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2015: Rise of the cybercriminals

Dendy Lukito, Manager, Forensic & Technology Advisory, Nexia TS Technology Pte Ltd | March 31, 2015
In the eyes of the cybercriminal, no organisation is too small to be a target.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

It seems like only yesterday that viruses and relatively unsophisticated hackers were accountable for most cybercrimes that were mostly trivial and not driven by malicious or materialistic intent. During that time, defending the organisation against cyber-attacks was as simple as deploying an anti-virus in the servers and workstation. Unfortunately, yesterday is a thing of the past. In 2013 alone, Ponemon Institute, World Bank, estimated the global cost of cybercrime to be a staggering US$113 billion.

Today, the technology landscape has evolved rapidly as a double-edged sword, offering more benefits and also greater risks for businesses. Concurrently, hackers have also sharpened their swords, acquired new techniques and honed their specialised skills. As businesses are moving towards global digitisation through the use of e-commerce, social media, mobile and cloud computing, the potential attack surfaces are invariably becoming much larger and unpredictable, and exposing gaps in cyber security that previously did not exist.

We must understand that hacking is like substance addiction; it fuels, but it never fully satisfies. Figuratively, hackers continuously challenge themselves to new highs, and therefore, individually and collectively, hackers have decided that cracking open a system and posting a message or disrupting files is no longer gratifying.

The game has moved on to stealing data, money and intellectual property from businesses, and since then cyber security has gone far beyond ‘just-another-IT-issue’. Cybercrime has become multi-dimensional and ever-changing, incalculable and real. The attacks can originate from virtually anywhere, target numerous levels of an organisation, and sometimes persist for months or years before an organisation is aware of an attack or breach.

The costs of cybercrime
Global Cyber Security Market Assessment 2014 by Frost & Sullivan indicated that cyber security threats are accelerating in terms of quantity and severity and with the cost of malware in pirated software alone estimated at US$491 billion in 2014, a robust cyber security strategy has become business-critical.

It is undeniable that cybercrime is costly for organisations. The cost of direct financial losses, combined with disrupted business operations, fines and penalties, and the cost to clean up and recover from an attack will slowly but surely add up; these are the tangibles. Arguably, more impactful and insidious is the resulting reputational and legal consequences of a cyber-attack which may be more severe than the attack itself.

Just like the tip of an iceberg, only a fraction of incidents have surfaced and have been made public. And the worst part is that there are companies that have fallen victim to cybercrime without the realisation of compromise to their customers’ personal data until it is too late, causing more damage to the company’s reputation and its customers’ trust.


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