August 05, 2016
Cybercrime today is undeniably a significant problem for consumers. Yet, cyberattacks have become so routine that, unless someone you know has been a victim, reports of cybercrime often do not even raise eyebrows. Fortunately, there are realistic steps that may minimize the risks that all computer users face every day.
“This is a very, very active environment that we are living in,” says Jason Witty, U.S. Bank’s Chief Information Security Officer. “If you have an unpatched system that has some sort of vulnerability on it, the average time it will take for that vulnerability to be exploited is less than 12 minutes.”
That number is an average: Some vulnerabilities are found and used in far less time. Computer viruses are created to seek out “security holes” (vulnerabilities). Once the holes are found, viruses are programmed to steal personally identifying information. Then, cybercriminals can use this information to steal and extort money before selling and reselling it to other fraudsters.
The scope of the threat is particularly noteworthy — an estimated 70,000 viruses are released every single day, according to anti-virus supplier Kaspersky Labs.
Take, for example, a 21-year-old programming language and software platform called Java. “Every month, the bad guys find new holes in Java,” Witty says. This is especially significant given that Java is integral to the functionality of a significant portion of the internet — 90 percent of all desktops in the United States use Java, and it is on 3 billion mobile phones, according to business-software maker Oracle.