Just over thirty years ago, the world as we know it changed forever when the World Wide Web went public. Fast forward to today and most people can’t imagine what life was like before the internet. While the internet has been a catalyst for innovation and social change, it has also become a complex environment that continues to rapidly evolve. In the first part of this blog series, Unlocking the Internet: Insights from the Censys Internet Map, the most comprehensive, up-to-date collection of global internet infrastructure available, we will begin by exploring the evolution of the internet and cybersecurity.
The New Frontier
The nineties were formative years for the internet. Online marketplaces Amazon and eBay opened their digital doors. Google registered its domain. And by the end of the decade, an estimated 147 million people were accessing the internet on a weekly basis. It was a time of rapid innovation, but also a time when the term “cybersecurity” wasn’t even well known. And then, in 1999, the Melissa virus emerged, throwing us headlong into what would become a new era for digital security.
The Melissa virus was not just another bug; it was a mass mailing macro virus that used social engineering to entice users. Melissa disrupted more than 1 million email accounts and overloaded the servers of over 300 corporations and government agencies. The impact reverberated throughout the nation, triggering a full FBI investigation and even meriting discussions in Congress. The event was a watershed moment for the digital community and elevated awareness about the potential dangers of the internet.
Once we navigated past the scare of the Y2K bug, the internet continued its exponential growth. YouTube, MySpace, and Twitter became household names. Online advertising began to dominate the marketing world. And cyber threats evolved in both complexity and scale. Notably, a hacker by the name of Mafiaboy paralyzed high-traffic websites such as eBay, Amazon, CNN, Dell, and Yahoo with a series of denial-of-service attacks (DDoS). With the rise of cybercrime continuing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security founded the National Cyber Security Division (NCSD). The message was clear: the world was waking up to the reality that the internet, while a tool of immense opportunity, was also a landscape filled with vulnerabilities.
The Evolving Threat Landscape
Today, more than 60% of the world’s population is online. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without our cellphones and laptops. Just as rapidly as internet users have come online, cybercrime tactics have continued to evolve. With the digital landscape changing daily, cybersecurity has emerged as a critical business imperative. Today, the U.S. cybersecurity market alone is valued at over $150 billion. On the flip side, the cybercrime economy is also thriving, with its cost expected to exceed $8 trillion this year. The arms race between cybercriminals and cybersecurity professionals shows no signs of slowing down.
The internet has become a web of interconnected systems, devices and people, which are breeding grounds for vulnerabilities and exploitations. In this hyper-connected and ever-changing digital terrain, data-driven tools and insights are no longer a luxury but a necessity for security leaders.
This is where the Censys Internet Map comes into play. Founded by the creators of ZMap, the Censys Internet Map is the data foundation that powers the Censys Internet Intelligence Platform. Our industry leading data provides the most complete, contextual, and up-to-date index of hosts and services on the internet.
Wait, but what does that mean?
You may have heard the saying: you can’t protect what you can’t see. We like the way one of our customers put it, “Getting Censys is like getting brand new glasses…” In order to mitigate exposures and risks, security leaders have to be able to see what’s out there. Having an accurate and real-time view of the global internet is the only way to manage internet exposure, hunt down emerging threats and quickly detect compromise.
As demonstrated over the last 30 years, the internet moves quickly and so do we. As the only vendor conducting daily comprehensive scans of the top 100+ ports and research-backed machine learning discovery of services across all 65k ports, plus daily refreshes on all 3b+ services in our dataset, our internet coverage is second to none. But we don’t just scan the internet daily. Censys also provides detailed context to identify host types, understand how assets are configured and connected, providing our customers with detailed visibility into open ports and running protocols.
Security leaders can leverage the Censys Internet Map through Censys Search, Censys Exposure Management or Censys Data Downloads. The Censys Internet Map can also be applied to a wide range of applications to automate operations, enrich security tools, and more. This is an indispensable tool for anyone who needs to have full visibility into today’s continuously evolving digital landscape.
From the Melissa Virus in 1999 to the DDoS attacks by Mafiaboy, cybersecurity threats have evolved in complexity and scale. Today, organizations and individuals face a wide array of cyber threats—ranging from ransomware to state-sponsored attacks. As the internet continues to evolve, so does the urgency for robust security posture.
In the upcoming parts of this blog series, we’ll delve deeper into the actionable insights provided by the Censys Internet Map, how organizations are leveraging data for better security postures, and what the future might hold for cybersecurity.
Want to explore the Censys Internet Map today? You can access it for free at search.censys.io or reach out to a specialist to map your external attack surface and see what’s visible with Censys.