Defining, Identifying and Limiting Cyber Crime

A vast amount of information is now stored on computer servers and databases, and it’s growing every day. Because that information has great value, hackers are constantly looking for ways to steal or destroy it.

Cyber crime is one of the fastest growing areas of criminal activity. It can be defined as any crime where:

  • A computer is the target of the crime
  • A computer is used to commit a crime
  • Evidence is stored primarily on a computer, in digital format

Types of Computer Intrusions

Computer intrusions can come from an internal source, such as a disgruntled employee with an intimate knowledge of the computer systems, or an external source, such as a hacker looking to steal or destroy a company’s intangible assets. Hackers use a variety of ways to steal or destroy your data:

  • Viruses – A virus is a small piece of software that attaches itself to a program currently on your computer. From there, it can attach itself to other programs and can manipulate data. Viruses can quickly spread from computer to computer, wreaking havoc the entire way. In the late 1990s, email viruses became a popular method for hackers to infect computers. These viruses were triggered when a person downloaded an infected document. When the document was opened, the virus would send that document to the first few recipients in the person’s email address book. Some email viruses were so powerful that many companies were forced to shut down their email servers until the virus was removed.
  • Worms – A worm is a computer program that can copy itself from machine to machine, using a machine’s processing time and a network’s bandwidth to completely bog down a system. Worms often exploit a security hole in some software or operating system, spreading very quickly and doing a lot of damage to a business.
  • Trojan horses – Common in email attachments, Trojans hide in otherwise harmless programs on a computer and, much like the Greek story, release themselves when you’re not expecting it. Trojans differ from viruses in that they must be introduced to the system by a user. A user can knowingly or unknowingly run an .exe file that will let a Trojan into the system.
  • Spyware – Spyware can be installed on a computer without the user ever knowing it, usually from downloading a file from an untrusted source. Spyware can be used by hackers to track browsing habits or, more importantly, collect personal information such as credit card numbers.
  • Logic bombs – Logic bombs are pieces of code that are set to trigger upon the happening of an event. For example, a logic bomb could be set to delete all the contents on a computer’s hard drive on a specific date. There are many examples of disgruntled employees creating logic bombs within their employer’s computer system. Needless to say, logic bombs can cause serious damage to a company’s digital assets.
  • Denial of Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks – DoS and DDoS attacks are used to send an overwhelming amount of data to a target server, rendering that server useless. A hacker does this by gaining control of several computers and then sending a large amount of data to a target server that can’t possibly handle it. The result could be thousands or millions of dollars in lost sales for an online retailer and a complete loss of productivity for many businesses.

Limiting Intrusions

A computer intrusion could put your valuable digital assets at risk. That’s why your company should have the following measures in place to limit computer intrusions and protect your assets:

  • Firewalls – Firewalls are pieces of software that control the incoming and outgoing network traffic on a computer system and decide whether it should be allowed through or not. Most computer operating systems now come with a preinstalled firewall for security. While they are not the be-all end-all of preventing intrusions, they are a reliable start.
  • Routers – Routers are pieces of hardware that keep unwanted traffic out of a computer system. They differ from firewalls in that they are standalone devices that must be bought separately–they are not included in an operating system.
  • Antivirus programs – As their name implies, antivirus programs are designed to catch and eliminate or quarantine viruses before they can harm a computer system. Antivirus programs run in the background to ensure your computer is protected at all times. While they are updated frequently, they may not catch the newest viruses that are floating around.
  • Policies – Every company, no matter its size, should have policies in place to educate employees on the dangers of computer intrusions and ways to prevent them. Make sure your employees know not to open, click on or download anything inside emails from untrusted sources. Employees with an intimate knowledge of the company’s computer network should also be alerted of the potential consequences of hacking into the system.
  • Common sense – Everyone claims to have it, but if that were actually the case, many viruses, worms and Trojans would cease to exist. The simple fact is that everyone in the company needs to exhibit some common sense when using a computer. Encourage employees to disregard emails with subject lines and attachments that seem bogus or too good to be true.

Review Your Risks and Coverage Options

A computer intrusion could cripple your company, costing you thousands or millions of dollars in lost sales and/or damages. Contact your broker today to ensure you have the proper coverage to protect your company against losses from computer intrusions.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

One in Four Hide Cybersecurity Incidents from Employers

Source: Canadian Underwriter

Forty per cent of employees around the globe hide IT security incidents to avoid punishment, according to a new report from cybersecurity company Kaspersky Laband market research company B2B International.

The report, titled Human Factor in IT Security: How Employees are Making Businesses Vulnerable from Within and released on Monday, also found that dishonesty is most challenging for larger sized businesses. Forty-five per cent of enterprises over 1,000 employees experience employees hiding cybersecurity incidents, with 42% of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and only 29% of very small businesses (under 49 employees).

The study involved 5,274 respondents around the globe.

Not only are employees hiding incidents, Kaspersky said in a press release, “uniformed or careless employees” are one of the most likely causes of a cybersecurity incident – only second to malware. While malware is becoming more and more sophisticated each day, the surprising reality is that the “evergreen” human factor can pose an even greater danger, the release said. Forty-six per cent of IT security incidents are caused by employees each year – nearly half of the business security issues faced triggered by employee behaviour.

Staff hiding the incidents that they have encountered may lead to dramatic consequences for businesses, increasing the overall damage caused, Kaspersky noted. Even one unreported event could indicate a much larger breach, and security teams need to be able to quickly identify the threats they are up against to choose the right mitigation tactics.

“The problem of hiding incidents should be communicated not only to employees, but also to top management and HR departments,” said Slava Borilin, security education program manager at Kaspersky Lab, in the release. “If employees are hiding incidents, there must be a reason why. In some cases, companies introduce strict, but unclear policies and put too much pressure on staff, warning them not to do this or that, or they will be held responsible if something goes wrong. Such policies foster fears, and leave employees with only one option — to avoid punishment whatever it takes. If your cybersecurity culture is positive, based on an educational approach instead of a restrictive one, from the top down, the results will be obvious.”

The fear businesses have of being put at risk from within is clear in the results of the survey, with the top three cybersecurity fears all related to human factors and employee behavior. Businesses worry the most about employees sharing inappropriate data via mobile devices (47%), the physical loss of mobile devices exposing their company to risk (46%) and the use of inappropriate IT resources by employees (44%).

While advanced hackers might always use custom-made malware and high-tech techniques to plan a heist, they will likely start with exploiting the easiest entry point – human nature, Kaspersky suggested. According to the research, every third (28%) targeted attack on businesses in the last year had phishing/social engineering at its source.

“Sophisticated targeted attacks do not happen to organizations every day – but conventional malware does strike at mass,” the release said. “Unfortunately though, the research also shows that even where malware is concerned, unaware and careless employees are also often involved, causing malware infections in more than half (53%) of incidents that occurred globally.”

“Cybercriminals often use employees as an entry point to get inside the corporate infrastructure. Phishing emails, weak passwords, fake calls from tech support – we’ve seen it all,” said David Jacoby, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab. “Even an ordinary flash card dropped in the office parking lot or near the secretary’s desk could compromise the entire network – all you need is someone inside, who doesn’t know about, or pay attention to security, and that device could easily be connected to the network where it could reap havoc.”