and it happens often.

Breaches in security, especially on the cyber scale, are particularly detrimental because they expose flaws and shortcomings in the most delicate sector of a business’ domain. As technology advances at an exponential rate, so does the amount of techniques for manipulating it.

“As criminals and hackers become more tech-savvy and daring, it is up to security professionals to help businesses stay several steps ahead,” said Ray Cavanagh, a board member of the American Society for Industrial Security’s Physical Security Council and the Vice President of the security company Crescent Guardian.

“To do this, companies and corporate security personnel need to increase their vigilance and recognize the importance that convergence of physical and IT security affords. Together, once siloed assets will play a larger role in better anticipating threats, adapting to trends and increasing the ability to anticipate potential areas of vulnerabilities, counter penetration efforts of opportunity, and thwart targeted attacks across the spectrum.”

As simple as it seems, increasing vigilance and anticipating vulnerabilities in security, even on the most rudimentary scale, can be more complicated than expected –and usually is.

The truth is, in this advancing age of technology, cyberpunks and malintent coders can usually find, or make, a way to access desired information with enough determination and skill. It’s up to businesses to keep the most adept intruders and technically proficient exploiters on their side of the security struggle.

Illustrating this reality, and the consequences that even the most mundane and juvenile attacks on corporations have, is the recent example posted in Forbes of Kevin Mitnick’s favorite acknowledged exploit as a kid targeting the McDonald’s drive-thru intercom system.

About the Authors

Timothy W. Coleman is a security analyst who has co-founded two technology startup firms. He has a Masters of Public and International Affairs in Security and Intelligence Studies and a Masters of Business Administration in Finance.

Olivia E. Wilson is a Boston-based writer and editor who graduated Magna Cum Laude from Boston University’s College of Arts and Sciences. She is an award-winning literary theorist and English language educator.

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