Cybersecurity is a modern concept and has changed the traditional definition of security. With the advent of the internet and the world wide web, malicious actors began using the internet for criminal acts. In this digital age, security needed to adapt and prevent cybercrime in tandem with traditional security.
Cyber criminals are becoming more emboldened as cyber technology improves. However, the cybersecurity industry is actively catching up. In 2019, the global cybersecurity industry was valued at $156.5 billion, according to PR Newswire. Companies worldwide of all sizes are increasing their cybersecurity budget. Organizations spend anywhere from $250,000 to $999,999, with larger enterprises spending well over $1 million. This, however, hasn’t stopped cybercriminals from targeting important industries.
In early June, REvil, a ransomware group, attacked JBS S.A., the largest meat processing company in the world. The group disrupted the company’s meat production in North America and Australia. JBS USA, a subsidiary of JBS S.A., paid an $11 million ransom in order to “mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated.” The company confirmed in a preliminary investigation that no company, customer or employee data was compromised.
In May, Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the U.S., was attacked by DarkSide, a cybercriminal hacking group believed to be based in Eastern Europe. The hackers shut down the company’s computer systems, causing fuel shortages on the East Coast. Panic buying ensued, with long lines of vehicles waiting at gas stations. The company ultimately paid around $4.4 million to the group to resume normal operations. However, the FBI went on the offensive and seized $2.3 million back from DarkSide.
The topic of cybersecurity and cybercrime is immensely dense. It can be easy to get lost in the sea of information, but there are ways to navigate this complex road.
First, keep up to date. The topic of cybersecurity doesn’t come up often until something newsworthy happens. The big three—NBC, ABC, and CBS—covered the cyber attacks on Colonial Pipeline and JBS extensively. These three news sources will help you understand the situation from beginning to end. Always check to see if the information being broadcasted is correct.
Next, check the companies’ websites as well as government bulletins. Usually, these targeted companies publish media statements and press releases. These contain current ways the company is dealing with the situation as well as the actions they plan on taking. Official government websites can also offer insight on what the government’s stance is on cybersecurity as well as its current and future actions to prevent cybercrime.
You will also want to get some context on cybersecurity. While the topic is becoming more prominent, it also has a deep history. Historical examples of similar cyber attacks can show the audience that this isn’t a new thing and that it constantly evolves, so cybersecurity must evolve, too.
Finally, get ahead of the story and see what companies are doing now to prevent cyber attacks. With the growing prominence of cyber attacks, companies are being pressured to do more to protect themselves, their employees and their customers. Research what organizations are implementing to protect their data. Are they allocating more funds to their cybersecurity budget? Are they hiring more IT personnel? Are they updating their software? These are the questions that need to be asked. After all, these companies affect all areas of life, so it is important to know the answers.
It’s also a good idea to connect with local experts. Of course, cybersecurity firms and consultants are an obvious place to start, but their expertise can be invaluable to offer local angles to national stories or to explain complex attacks. Utilize local colleges and universities as well, where you’re sure to find tech researchers with immense knowledge on current trends. These experts can help you stay in front of the story and keep you knowledgable on what to look for in your reporting.
To read more about cybersecurity, read part two of this series here.
If you want to learn more about cybersecurity in detail, please look at the infographic below. Sources are underlined.