Akamai Technologies CEO Tom Leighton is in awe of the incredible levels of internet traffic during the coronavirus pandemic and the ability of the global tech infrastructure to cope with it. But during the stay-at-home boom, the web and cybersecurity expert also closely observed a boom in bad actors.
With so many people working from home, hackers are taking advantage and massively increasing the number of attacks as the daily routine changes caused by the pandemic drag on and become potentially permanent.
“I think the threat actors are trying to profit from the pandemic, and of course the price is greater now that so many business has been moved online,” Leighton told TBEN’s “Squawk Box” Wednesday.
Quarter over quarter – Akamai released its third quarter results this week – the cybersecurity and cloud computing company tracked a doubling of what Leighton called “malicious traffic,” with telecommuting making it easier to target.
“People are working remotely and are less secure, and many companies still haven’t fully caught up with security,” he said. “The threat actors are working very hard,” said the CEO of Akamai Technologies, who will speak on cybersecurity challenges for the digital economy at the TBEN Technology Executive Council virtual summit on Thursday.
Leighton also said that over the past two months Akamai Technologies has seen a “huge increase” in DDoS extortion attacks, primarily threatening financial institutions and domestic stock markets. A recent example is the New Zealand stock market, which was targeted in September.
DDoS stands for Distributed Denial of Service. According to the Department of Homeland Security, these attacks are designed to target multiple machines and are used to make key resources unavailable. A classic DDoS attack, for example, disrupts a financial institution’s website and temporarily blocks the ability of consumers to bank online. But it doesn’t have to be a bank. It can be an attack that targets any network or server within an organization and sends so much traffic that services are slowed down or taken offline.
While a DDoS attack is not a new approach and is one of the less sophisticated categories of cyber threats, it has the potential to be one of the most disruptive and powerful in taking websites offline and digital services for significant periods of time. range from seconds to even weeks at a time.
Overall, denial of service attacks are considered preventable, and Leighton said Akamai is making huge investments in security to be able to stay ahead. He also said more than 95% of Akamai employees work remotely.
The CEO of Akamai said that various forms of cyberattack beyond DDoS occur, from “application layer attacks” where a hacker attempts to corrupt content on websites; insert malware into employee devices to facilitate a data breach in a large organization; and even top-tier websites hacked with “magecart” attacks, which can start by compromising a third-party site that associates with a larger web company and thereby gain access to their users.
Leighton said companies operating in the remote new world of work need to keep the threat in mind at all times.
“Zero trust and security in the cloud. Your employees are no longer “on site”, “he said, referring to the term to be physically located at a work site that also has its IT infrastructure on site. “You can’t secure with it on-site anymore, and that’s why we’re seeing data breaches. … Companies have figured out how to allow employees to work remotely, but not how to be secure.”
Beyond the pandemic, the challenges of securing the technology will increase as new innovations, such as 5G network technology, hit the market. Leighton said 5G will lead to more devices being connected and a true Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, but that will come with new security factors as well.
“Billions of devices will be connected and there will be very low last mile latency, higher throughput, lower cost and new applications, much like when broadband was first deployed,” he said. declared.
But figuring out how to support these new applications with computing at the edge – bringing computing and data storage closer to the actual location of devices – will be a challenge in securing the use of the 5G network. “A lot of devices are not secure,” Leighton said.
the TBEN Technology Executive Council Virtual Summit take place on Thursday and feature speakers including Leighton on “Securing the Digital Economy”; former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos on election security and online disinformation; and Frank Slootman, CEO of Snowflake, the hottest tech IPO of 2020.