30 July 2015
It seems like a constant battle to stay one step ahead of the hackers, with companies spending more and more of their resources to avoid falling victim to a costly data breach. But as technology gets smarter, are the hackers simply getting smarter too?
Some of the most successful hackers have "bitten the hand that feeds them" so to speak. One such case is that of 23 year old twin brothers Muneeb and Sohaib Akhter. Once considered computer prodigies, they used their positions as government contractors to help carry out identity theft and state department hacks in the US. The audacious duo and their accomplices used stolen information to buy goods and services, treating themselves to flights, hotel stays and attendances at professional conferences.
Another of the "best" is Albert Gonzalez, a computer criminal who masterminded a string of credit card thefts in the US, pocketing a staggering 170 million US dollars by using SQL injections to steal computer data from private networks and launch ARP spoofing attacks - a technique used to send fake messages to local area networks.
"Hackers are breaking the systems for profit. Before, it was about intellectual curiosity and pursuit of knowledge and thrill, now hacking is big business." - Kevin Mitnick
There are many other hackers who have seen the error of their ways, and now use their expertise at discovering security holes and breaking into servers for fun, to become high paid security analysts, therefore shaping and influencing the IT industry as a whole. For example, former "black hat hacker" Matthew Beddoes was jailed in 2013 for attempting to steal £6.5 million worth of carbon credits from the United Nations' computer systems. He has since gone on to form his own IT security firm.
For a while it seemed that this was the career path of choice for the young hacker - break in to the Department of Defence, go to prison, then come out and bag yourself a lucrative job as a security analyst. However, many companies are now tightening their general recruitment criteria, as on closer inspection, the backgrounds of some "hacker turned analysts" include more than just a few illegal activities, with the risks of allowing these people to access their networks proving too high for some.
There will always be hackers out there thriving on the challenge of the next big break-in, so it's important to take as many precautions as you can to prevent an attack. That means that computer recycling has never been so vital, if you want to keep your data completely secure. So if your company is one that is committed to the security of its obsolete computers and technology products, make sure secure and environmentally friendly computer recycling that adheres to proper recycling regulations is part of your consideration, to ensure ultimate data security.
It's also important to be aware that companies are now legally obliged to safely dispose of potentially sensitive information in accordance with current security laws and the Data Protection Act of 1998. Be sure only to use a computer recycling company that operates in accordance with, and preferably exceeds all government guidelines such as the WEEE Directive and the Data Protection Act.