2012 the year of the Cyber Attack

Will 2012 be the biggest year for Cyber Risks?

Why 2012 Will Be Cyber Risks biggest Year

2012 is turning out to be one of the worst for cyber attacks already. Why is this the case?

Hacking against prominent firms are taking place nearly every week. Credit card fraud and piracy on the Internet are booming. “Hacktivist” attacks against government computers and private companies are occurring almost daily. Government agencies and businesses everywhere are spending to improve their Cyber Security. For all businesses dependant on the internet it is a huge issue.

No one can really explain why cyber crime is booming. According to a recent Norton study, cybercrime cost the global economy (in both direct damage and lost productivity time) $388 billion in 2011. This is significantly more than the global black market for marijuana, cocaine, and heroin combined. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security have reported exponentially increasing demand for cybercrime assistance–something confirmed by this reporter in anecdotal discussions with online security experts.

Experts all have a different theory. Some say it’s due to a global economy that’s putting programmers out of work and turning them rogue. Others say it’s the easy availability of computers in poor regions of the world where job prospects are few. Then others say it’s simply that scripts and DDoS attacks have democratized cybercrime.

DDoS attacks and botnets are some of the biggest problems. Most DDoS attacks are amazingly simplistic. They are denial-of-service attacks frequently made through software that requires no programming or IT knowledge.  Botnets are impromptu networks of Internet-connected computers turned rogue using malware. Once a computer is compromised, they can be used for everything from financial fraud to causing websites to go offline.

Then there are hacktivists such as Anonymous. ‘Hacktivism’ is now a new term culminating in one of the most active periods of cyber attacks in the history of information security. With the success of attacks such as Sony in 2011, it is expected that even more hacktivists will enter the scene and cause much more malicious activity in the future.

While the idea that politicised groups such as Anonymous are malicious and/or criminals is debatable, many security experts agree that hacktivists can be compared to radicals who plant bombs and cause destruction in the name of ideology.

In China, American businesspeople, consultants, and politicians working there handle the risks by avoiding bringing their work computers into the country. They use throwaway mobile phones, to name the most common tricks in order to avoid the loss of business secrets to state-sponsored corporate spies. While China is the most blatant nation-state to engage in spying on foreign businesses for the benefit of home grown companies, it isn’t uncommon. Russia, France, Israel, Taiwan, and others have also have been  engaged in the process.

The use of malware and worms is continuing with increased regularity. While they remain common, little innovation has made it into the mass criminal market the truly unique manifestations are only isolated creations of genius rogue programmers.  Some say the last major threat of 2012 is cyber warfare. Anonymous has successfully transformed from their humble prankster beginnings at 4chan into an international movement.

There are also other organizations such as LulzSec and many more that are successfully coming up with cutting-edge prank attacks on high-profile targets. Hackers such as Anonymous will increasingly see their methods used by many other groups looking to inflict harm on other Country’s Governments or their businesses.

Cyber Risks will be the growth risk for many businesses to deal with this year. Are you managing this risk effectively?