Fortune MPW Summit: Hackers are getting stronger in the post-pandemic world

The pandemic has virtually doubled Internet usage overnight in the United States and around the world. And the launch of hybrid workplaces doesn’t slow things down.

In fact, usage has increased by 30% this year, Michelle Zatlyn, co-founder, president and COO of Cloudflare said while speaking at Luck‘S The most powerful woman Summit in Laguna Niguel, California this week.

The point is: just as workers and people at home are using the Internet more, so are hackers.

DDOS attacks, designed to bring down websites, increased 111% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2022. Other hacker attacks are also on the rise. And any company that says they have completely protected themselves from those bad actors is lying.

“There is no victory. There is no winning. The war is always going on,” said Dr. Alissa Abdullah, deputy director of security at Master Card. “When we think we’re winning, the opponent is sharpening their knives and putting more bullets in their guns.”

These days, the threat of digital intruders is higher than ever after Russia invaded Ukraine. Recently, hackers tried to influence the operation of nine airports in the US, Abdullah noted. And while they failed this time, that doesn’t mean the attack is over.

“There wasn’t a big bang, but the probes were up,” Zatlyn said. “People need to be on high alert for security.”

Making matters worse? Most companies are holding themselves back by not taking advantage of the diversity in their workforce. About 25% of workers in IT and other technology jobs are women. Only 4% are Asian and only 9% are black.

“Almost [hacker] traffic is not man-made — it is generated by machines,” said Elena Kvochko, trust director at SAP. “We are seeing more and more automation. For us to be on par, we have to think how we can fit that scale. We are unnecessarily crippling ourselves in terms of the cyber workforce.”

“The opponent won’t go to college to learn about cybersecurity,” added Abdullah. “They’re talking to one go, to all, we’ve got information on the dark web.”

The new type of hacker is targeting basically every employee, using all sorts of tricks to convince workers to hand over their credentials. And they’re remarkably effective, as they’ve found a way to burn people or use familiar technology, so it’s virtually impossible to tell if they’re on a phishing site.

“Let’s say something is going on,” said Lisa Edwards, president and chief executive officer of Diligent. “No one has a crystal ball, but we can all say from a readiness perspective, ‘Do we know what our plan is? [in case of an attack]? ‘”

So what can companies and boards do? One step is to hear directly from the security chief, rather than a filtered version of their thoughts. And if you hear of another industry being attacked because of an open port, go straight to your IT department and make sure that port is closed at your company, so hackers can’t reuse methods. their attack on you.

And more than anything else, the panelists said, it’s important to realize that this isn’t just a concern about computer security. It’s something that affects every aspect of the company.

“If you believe this is an IT problem, your company has a problem,” says Edwards. “This is a business problem.”

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