The G20 summit reconvened this year in Hangzhou, China, where leaders from 20 countries representing an estimated 85 percent of the world’s gross domestic product, met to discuss some of the most pressing international issues, The Sun reported.
At the center of it were talks about the fallout from Brexit, the European migrant situation and discussions on the turbulent political situations in the Middle East. But missing from the meeting was a focus on cybersecurity, which has become an epidemic across the world.
Senators want talks
With the Democratic Party email hack still fresh in everyone’s memory, cybersecurity was thought to play some role in the discussion. Over the past few years, there have been incidents that gained international notoriety due to the origin of the attacks, and it seems as though the world is beginning to step up its defensive measures.
Ahead of President Barack Obama’s departure for the summit, Reuters reported that six U.S. senators penned a letter asking the president to make cybersecurity a priority. This came days after a Bangladeshi bank was robbed for $81 million. The focus was on cybersecurity in financial institutions, as the global economy from a digital perspective is increasingly vulnerable.
“Our financial institutions are connected in order to facilitate global commerce, but cyber criminals – whether independent or state-sponsored – imperil this international system in a way few threats have,” the senators, headed by Gary Peters of Michigan, wrote.
While these discussions about computer and hard drive safety usually touch on ransomware, malware or other types of viruses, these aren’t the only dangers threatening the financial sector’s security. Although a number of laws surround data safety in the industry, such as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, many institutions may fail to realize the risk surrounding old or retired electronic media.
Cybersecurity is in the international spotlight.
Degaussing should be at the forefront of discussion
When computers are taken offline, the data they stored doesn’t just disappear. If improperly disposed of, hard drives could easily end up in the hands of people who can extract the information stored inside. This is why a degausser must be used to demagnetize the media and erase it from existence.
A potential data breach situation was profiled in a joint study conducted by researchers at U.K. telecoms company BT, the University of Glamorgan in Wales, the University in Perth in Australia, and Longwood University in Virginia, U.S., according to New Scientist.
“Just two-thirds of hard drives had information erased.”
The report found just 67 percent of the hard drives that researchers bought through various outlets, such as in an electronics store, from an owner or via the web, had their data completely erased. If a financial institution were to fall in the minority of this pool, the results would be devastatingly similar to some of the major breaches that have already occurred. Not only do these firms have access to bank accounts and credit cards, but personal and confidential information as well.
While politicians are supporting a movement toward better cybersecurity, it’s often easy to forget that there’s another area full of potential risks. Degaussing isn’t as popular a cybersecurity term as hacking, but it’s the only method approved by the National Security Agency for data erasure. The lack of awareness for the trove of information in discarded hard drives left behind for cybercriminals to breach is concerning to say the least, and incredibly dangerous if taken advantage of.
Although Obama did not discuss cybersecurity at the G20 summit, it’s excellent news for the entire industry to hear that it’s gaining traction among world leaders. With an economy built digitally, protecting data will be key to success moving forward.