There is a silent war going on, deep beneath the surface of the internet. On one side sit the malicious forces made up of hackers whose nefarious aims include data theft, fraud, and widespread disruption. On the other, an army of similarly skilled yet ethically-driven experts tasked with stopping their criminal foes in their tracks.
The question that the rest of the world is asking is – who is winning this war? Let us take a look at the lie of the land today and the expected trajectory that the conflict will take going forward.
Weighing The Costs
If you focused only on the negative news regarding the state of cybersecurity, you might assume that the good guys have their backs against a wall.
Data breaches are becoming more common and more costly to recover from, hitting businesses with an average of $3.86 million (£3 million) in recovery expenses, according to the latest reports. This represents a 6 percent year on year increase and implies that ethical hackers are facing an uphill struggle, losing ground to their black hat counterparts.
In the face of this threat, it is no surprise to see spending on security solutions rising by almost a tenth each year, with figures projecting that the market will be worth over $180 billion (£140 billion) by 2021.
Breaches can hit huge organizations, exposing personal info and leaving users with an increased likelihood of being defrauded through no fault of their own. So what are the good guys doing to address this?
Anyone who has studied this subject will realize that ethical hacking has benefits that go above and beyond many other types of IT security.
The chief argument in favor of this practice is that it involves taking preliminary action to check whether a cyber attack would be successful, rather than requiring businesses to passively wait and see if the solutions they have spent so much money to procure are effective or not. This is also known as penetration testing.
Ethical hacking, or penetration testing, is also capable of being all-encompassing, delivering a thorough assessment of an organization’s resilience not only to the challenges they face in the virtual sphere but also the physical world. If a third party could stroll into an office, steal devices and data in person and leave without being detected, this is just as much of a problem as being vulnerable to remote attacks.
In this respect, the versatility of ethical hacking makes it a real asset to businesses and individuals alike. It is only through the support of specialists who know what skills are needed to execute breaches that the flaws and backdoors can be closed and protection can be restored.
The important thing to remember is that ethical hacking cannot possibly hope to render a business entirely immune to the attempted incursions of their malicious counterparts. There are always new tricks of the trade being discovered, so permanent vigilance and preparedness are required.
Hacking will exist for as long as there is something to gain from doing it. Even with quantum computing and increasingly complex encryption being developed and deployed, there will still be those who seek to exploit unforeseen loopholes and steal data.
The upshot is that the war between hackers will never end. Thankfully it is not a war of attrition, as reinforcements are always joining the ranks and more money is being injected into the righteous side of the fight to help make up for the growing number of threats out there. So long as businesses and individuals do not let their guard drop, they will have the upper hand.