This article originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Family Office Magazine.
Cyber-related losses over the next few years will exceed several trillion dollars annually. Some of the most researched and respected estimates are much higher - up to $6 trillion annually by 2021, according to Cybersecurity Ventures' hallmark report:
"Cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, ... representing the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history, ... and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined."
While the cost estimates are mind-boggling, one thing is certain; cybercrime-related losses during the early 2020s will include hundreds of millions of new victims across public and private sectors alike. And unfortunately, the record of damages over the next few years will mark a painful period of discovery when humankind was forced to wake to the nature of a new existential risk.
The Digital Strong-Arm
The digital revolution is energizing aggressors, predators, the evil-minded, and other bad actors from around the world with advanced, military-grade hacking and surveillance tools. A new wave of crime equips perpetrators with unlimited amounts of intelligence (a potential victim's personal information) and powerful software to assemble and engineer attacks that are as sophisticated as we've seen in CEO and BEC spear-phishing exploits.
A rising tide of new professional criminals is emerging. It's a diverse set of perpetrators, and they range from organized syndicates with armies of "affiliates" to traditional fraudsters that are retooling their age-old schemes. Their targets aren't Fortune 100 companies, but individuals and small groups that have something to lose. And, for the aggressor, at least for now, it's all low-hanging fruit. The predator's instinct holds in cyber; first attack the weak, unprepared, and defenseless.
Sadly, in cyber, the gap between an attacker's advantage and the defenses of a potential victim has never been as wide. Nor has risk/reward been so out of balance favoring the aggressor. The disconnect in each sides' circumstances is widening, and the damages incurred over the coming years will represent the valley of humankind's evolution to the new Digital Age.
But still, most wildly underestimate the massive amount of financial losses and circumstantial damages to be incurred individually and personally. And, sadly, risks of physical harm, violence, and personal safety continue to converge with digital crime. A dangerous game is turning sinister, and we should expect and plan for possible dark times ahead. It is time to, on an individual level, take stock and consider the matters of privacy and personal information very seriously.
Cybercrime Follows the Money
Most private clients, wealthy families, and VIPs are woefully unprepared for the massive cyber-related risks they face today. When it comes to criminal intent in the new digital era, these groups are optimal targets, and hackers are taking aim. They increasingly seek individuals and families they can extort, blackmail, con, scam, and otherwise defraud for tender with minimal risk and potential for exceptional upside. The threat of cybercrime for the wealthy and notable is growing at a torrid rate. For the next few years, with trillions of dollars at stake and digital defenses so low, there is much at stake.
Abundant Innovation in Cybersecurity Technology
Thankfully, since about 2012, the cybersecurity industry has attracted record levels of fresh capital investment. The skyrocketing increase in cyber-attacks and the surging demand for effective solutions has driven a fountainhead of innovation in the field. The new generation of cybersecurity technology focuses on defensive, preemptive solutions, and incorporates paradigm-shifting technology not available even just a handful of years ago.
Today, advanced cybersecurity technology includes autonomous control centers that monitor and manage all aspects of security tasks. Defenses work in real-time, all the time, across all devices and platforms. And now, artificial intelligence and machine learning are taking cybersecurity to new levels of preemptive protection and efficacy.
My company, Total Digital Security, operates as an online platform that uniquely brings these advancements in defensive technology to protect private clients, wealthy families, family offices, and VIPs with comprehensive solutions and personal support.
The Four Fundamentals
To apply advancements in enterprise-grade cybersecurity technology to the personal lives of our private clients and families, we use a framework we call “The Four Fundamentals of Cybersecurity for Life.”
“The Four Fundamentals” of cybersecurity for everyday life provides a mental picture of personal privacy and security in a digital world. It addresses the three primary attack surfaces; email, devices, and networks, and brings forth the power of using encryption in our daily lives in our regular activities.
Cybersecurity for Life
When you apply advanced cybersecurity technology to "The Four Fundamentals" as listed above, you can achieve a state we call "Cybersecurity for Life." The notion addresses cyber as an an existential risk, and cybersecurity as a life-skill. And it acknowledges that protection has to work everywhere, all the time, across all devices.
We make the advancements in cybersecurity technology and threat intelligence accessible and easy to use for individuals and families. Using data centers and software, security solutions protect and secure email, personal devices, and private networks. Systems are managed at wire-speed, and optimization occurs in real-time, 24/7/365.
With "Cybersecurity for Life," privacy, confidentiality, security, and personal safety are all significantly increased.
Privatize Your Email
Privatizing email is the single most effective measure for reducing cyber risk. With a private email domain that uses the advanced protection available today, nothing gets to an in-box unless it is filtered, screened, credentialed, and if necessary; sandboxed.
Inscrutable algorithms will not determine what you see, and there are never ads. With a private email domain, your information is your personal digital asset, not Big Tech’s. Many private clients are creating family email domains and consider it as a multi-generational digital abode, off the grid of the risk and abuse of “free” email.
Protect Your Devices
Device protection technology in cybersecurity has advanced significantly due to the organizational shift to BYOD and end-point compliance.
We use the advanced science for protecting personal technology like Macs, PCs, Apple iOS, and Android smart devices. Viruses like ransomware and spyware are blocked, and apps will never spy.
All hardware-centric risks are managed, and the device is optimally protected 24/7, including software updates.
Secure Your Network
It is said personal information is the “new oil” for the digital age. If so, our home and office routers are like a gushing rig, and anyone online is a wildcatter. Yet, everything connected to a network is an on-ramp for a cybercriminal.
On-ramps to private networks are proliferating in the form of doorbells, IP security cameras, Alexa’s, and most all physical items in our daily environments. Including, as one victim found, their “smart” aquarium sensor that conveniently sends water PH and temperature and such to his iPhone but led to a $200,000 loss paid from his hacked computer.
Network security technology has advanced measurably, even over just the last two years. We use software-defined networks that are managed to create a bubble of protection for homes and offices, including all the internet-connected devices of smart-homes and appliances.
Use a VPN Every Day
All mobile devices, phones, tablets, and laptops should use a commercial-grade VPN. With a VPN, all outgoing communications are encrypted, and location is masked.
Learning to use and live with a VPN is a mandatory life-skill in the digital age and using the protection they provide is a must. Yes, VPNs can be pesky and cranky, but digital innovation is taking care of that too.
Not all VPNs are equal, and using the right VPN is essential.
Cybersecurity for Life
Digital risk has become an existential risk. The potential for cyber-related harm, loss, and damages of all sorts loom continually and without reprieve. For many, the notion is daunting and overwhelming.
Incorporating the "Four Fundamentals" into daily life not only changes the risk profile of the individual but advances digital critical-thinking skills faster and more effectively than “education” and “awareness” training.
With "Cybersecurity for Life," change happens naturally and is long-lasting. After all, real change is about people and culture, not technology and systems.
Learn more about adaptation and survival and success in the new digital age.
Family Office Magazine Fall 2019 issue, click here.