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Cybersecurity in a Digital World

October 30, 2017
Posted by: David Sands

Graphic depicting random strings of numbers in a digital font overlaying a blue background. Atop this backdrop, a prominent illuminated padlock surrounded by ornate concentric circles is shown.

In what’s become a predominantly digital world, cybersecurity is playing an increasingly large role in keeping our most sensitive data safe from cyber attackers. Think of all the important information stored online: bank accounts, identity information, personal information and so much more. When that data falls into the wrong hands your entire livelihood is immediately at risk.

Unfortunately, cyber-attacks are all too common. From January through September of this year alone there have been more than 30 major data breaches in the U.S. It’s estimated there have been 40% more breaches in 2017 than there were in 2016. This speaks to the importance of cybersecurity and why as a career opportunity, cybersecurity continues to be in such high demand.

Recent Data Breach Disasters

You likely heard about the recent Equifax data breach, making headlines due in large part to the disconcertingly large number of Americans affected. It was the largest breach in history and its lasting effects are still being felt by many. It wasn’t the only large-scale breach this year, though, and unfortunately, it might not be the last. Here are some the biggest and most impactful breaches we know of in 2017.

Equifax – Last July Equifax, one of the world’s largest credit reporting agencies, experienced a data breach resulting in more than 140 million Americans’ most sensitive information, such as social security numbers, addresses, birthdays and driver’s license numbers, were compromised and made public. Even consumers who have never worked directly with Equifax learned their information could very well be compromised since Equifax works directly with banks, lenders and various credit card companies and thus deals with crucial customer information.

Verizon – Only weeks before the Equifax news broke, 14 million Verizon customers experienced a data breach stemming from an attack on customer service records. Essentially, those who made a phone call to Verizon’s customer service during the previous six months were at risk of having their personal information being compromised.

Arby’s – In February, fast food chain Arby’s admitted a data breach had taken place at a number of its corporate locations across the country. Using a kind of malware, the breach targeted customer’s credit card information as they paid for their meal at the register.

Kmart – In a similar situation, retail store Kmart dealt with a malware attack for an undisclosed amount of time occurring at an undisclosed number of stores. Although no personal identifying information was reportedly taken, thousands of credit card numbers fell into the wrong hands.

Gmail – Although the Gmail data breach in May didn’t originate within Google, it still affected thousands of Gmail users. The breach was executed via a phishing scheme, which baited users into clicking a link sent to them in an email disguised to appear as if it were from a trusted contact. Clicking the link resulted in accounts being hacked, thus posing a number of issues to the account holder.

Sonic – The fast food restaurant had millions of credit card numbers stolen during a breach in late September. Although the full depth of the breach – like how many of Sonic’s thousands of restaurants were compromised – is still unknown, the company has acknowledged a large number of recent customers were impacted.

Whole Foods Market – Most recently, it was discovered customers who paid for services at the Whole Foods’ on-site taprooms and restaurants, but not the grocery store registers, may have had payment information, like credit card numbers, compromised in a mass breach of payment systems in late September 2017.

Get Your Degree in Cybersecurity

Considering the rising number of data breaches and cybersecurity attacks taking place this year, with more undoubtedly on the horizon, expertly trained cybersecurity professionals are in high demand now more than ever. If you have a passion for solving problems and helping others, consider getting your bachelor of science in cybersecurity at the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Be a part of the future of crime prevention by visiting UMFK online and applying today.