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Cybersecurity experts in danger as online threats now turn real

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  • 3 min read

Cybersecurity professionals are now on hackers’ radar and face tangible dangers linked to their online endeavours. A report by the Financial Times highlights the menacing dangers cybersecurity researchers face.

The harrowing development has thrust the cyber landscape into a dangerous new era, where virtual threats can quickly transform into tangible, real-life threatening risks, often targeting those at the forefront of defending against them.

Robert M Lee, CEO of Dragos, a cybersecurity firm, recalled a chilling example when a hacking group breached Dragos’s employee network and demanded a ransom which then escalated quickly to life-threatening messages to Lee and his family. The hacking group was known to resort to swatting — a malicious practice where the hackers phoned the authorities pretending to be victims of an armed attack and often promoted a SWAT action on the target’s home.

Beyond personal attacks, cybersecurity experts also contend with attempts to frame them. Instances where victims are coerced to send money to the accounts of cybersecurity professionals illustrate the sinister lengths some attackers will go to manipulate situations. These scenarios underscore the urgency to safeguard digital assets and private security.

Brian Krebs, a former journalist turned cybersecurity analyst, received a gram of heroin and a cross-shaped bouquet as a threat. These alarming revelations highlight a troubling trend of cybercriminals merging digital and real-world threats to instil fear and control.

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With a growing threat to their life and possessions, cybersecurity professionals have to take care of physical security along with cyber,

“We’re an organisation that calls out threat actors all the time, and so we have to think about our security from a company perspective, an individual perspective, and a physical perspective,” explained Charles Carmakal, CTO for Mandiant Consulting.

Carmakal also points out that the governments are not yet on this and that the individual groups threaten to harm cybersecurity researchers physically.

Not only in Western counties, cybersecurity researchers in Eastern Europe are not safe either. The researchers have come forward detailing how people have rifled their homes after they have been exposed to some hacker groups. The hackers have also tried to sabotage the relationship by sending doctored pictures of one spouse to another.

Cybersecurity researchers always try to keep calm and avoid provoking or mocking the hackers and keeping their reports confined to the technical aspects of the breach.

The researchers have emphasised that the need to adapt strategies to counteract these threats in terms of online behaviour and public exposure has never been more urgent.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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