Cyber-attacks are at an all-time high and don’t look to be slowing down anytime soon; just in the last month, security breaches have affected 1 billion people. 25-year veteran of the cyber security industry Thierry LeVasseur, a pioneer in the world of digital technology and email security, explains why security measures are now more important than ever before.

Q. You’ve talked extensively about email security, but recently, more data has become available regarding smartphones and increased security risks associated with them. Can you discuss those risks?

Thierry LeVasseur: Security issues surrounding smart phones should most certainly be discussed. There are many reasons why security measures must be taken, the largest being that more activity is occurring on mobile phones. People are making more purchases on their cell phones, and it is sometimes difficult to detect vulnerabilities. Hackers can steal credit card information through applications, glitches in mobile payment services and unsecured networks.

Q. Are there increased security risks associated with social media? If so, what do those “look” like?

Thierry LeVasseur: Absolutely. Like any other cyber-attack, the method varies from hacker to hacker. Some use reconnaissance; basically, gathering information from a brand or person, and then create fake profiles impersonating someone from that brand (or as someone a person might know.) That information can also be used to construct phishing emails since people are more likely to open emails and click on links from those whom they share commonalities. Another common method hackers use is weaponization, which is creating a fake account and linking to other fake accounts in order to appear more legit.

Q. It appears passwords are the gateway for many cyber-attacks. Do you see that vulnerability improving, or will passwords eventually become obsolete?

Thierry LeVasseur: I think all the signs point towards fingerprint access becoming the norm. There are authentication tools such as facial recognition and smartphone proximity that are also gaining popularity. Another interesting authentication method is the two-factor authentication security keys. It pairs a password with a physical security key; that way if a hacker gains access to your password, they still will not be able to steal information unless they also had the physical key.

Q. Do you think emails are still being hacked, or has that been moved to the back burner as social media platforms seem to be taking over more of our lives?

Thierry LeVasseur: Emails are very much so still being hacked. Over half of corporations have had a virus disaster, and six major viruses in the past five years have resulted in $20 billion in estimated global costs. I think it’s incredibly important that businesses ensure their data and communications are secure. Employees and clients trust that their companies have invested time and resources into making sure platforms are safe.

Q. What are some suggestions for employers who want to protect their employees and their information?

Thierry LeVasseur: It’s important for employers to stay vigilant in combating cyber-attacks. In 2017, the FBI released information that said business email phishing had cost companies over $675 million. Sure, there are steps that employees can take to protect themselves – not entering personal information in unsecure networks, checking sources, etc. – but a huge responsibility lies with the organizations to protect their employees.

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