Threat actors can be responsible for seriously impacting another organization’s security. Experienced threat actors with the right resources can hack an organization either externally, internally, or as a partner. Theoretically, a threat actor can really come in any kind of form, but in this case, the biggest actors usually act has whole governments or nation-states.
It’s very important for people to read the news once in a while and be aware who the biggest threat actors are. Whether you’re just an individual who surfs the web on occasion or you’re a huge company that does business globally, you can still be at an equal risk. These groups only need to possess the ability to potentially cause impact in order for them to be considered a major threat actor.
So, who are the biggest threat actors in the cyber security game that you need to look out for? Read on.
China is neither an ally or an enemy of the U.S. But, when it comes to cyber security, the United States can’t be too careful. That’s because according to comments made by FBI director James Comey, prior to 2015, the Chinese had been the most industrious nation responsible for cyber attacks. One of the biggest threat actors, China has been reported to conduct complex intrusion campaigns to obtain sensitive information that would have supported their state-owned enterprises.
This type of data theft is one of the driving factors that led to the U.S./China agreement over the theft of intellectual property. It’s believed to this day that China was involved in two major breaches, the Anthem Breach, and the OPM Breach. In addition to that, the FBI released a study of 165 companies that experienced data breaches, and 95% of those breaches had come from China. Though it’s believed that the prevalence of attacks from China have somewhat decreased, U.S. companies still need to be aware of how this threat actor could affect them.
Coming in second place is the sanctuary for asylum-seeker Edward Snowden, Russia. It seems as though the Kremlin is always making headlines for cyber security hacks, most recently for their involvement with the DNC and the White House. But, even before then, it’s no question that Russia has consistently played a huge role as one of the biggest threat actors in the world.
And, when it comes to Russia’s involvement, they’ve proved that there is really nothing too big or too outlandish for them to hack. As if the U.S. government isn’t enough, they’re also known to have hacked the medical records of U.S. athletes- Olympic athletes- who had participated in last year’s games in Rio.
Number three may be a tie between several countries or groups, but because of its uniqueness, ISIS is at number three on this list. ISIS is named a huge threat actor because of its attacks in 2015 and 2016 on the European Union. They also made news for their attack in 2016 that targeted close to 3,000 New Yorkers. Though these New Yorkers possessed nothing in particular that would have made them targets, it’s yet another reminder that you don’t need to be a large company or organization to have your private information hacked.
Of course, no one can forget the hack North Korea pulled last year on SONY, which caused the movie to be pulled out from theaters entirely. That was a sophisticated hack the likes of we’ve never seen before. We’ve also seen hacks from Iran and Syria. And, there’s no telling who we may be able to add to this list in the future.
You might be thinking, “How would these nation-state threat actors even get to me?” Well, the thing with these hacks is that they usually occur on such a large scale and are often very complex. It can be months before a company even knows they’ve been hacked. Most of the time, they won’t even notice the breach themselves. It’s not until the government or a third-party, like a cyber security blogger, reveals the hack occurred, that the company would be able to do anything about it.
Cyber security is important for everyone, whether you run a multi-million dollar company or you’re just a regular individual who occasionally buys things online. That being said, there are some companies that need to take cyber security more seriously than others, because they are required to deal with cyber compliance. If these companies don’t comply, they can have serious problems down the road that can cause chaos and even irreversible damage for themselves and their customers.
If you work in one of these industries and you require cyber compliance, it’s imperative that you have the evidence you need for when a cyber compliance audit comes knocking at your door.
If you fall into this category, you probably already know you do. But, just to be sure, companies that need to deal with cyber compliance on a regular basis include medical and dental practices with HIPAA laws, retail companies or other companies that need to follow PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance, as well as legal offices, etc.
If you ever collect private or sensitive data from your customers, whether it be social security numbers or your client’s intellectual propery, then guess what? You need to make sure you’re cyber compliant.
So, you know who you are. Great. Now it’s time to learn more about yourself and whether or not your company is at risk of a cyber breach. But, where to start? You could be an expert at running your business, but cyber security may not be something you’re exactly familiar with. You need a professional that can help.
Hiring an unbiased third party that can teach you about your company’s exposure and whether or not you have any holes in your network is the first step. Why do we say “unbiased?” Because you don’t want someone who is personally invested in the company to create a conflict of interest. Whether that conflict of interest is due to work related reasons or financial reasons, you wouldn’t want that to play a factor in having your compliance check done correctly.
Furthermore, learning about your exposure is the first step in taking serious cyber security precautions, to try and prevent a dangerous hack from impacting you and your customers. Because, as we all know, any cyber breach can cause huge costs for a company.
If a hack ever does happen, at least you’ll have proof that you took the steps necessary to make sure your company was cyber compliant. Believe it or not, that can help you a lot in the long run. Now, you’ll be prepared when those cyber compliance audits start rolling in.
After you’ve made the decision to hire a professional for your cyber compliance, here’s what you can expect to happen next. First, they will see where there are some inconsistencies or problems in your network. They’ll patch up any current IT problems, then they’ll do another assessment to make sure the work we did was effective.
First, they will see whether or not there are inconsistencies or problems in your network. If there are problems, they’ll patch them up, and then do another assessment to make sure the work done was effective.
Afterwards, you’ll be issued a very important document. This is your solid piece of evidence proving your company has taken all the necessary steps for cyber compliance. It shows you’ve gone through professionals and everything checks out. As far as everyone is concerned, (including the auditor) there are no present risks.
This document is something that’s so important to have in your industry, not only for peace of mind for you and the customers that trust you, but to keep your back covered at all times.
The team that issued you this document should then continue to stay in touch and conduct a semi-annual or quarterly assessment to make sure you’re still compliant. Their job is to regulate that compliance. Therefore, if something comes up, they can fix it again and make sure you’re still following standards.
Why wouldn’t you want to protect yourself?
At the end of the day, there’s no arguing when it comes to your company being cyber compliant. If you fail to be compliant and a breach occurs, guess who will be at fault? Do yourself a favor. Do what you need to to look out for the best interest of your company and your customers.
Also, you never know when an auditor might come and ask for that necessary document!