ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — We're a long way from the days of dial-up internet connections. We have an almost endless choice of devices — devices that can connect us instantly to the world. However, the innovation enhancing our lives can also be an achilles heel ... vulnerable to a hack.
What can be hacked? The simple answer — anything and everything.
We've reached an age where business and government rely on technology and computer networks. And consumer access to internet connected devices is exploding.
First, it's important to understand the real level of threat. It's basically off the charts.
"The consequences for modern society are potentially catastrophic," said Joe Scherrer, the Executive Director of Professional Education in the McKelvey School of Engineering and the Director of the Cybersecurity Strategic Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis.
Scherrer spent more than two decades in the U.S. Air Force. While serving at the Pentagon he was architect of the first national military strategy for cyberspace.
"We have cyber criminals all across the globe that it's a 9 to 5 job, and they're buying and selling access, and they're exploiting vulnerabilities that really boils down to our inability — the humans' inability — to do what needs to be done to make ourselves a harder target"
Experts say we let hackers get a foot in the door ... without much effort on their part.
At the recent Gateway to Innovation Conference in downtown St. Louis, I spoke with IT professionals between sessions. I asked about their biggest security worries. People falling prey to phishing emails topped the list.
These tactics are called "social engineering." Using simple psychological manipulation, cybercriminals get people to cough up confidential information or trick them into opening a file or clicking links containing malware.
Every year Verizon releases a Data Breach Investigation Report. Email is once again a top concern.
Verizon's investigation revealed attacks against company executives spiked in the past year. Top executives especially ... they're 12 times more likely to be the victim of an email attack.