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The Growing Costs of Unexpected Network Behavior

Posted In WAN & Network - By Techtiplib on Thursday, May 7th, 2015 With No Comments »

Malicious code is older than the Internet. The Creeper program written by Bob Thomas in 1971 is generally accepted as the first computer virus. Ironically, it was intended as a demonstration of the principles of mobile applications that have grown into the portable apps relied on to this day. As shown in the “Blackhats and Cyber Attacks” infographic, self-replicating programs have become steadily more harmful, and the cybersecurity industry has grown along with them.

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The Morris Worm

Another virus with supposedly innocent intentions, the Morris Worm infected about 6,000 computers in November 1988. It was designed to measure the size of the Internet by spreading along computer networks through random replication. Because of the arbitrary nature of it movements and replication, computers could become infected multiple times with each instance of the program using a little more network resources and processing power. Predictably, heavily infected systems and networks quickly crashed causing an estimated $90 million in damage and paving the way for the modern distributed denial-of-service attack.

Jonathan James Defense Threat Reduction Agency Breach

In the late summer and early autumn of 1999, then 15-year-old Jonathan James used a compromised server in Dallas, Texas along with an early network sniffer to intercept usernames and passwords of the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency along with the source code for the International Space Station’s life support systems. Jonathan James was the first juvenile to be convicted of a cybercrime and served six months in federal prison.

Target Point-of-Sale Breach

Though certainly not the first, or even the best, the Target point-of-sale breach was one of the first consumer data breaches to receive widespread media attention. The BlackPOS program infected Windows credit card processing machines to collect 40 million credit and debit card numbers from Target customers. The November 2013 breach is estimated to have reduced Target’s sales by 46 percent when compared to the previous year.

Anthem Medical Data Breach

In January 2015, Anthem and all their subsidiaries – including Anthem Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and Healthlink – were compromised in a sophisticated cyber attack originating from an unknown source. The unencrypted data appears to have been collected over a period of weeks or months before the breach was discovered. This data includes the names, social security numbers, birthdays, addresses, medical records, and employment information of over 80 million Anthem customers. Damage has been estimated to exceed $100 million.

There is a clear trend in the outcomes of network security breaches. With the ever-growing presence of the Internet and the value of identity information, it is essential to safeguard valuable information online as though it were cash.

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