At Boeing Co.’s cyber operations center in St. Louis, the aircraft manufacturer has a flashing 54-inch computer screen warning them of computer hackers and corporate spies looking to gain access.
In one hour this spring, Boeing’s elaborate antivirus scanning detection system logged 3,722 suspicious efforts to acquire access to the company’s global computer network.
Boeing analysts act quickly with each other at other locations to secure their network and identify the unwanted intruders.
“The bad guys are really good at hiding their tracks,” said Kevin Nikkel, a Boeing security analyst.
They’re very persistent. The automated attacks at Boeing never stop, keeping all their security analysts busy 24 hours a day.
And that’s just at Boeing.
The new head of the U.S. Cyber Command, Gen. Keith Alexander, said this month that Pentagon systems are attacked 250,000 times an hour, or 6 million times a day according to their scans. They are attacked by foreign intelligence agents, criminal enterprises and hackers, security specialists say.
“In short, we face a dangerous combination of known and unknown vulnerabilities,” said Alexander, who also runs the National Security Agency.
“It’s an enormous problem that has been creeping up on us,” said Ronald Ross, a government computer scientist who establishes security protocol for federal agencies and government contractors.
“There’s a whole new wave of cyber attacks being launched right now at the U.S. government and businesses from very sophisticated threat sources,” he said.
James Lewis, an expert on cybersecurity at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the origin of today’s vulnerability is the disregard to security over the years in building out global networks. Now, he said, hacking operations have increased with such sophistication that some of them deploy thousands of computers to automatically send malicious probes 24 hours a day.
“You have consumers and companies and federal agencies for whom security is not their top priority, maybe not even a third-level priority. Against them, you have intelligence agencies and criminals for whom this is their top priority,” he said.
How does this affect the average computer user?
These attacks are happening on a similar scale to some of the most visited websites on the web.
Malware is a potent threat to your computer, turning your PCs into botnet monsters, putting keyloggers on your computer to capture banking passwords, and placing back doors that will let them steal valuable information from your computer.
E-mail has been the main format for malware delivery; most of us have fought back with virus and spam filters on our mail servers. Now, malware developers have drastically stepped up attacks via the Web. Their driving force is corrupting legitimate sites to place malware onto PCs and steering people to sites especially designed to compromise their computers. Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook, where users are used to clicking on shared links, are the perfect breeding grounds for malware distribution.
The Antivirus Help Center has found out over the years that the best defense against cyber crimes is made up of two parts. The first part is to make sure your computer is running an updated antivirus software in your PC. (We provide a list of the ones we have tested and found to be the best, See Chart.)
The second part is what we call using good computer common sense. That means not opening unknown email with too good to be true special offers, don’t download programs from sites without verifying if the site is safe, and if you’re on a social network site make sure you have your guards up. You can always send us an email if you have any questions or concern, we answer all emails usually within 24 hours. (It’s Free!)
Check out our Antivirus Solutions Page for the best antivirus software products available to protect your computer from harm.
George Steel – Covers Internet security issues, malicious threats, computer virus threats from all around the world, and general technology breaking news for Antivirus Help Center.