Header Ads

U.S. State Department Breached – Is your Business safe?

We now live in an age where massive security breaches are striking even the largest and most powerful technology corporations on the planet. The hack that struck Sony during the closing weeks of 2014 is expected to cost the corporation millions of dollars in IT costs alone by the time that everything is said and done - to say nothing of the possibly irreparable damage that has been done to Sony's reputation at the same time. These threats are especially prevalent as more and more businesses move away from traditional data storage models in favor of cloud based computing. The only thing more frightening than the breaches themselves are the increasingly high profile organizations that are falling victim to these attacks. Case in point: a new report indicates that high ranking US officials now think that Russian hackers were to blame on a data breach that struck the White House.

What Happened?

The recent breach of White House electronics components and other security systems began as part of a separate incident that struck the United States State Department in November of 2014. Though officials have declined to go into a large amount of detail due to issues of national security, it is now known that once Russian hackers infiltrated the State Department, they were able to then use that new access to infiltrate the secure White House computer network. Suspicious activity was first noticed by officials at the White House in December of 2014, though it has not been confirmed just how long the problem went on.

It's important to note that the White House utilizes various electronics components to create two separate networks that are operating simultaneously - one that contains classified information and one that is completely unclassified, similar to the type of network that may be at use in a regular business. It is currently suspected that the hackers were only able to gain access to the unclassified network at this time.

How Businesses Can Protect Themselves

Many people assume that the vast majority of all security breaches are software-based in nature. All it takes is someone to click on a suspicious link in an unsolicited e-mail and suddenly malware is downloaded onto the system, compromising the network that it is connected to. While this does have some basis in fact, many people don't realize just how vulnerable electronics components can be to these types of scenarios.

One of the security-related issues with electronics components and other hardware based attacks has to do with the types of suppliers that companies are using. Because cost is usually the deciding factor when purchasing new equipment, many companies have foregone the usual process of obtaining electronics components from authorized resellers in favor of saving as much money as possible in the short term. Unfortunately, a large number of these devices have backdoor vulnerabilities that other countries can use to gain access to systems once this hardware is installed in the United States. Indeed, it is believed that the majority of cyber-attacks that are carried out against US-based companies are done so at the behest of rival governments.

As a result, buying electronics components only from authorized resellers with firm reputations is one of the most important steps that companies can take to protect themselves against such a serious threat.

Final Thoughts

Another significant step that businesses can take to protect themselves against these types of attacks has to do with actively utilizing electronics components like hardware security modules. Also called HSMs, a hardware security module is specifically designed for the protection of transmitted data through encryption, decryption and authentication. A dedicated encryption processor not only helps to make sure that all information being transmitted from one business to another is secure, but it also increases the speed at which such protection can be enabled and helps to improve profitability and maintain compliance on behalf of the business itself.