At the moment it seems like every week another huge company's been hacked. You might remember the "TalkTalk hack" which compromised over 157,000 user accounts. The data from this breach could have been used to steal someone's identity, gain access to accounts on other websites, or perhaps even pay for online purchases.
The TalkTalk hacker turned out to be a 15-year-old... While we all know young people are becoming more and more computer literate, it is still worrying to think that so much damage could be done by someone so young, or really any single person! This was made possible using code injection - that essentially means that the hacker was able to find a vulnerable part of the site and use that to run harmful code within the site (there's a lot more to it, but it's all on Google if you're interested).
The 70s saw some of the first-ever viruses, these were transferred using infected floppy disks. In the 1980s the first internet virus was created - the Morris Worm. The Morris Worm wasn't intended to cause harm, however, due to a missed line of code this virus ended up crashing thousands of computers. The US government estimated costs of this virus to be anywhere from $100,000-$10,000,000! Since then computer viruses have become a lot more advanced, along with the systems used to protect against them. Protection against viruses has become so strong that most computer attacks are a result of human error - passwords are too easy to guess, websites are coded insecurely & new software might not be properly tested, people might even be tricked into giving away their passwords!
So, how can you protect yourself? There are a few recommendations you might have heard a lot. Don't use the same password for everything, make sure your passwords aren't easy to guess or too short & try to avoid any dodgy sites. Other than that, there's not a huge amount to be done - who knows which big site's going to get hacked next?
For an individual, security is important but for a business, the stakes are raised even higher! Think of the damage that can be done just by guessing a companies Twitter password - a company's public reputation could be destroyed with just a few well-chosen words.
The world of cybersecurity is an interesting but scary place. If you've learnt just one thing from this article it should be something along the lines of, "Don't choose a password like your dog's name, or Password123."