More and more businesses are now using the cloud to store their customers’ data. As with all new technologies, hackers will look to exploit any security vulnerabilities they can find. While the attack on Friend Finder Networks does not appear to have been a cloud-based attack, a number of high-profile attacks have taken place against cloud storage systems in recent years.
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All of the big supermarkets now let you order your groceries online and websites exist that can be used to order a takeaway, while Amazon can now be used to order almost anything! Most of these services now also have apps to make such transactions even easier for the consumer too. This is because increased internet penetration, along with affordable data packs, has meant consumer-focused businesses have boomed in the last ten years.
All of this means that consumers are now increasingly comfortable making online financial transactions. I’d even argue that consumers now come to expect the ease and convenience of making financial transactions in this way. However, the public should be wary of handing over their financial details so easily.
Businesses, particularly big businesses, have embraced cloud storage options in recent years to store their data as, among other reasons, cloud storage solutions have meant they no longer have the numerous costs associated with storing all their information in large data centres. However, some businesses don’t seem to understand the potential hazards of using such a method for storing customer data.
While the cloud has opened up new frontiers, it’s also opened up a whole new world of security issues, as hackers now have another way to try and access people’s personal and financial information.
Therefore, it is vitally important that businesses processing and storing customer information do their utmost to ensure it is secure and safe from those with sinister motives. This, unfortunately, is not always the case.
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For example, the last two years has seen a number of high-profile attacks against cloud storage systems. For example, this is not the first time Friend Finder Networks has been attacked, as their site, Adult Friend Finder, was previously attacked in May 2015. Furthermore, the attack on Apple’s iCloud platform that resulted in the release of the personal photographs of many high-profile figures was a big talking point in the summer of 2014 and it was only last month that the hacker was finally sentenced for his crimes. Similar to the attack on Friend Finder Networks, in July 2015, a group called The Impact Team claimed to have stolen all the personal details of the extra-marital dating site Ashley Madison’s 37 million users in a separate attack. The next month, this information was then released in two large data dumps. In turn, this led to a number of people being targeted by extortionists for large sums of money.
On all of these occasions, the hackers were able to access this information following a single hack too. As who working in the FinTech sector, where large amounts of customer financial data is processed on a daily basis, I find this very worrying, particularly given more and more people now make online transactions.
However, it may be unfair to only highlight cloud storage, as hackers will attack wherever they can find a weak spot in a company’s security. It may simply be that the initial high-profile attacks put the spotlight onto cloud storage systems, making them a well-known target for other subsequent hackers.
Given these most recent revelations, I’m sure we can all agree that online security needs to be a top priority. It really isn’t difficult either, as common sense practices, such as businesses keeping all their security software up-to-date and making sure their privacy and spam settings are rigid, really do go a long way to helping a business keep itself and the information it keeps protected.