By: Sarah Torgueman | Business  | 

Cybersecurity: Battling Crime in Cyberspace

The threats posed by technology have grown. Identity theft, intrusive viruses, and malicious software are just a few of the danger’s lurking behind a person’s computer screen. But what’s most frightening is the fact that many users are unaware such dangers even exist.  

Cybercrime has increased tremendously, affecting not only individuals but business entities and their virtual transactions, as well. The internet has undoubtedly advanced global business, increased productivity and stimulated much growth. However, with such strides comes great risk. With society’s continuous advancement into the age of smart machines, internet crime has surged, triggering tremendous spending on cybersecurity.

According to Barbri Cyber Solutions, 64% of companies experienced web-based attacks and 59% experienced malicious code in 2017. To combat these attacks, projections for federal spending are estimated to reach about $1 billion on cybersecurity alone over the course of 2018. Moreover, Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that global spending on cybersecurity will exceed $1 trillion from 2017 to 2021. According to a Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, there will be about 50 to 200 billion connected devices in the United States by 2020. Without the necessary and proper security carried out by the cybersecurity industry, cybercrime damage costs are expected to reach $6 trillion annually by 2021, about $3 trillion more than in 2015.

According to CNN Money, nearly 1 million viruses and malicious software were created each day in 2015, totalling more than 317 million new threats. These figures have only grown over the last few years. Viruses and other malware are characteristic of the most widespread internet dangers. They consist of malicious digital activity and theft by targeting downloads, dropping files, integrating spyware, and setting passwords.

Additionally, cyber attackers have been sneaking malware into website codes. This infects entire computer browsers simply by visiting a website with malicious code, which is often hidden. Taiwan and Iran have been reported to have the highest concentration of these download pages, known as drive-by download websites. Luckily, web browsers monitor malware and may redirect web pages when suspicious content is detected.

According to the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), popular cyber crimes affecting businesses include identity theft, tax-refund fraud, and theft of intellectual property. In addition, corporate account takeover continues to affect company finances tremendously. Cybercriminals have stolen companies’ financial banking credentials and have stolen funds from their bank accounts. According to FDIC Cyber Fraud specialist, small and average sized businesses suffer a combined loss in the millions due to electronic fund transfer fraud.

Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report of 2017 highlighted cloud computing as the newest trend for cyber attackers targeting businesses. Cloud computing is a company’s use of a technology network of remote servers to store information and allow centralized access of data. More and more information is being saved and stored in the “cloud” through platforms such as iCloud by Apple and Google Drive by Google. This centralized data storage has prompted cyber attackers to break into a cloud account and access large amounts of company data and customer information. According to the report, cloud-based user account attacks have increased by 300% since 2016. One reason why such attacks are so common is because companies often create weak, guessable account passwords, which has made it possible for attackers to break into them.

Ransomware has been on the rise as well, disproportionately targeting businesses on the eastern hemisphere. It is characterized by malicious software that accesses digital files and disables them until money is paid to the attackers. Ransomware is a major threat to endpoint devices, which are any device remotely connected to a network. This enables attackers to gain direct access to company files. Hackers are now breaking into consumer products demanding ransoms totaling billions of dollars.

It seems like cyber attacks have disproportionately affected the healthcare industry. In fact, 94% of health organizations have been affected by cyber attacks, being locked out of company systems and having private information exposed. 88% of ransomware victims were notably in the healthcare industry and have recently cost the U.S. $2.6 billion.

Hackers are tech savvy and have been getting away with their attacks. Avivah Litan of the technology firm Gartner Group mentioned that less than 1 in 700 identity theft cyber crimes have led to arrest and emphasized that attackers stay ahead because once law enforcement agencies discover a virus, many more have already been developed and put to use.

Hackers have expanded their range of attacks and have developed new outlets for acquiring information. The increased number of businesses’ sponsored posts and advertisements on social media has left more room for security threats. Twitter and LinkedIn have both been victim to security breaches in the past, suggesting that information posted via social media outlets is not secure. Cybercriminals are reported to have also attacked smaller law firms or third-party entities who often represent larger corporations with many customers, accessing their information as a result.

The cybersecurity industry is working hard to address and mitigate the dangers posed by malicious software. Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, for example, has released two insurance policies to cover cyber liability, which includes costs companies may incur from responding to cyber threat. Firms are trying to use artificial intelligence and machine learning systems to better detect malicious and intrusive activities online. Nearly a third of cybersecurity startups founded in 2017 began focusing their security efforts toward medical devices and automotive systems.

By the end of 2017, there were over 400 active cybersecurity companies in Israel. 30 international corporations have cybersecurity related R&D centers located there as well. In January, Israel hosted a Cybertech conference in Tel Aviv, showcasing cyber technology outside of the U.S. Israel’s cybersecurity industry is expanding as investors pour their money into Israeli cybersecurity firms and startups. About 15% of global investment in the cybersecurity industry went towards Israeli firms, amounting to approximately $815 million.

Though constant efforts are carried out to minimize cyber dangers and more money is being devoted to preventing attacks, hackers continue to gain strength. As more and more people do business online, it remains ever-so crucial to protect yourself and your company from these growing risks.

How You Should Respond to Cyber Danger:

Avoid weak, guessable passwords

  • Don’t compromise your identity; create strong and secure passwords and routinely change them

Do not use public Wi-Fi hotspots

  • You’re opening the door for hackers to access your info and potentially lock you out of your accounts.

Watch what you post

  • Despite being on “private,” your posts are exposed.

Update your software

  • Platforms are constantly being improved to fix issues and provide the latest security developments.

Sign up for real-time alerts

  • Receiving real-time credit card and bank transaction info will allow you to detect unusual activity right away

Close accounts that have been tampered with