This October marks the 12th annual National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Amid the daily headlines about massive data breaches and dire warnings about individual identity theft and scams of every ilk, it could be said that we're finally getting the message about cyber crime and taking action.

We're more aware that phishing is different than fishing. We're safeguarding our passwords, upgrading our antivirus software and deleting spam. (For more tips, check out Cyber security Reality Check: 6 No-Brainer Tips.)

Still, according to the latest Internet Security Threat Report published annually by Symantec, the need for both individuals and organizations to be vigilant and proactive is more urgent than ever. The report states that in 2014:

  • Data breaches increased by 23 percent.
  • Ransomware got nastier and grew by 113 percent; 45 times more people had their devices held hostage last year than in 2013.
  • 17 percent of all Android apps (nearly one million) were malware in disguise.
  • 70 percent of all social media scams were manually shared.
  • 348 million identities were exposed by 312 breaches.

The future of cyber crime

Given the continually evolving malware landscape – and with cyber criminals becoming more stealth and more sophisticated – what does the future hold?

Will creepware – using Internet-connected webcams to spy on people – increase?

Will the data stored on personal health devices like FitBits be hacked in the years to come?

Could a malicious app on your phone become a potential medium for attacking your car?

What about the hacking of medical devices? Insulin pumps, defibrillators and pace makers?


Meet Dr. Marwan Omar


Dr. Marwan Omar is assistant professor of computer science at Saint Leo. Originally from the small town of Khansor in northern Iraq, he served as a volunteer interpreter and cultural advisor to the U.S. Army. After graduating from the University of Mosul, he became an IT technician for the Army base commander, in addition to supporting the IT training initiatives of Iraqi Army officers.

Upon immigrating to the United States, Dr. Omar held positions in the IT industry and in academia before joining Saint Leo this fall. An expert in the area of smart phone security and defending Android-based smart phones against emerging malware attacks, Dr. Omar teaches undergraduate computer science courses at University Campus, in addition to courses in Saint Leo's online master's program in cyber security.

5 questions about the future of cyber crime

In this video, Dr. Omar answers five questions about the evolution of cyber crime and the increasing need for cyber security specialists.

You can watch the interview in its entirety or click on a question and go directly to that response.


National Cyber Security Awareness Month


This post is one in a series in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Since 2004, the Department of Homeland Defense and the National Cyber Security Alliance have designated October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month. For more information, visit

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

5 Reasons SLU's Cyber security Degree is Right for You

Your Career in Cyber security

Ethical Hacking: Do You Have What It Takes?

Ransomware: Kidnapping in Cyberspace

Image credits: alexskopje on and courtesy Dr. Omar

Video credit: Mike Dadez, Saint Leo University