Cyber crime has been rising year after year, and it is not only the amount of attacks that are on the rise, it is also the type and sophistication that they are reaching that is worrying. Years ago the “attacks” were merely an action to show that the attackers could introduce or hack your system, like the old “ping-pong” or “redcode”. They would not destroy the system neither would they alter your data. It had more to do with the ego of the “evil” developers.
As technology progressed so did hackers…and also their expectations. They are not happy any longer with “just” recognition as they also want money…and the more the better. People would think that it is normal and just like in every other business or human activity there is always someone looking for the opportunity. Some people have “found” their niche business: the Cybercrime.
Someone could think that cybercrime is something geek and exploited by a bunch of youngsters with a lot of spare time and nothing else to do. Nothing further from reality: if there is a demand for business there is an offer…and there is a lot of demand, believe or not. There are now plenty of “firms” and “freelancers” willing to provide ad-hoc solutions for all sort of “customers”.
If you do some “little” research in the internet you will find “professionals” that can code for you almost any solution. However, the place to find the “bad guys” is the “Dark Web” (do not get confused with the “Deep Web”). Neither of them are accessible from your normal internet explorer, Chrome or similar tools. There are a number of tools that can give you ease access to those places (like TOR).
Word of caution: The aforementioned places are not suitable for the faint of heart. You can find interesting things and not all of them illegal. However, you may be trapped and hacked. Curiosity killed the cat and there are not many cats in those webs…
The menace is real
Let’s say that you are a “normal” person that only wants to take care of his/her business. There are a number of menaces and threats that you should be aware of as you can be a victim of any of them at any given time. These are the threats you will fight:
Maybe the oldest of all of them. It usually comes in the form of an email, asking people to reply either given them access to their bank accounts, asking them for money on behalf of someone else (impersonating the CEO or CFO of a company), the “good old” Nigerian email scam” or redirecting you to a web page that has been copied and resembles another legitimate place. Always look for translation errors, logos of bad quality or urls not starting with HTTPS. If in doubt (and you should always be), get in touch using your own ways with the business that is asking you for your money.
This is the sort of threat used very commonly against corporations. It usually comes as an attachment in an email. Once open and run it infects the computer, encrypting the hard disk. There is very little (next to nothing) that you can do. Unfortunately you either pay or give up your data. In order to avoid this attack there are a number of actions you must action URGENTLY (if you have not done so yet) in your company:
- Security training: People should be aware that attacks are real. Employees should be careful what messages they open and what attachments: Open only emails from people that you are expecting and be careful with those unknown.
- Implement an antivirus & anti malware: This is not an option, it is a must. There a number of options in the market but most of them will offer you some common functionalities: almost real time database update and possibility to quarantine attachments and files.
Under this category you can find the sort of software that can have many different “dysfunctions”:
- Showing adverts.
- Infecting your system with a virus.
- Use your computer for other purposes like datamining without your consent.
- Introduce spyware.
Most of the cases these “malwares” and/or virus are introduced via downloaded software. Be careful what you download, copy or pirate as this will give your computer away.
Competition is hard and if yoy fail they will have a chance to shine. This is what people hiring DDoS (Distributed denial-of-service) look for. What this sort of threat looks for is to bring down your web site, your e-commerce, your communications, etc…anything that can alter and affect your day-to-day business. If this attack is properly planned there are few things that can be done: secure your environment, ports, DNS, load balancers and servers (specially those providing dynamic information). Still, diversify and use resources that may seem costly at first (solutions in the cloud like Azure, Amazon and the likes) as it is more expensive not to be able to service your customers.
As I mentioned in another post, the question is not whether you will be attacked. The real question is: “Will you be ready when you are attacked?”. Those looking somewhere else will be victims sooner rather than later. You can not be prepared enough when you are securing your systems. We all know that security can be expensive, but it will be more expensive if you have to shut your business down if you have not been as careful as common sense demands. This is the key for everything: Common sense should drive your business in all areas.
One last thought: if you are not ready and do not have the experience or knowledge, get in touch with a security expert. Security is not something that can be taken lightly and the sofistication that the hackers with the Crime-as-a-Service use now is second to none. Security by itself is useless: it affects all areas across the business.