Cybercrime is alive and well

A recent report by Intel, owner of web security firm McAfee, observed that a large number of companies, and individuals, continue to ignore the risks associated with weak Internet passwords.

The report suggested that people may be “playing the odds” by believing that their own risks are relatively small. It may also be that they simply don’t want to spend the money to pay for computer support or advice.

More surprising, to McAfee at least, has been the rapid development of cybercrime into a fully-fledged industry with “suppliers, markets, service providers (“cybercrime as a service”), financing, trading systems, and a proliferation of business models”.

The growth of this industry has been fuelled by the use of crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and the protective cloak for criminals provided by technologies like Tor).
The sophistication of the cybercrime industry has led to changes in the focus of criminals away from simply stealing credit cards to the perhaps more lucrative, large-scale implementation of “ransom ware”. This has ranged from encrypting the contents of a user’s computer as happened to a Gold Coast Medical Centre and then demanding payment to unlock it, to the recent exploit of users caught up in the publishing of personal sexual information from the Ashley Madison dating site.

What hasn’t happened yet is widespread hacking of mobile phones. Part of the reason for this has been Apple’s, and increasingly Google’s, approach of controlling the software that can be installed on the devices. The other reason is that these devices are backed up more frequently and automatically, making recovery a much easier option.

This has demonstrated that the restrictions on the software that can run on Apple and Android phones is actually a major security feature.

Along with mobile phones, smart devices that make up the Internet of Things have also been relatively free of large-scale hacks. Researchers have demonstrated that it is possible to hack things like cars, including being able to apply the brakes of a car by sending the control system of the vehicle an SMS.

In the case of this type of vulnerabilities, car manufacturers have moved to plug security holes quickly. The fact that criminals haven’t turned their attention to smart devices however is probably because of the lack of means of commercialising these types of compromises.

Cyber insurance won’t eliminate cyber-crime but it will get your business back on its feet. Talk to your Insurance House broker to learn more and check out our video

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