In his more than two decades in cybersecurity, Joseph Steinberg said the stakes of his job have grown immensely.
The role used to mean simply preventing hackers from infiltrating websites and networks in a quest to leave their mark; now, cybersecurity specialists such as Steinberg are responsible for protecting billions of dollars' worth of critical information and money amid heightened threats.
"It used to be mischievous types of attacks," Steinberg, chief executive officer of Green Armor Solutions, told ITTechNewsDaily. "Today, there is a totally different range of threats."
At the forefront are attacks on websites, with hackers scouring online sites for critical company data and access to private customer information, including credit card numbers.
"Now (hacking) has become a vehicle for good old-fashioned theft," Steinberg said.
The importance of cybersecurity isn't going unnoticed by the Department of Homeland Security, which has partnered with the National Cyber Security Alliance to declare October National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
Now in its eighth year, the observance is designed to educate Americans about cybersecurity, and increase the resiliency of the nation and its cyber infrastructure.
Steinberg, whose IT company offers authentication software that helps businesses secure access to online systems from computers and mobile devices, said a quick online search will bring up a number of step-by-step toolkits teaching would-be hackers the tricks of the trade.
"It is a lot easier to hack today," Steinberg said. "Against sites that aren't well-protected, these toolkits have been successful."
The Internet's infiltration of the globe — and its reach to many underdeveloped nations — also has increased hacking.
"You have hackers in all of these areas, and they are pretty sophisticated," Steinberg said.
And cybersecurity is no longer just a problem for large corporations, he said. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of small businesses, whose security isn't always up to par, falling victim to cyberattacks.
"Many criminals are going to target the little guy," Steinberg said.
Previous studies have indicated an IT security breach can cost more than $200 per record. With that in mind, Steinberg said there are a number of things business owners and individuals should be doing to ensure the security of their online information.
He suggests business owners have an outside expert look over their system to see where they are most vulnerable. Additionally, he suggested that businesses put stringent controls on which employees have access to which information, and ensure all critical information is encrypted.
"It doesn't guarantee it won't be accessed, but it makes it less likely," Steinberg said.
Moving forward, Steinberg said securing mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets will pose the most challenges for IT security professionals.
"That is where the problems are going to occur," Steinberg said.