Cyber Espionage: The guide on it and how to avoid it.

November 26, 2021

What is Cyber Espionage?

Cyber spying is the act of performing an attack or a series of attacks that allow an unauthorized user or users to access classified information. These types of attacks are typically discrete, involving little more than a nebulous part of code or program running within the background of an individual workstation or mainframe. The victim is typically a corporation or government agency.

The aim is usually to obtain intellectual property or secrets of the government. Attacks may be inspired by greed or by profit, or even as part of an operation by the military or in the form of terrorist acts. The consequences can range from the loss of competitive advantage to the loss of information, materials infrastructure, and even the lose of life.

Why should you need to be concerned about cyber espionage even if your company is not surrounded by classified or any other clearly important information?

This is due to the connectivity between internet Internet as well as global trade.
We all know there’s no point in trespassing on an adequately secured front gate, even if there’s a tinny backdoor that’s not locked. These backdoors are often subcontractors suppliers, vendors, service providers, customers, partners, industrial control systems, and even harmless devices that are Internet-connected.

The globalization of commerce has meant that the backdoors are now more less secure and checked than ever before. Think about the much-discussed Internet of Things. which can sometimes feel like it could be described better by the name ” The Internet of Barely Latched Backdoors.”

Ok, Who Left the Backdoor Unlatched?

These backdoors allow hackers to gain immediate access into your network, from which they are able to quickly cause more damage by upgrading privileges and taking over your device.

Access is shared across networks and from one privileged account to another. This is the reason password sharing can be a big risk.
A very relatable example is pizza delivery, for instance, many people aren’t concerned that their passwords for a local delivery company could be compromised, but this can be a concern when the password combination is used to access (directly or indirectly via the ability to guess patterns) to a home Email account.

When that happens to be a backup email for the corporate email account. That is then you hand over the keys to an administrator account in your company’s database. And is, in turn, any stored database. As well as data,that will reveal any private information your business has left. It’s all because someone has used an insecure password to order pizza.

This connectivity makes it significantly more nimble to exploit than it was in the past because of the increasingly user-friendly hacking tools and the wide availability of malware-as-service products. Cyber espionage has become increasingly subcontracting.

Cyber Espionage Examples

Below are a few examples of cyber-spying and its motives.

Aurora

In the last quarter of the year 2009, there was a string of cyberattacks that targeted specific information tied with Gmail accounts, mainly the ones owned by Chinese human rights activists. Since the beginning of the year, the vulnerability was identified, and the vulnerability was assigned the codename “Aurora.”

Similar to the previous example it was a couple of years later, a group codenamed “Scarlet Mimic” began launching attacks to gather information about minorities’ rights activists. In recent times, Scarlet Mimic has started expanding its cyber-espionage attack to smartphones, and not only PCs, indicating a change in the organization’s methods.

GhostNet

In the year 2009, researchers from The University of Toronto exposed a massive cyber-espionage scheme called “GhostNet.” Their investigation revealed that numerous computers linked to governmental systems that contained information about Dalai Lama had been compromised and infected with malware that had the ability to monitor, some of these attacks never make sense untill the damage has been done, some remain a mystery till date.

Protecting Yourself Against Cyber Espionage

Cyber espionage could cause damage to reputations as well as stolen data, which could include private and personal information. Cyberattacks targeting the military could cause operations to fail. They may also lead to lives lost because of leaks of classified information.

What are the specifics of what cybercriminals are looking for when they plan an attack?

Common goals include:

• Internal data, Employment wages, research and development.
• Intellectual property Formulas, top-secret projects plans, Investigation reports, or other forms of private information. • Anything that attackers could make available or sell for their own advantage.
• Competitive intelligence and marketing short and long-term goals and knowledge of competitors.

Prevention

Computers are made by humans. The software we use will be vulnerable. There isn’t any absolute security to protect government agencies and corporate entities from cyber espionage. The most important thing for organizations and government agencies right now is keeping current with the security policies and procedures.

It is important to assess risks regularly and keep a security plan in the event of vulnerability that might occur in a sudden manner. A lot of companies have daily security protocols and have a prepared response strategy in place to be followed in the event that an attack becomes apparent.

Backups that are regularly scheduled as well as security updates to hardware and software are essential to follow. These processes are documented, confirmed, and audited for future conformity procedures. The procedures cover managing of mobile devices, too.

Cybersecurity specialists work in conjunction with their IT department to create multiple layers of security firewalls that provide protection. The firewalls are constructed based on the virtual environment at the workplace. These cloud-based environments and virtual software, which are widely used all over the world, are also prone to be hacked by viruses and malware so there isnt a one shoe fits all.

Conclusion

Cyber surveillance or Cyber Espionage is an aspect of our times. Governments and corporations take numerous steps to protect themselves from cyber espionage attacks.

The employees of the company are taught about security and its importance. They are taught to protect confidential information. The understanding of viruses and malware is crucial because they can be used to carry out attacks on data by cybercriminals.
In the event your company or work place mandate you to download a piece of application/software on your devices, its in your best interest to comply, saving everyone the trouble that comes with Cyber Espionage.

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