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Cyber Crime: What to look out for in 2017

Published on 05 May 17

Cyber Crime can have a significant impact on your business and comes in many forms. One of the main difficulties in guarding against it is that it is ever-evolving and therefore it remains hard to stay one step ahead of those looking to damage your business.

In this article, we examine what cyber crime is and what to look out for in the months ahead.
Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks
As consumers, we are all getting more used to the internet playing a bigger role in our home. The Internet of Things (IoT) means that theoretically anything which has an on/off switch can be connected to the internet and it’s becoming increasingly common to do so. The problem is that these items are usually not high tech and therefore have far less inbuilt security. That they can’t be patched for vulnerabilities makes them the perfect target for even low-level hackers.
In 2016 there was an example of these IoT devices being infected with malware and then used in a widespread Denial of Service (DDoS) attack which caused considerable disruption across the world. It’s likely that we will see more attacks like these as the use of IoT devices increases still further.
You may already have been targeted by spear-phishers and this trend is only set to continue. Old-school phishing relied on people clicking a link in an email or downloading an attachment from a person or business they didn’t recognise. As web users have got increasingly savvy, we have all become more cautious when we get an email from an unknown source. The hackers have therefore switched tactics and spear-phishing instead masks itself behind the names of contacts we are already familiar with, maybe a trusted company such as a bank or even a friend or colleague. These emails are not poorly written as original phishing emails often were. Instead, the creators have been careful to generate content which looks genuine and is in many ways highly sophisticated. This sophistication makes it far more difficult to guard against and the emails will often end up in our inbox as the spam filter will rarely block them.
Ransomware continues to be one of the most prevalent forms of cyber-crime in 2017. Ransomware uses malware to encrypt the data on a person’s computer and then dangles the key to that encryption in front of them, but only if they pay the price. Unfortunately for those users who do pay, they often find their computer is not unlocked and they are left still unable to access their data, and poorer in the pocket.
In 2017 it is expected that incidences of ransomware will rise and it will also move on from computers to mobile devices, smart TVs and other household items.
Data Manipulation
While data theft is bad enough, a new evolution on the horizon looks likely to be data manipulation. This is where hackers gain access to your company information, not just to steal it, but to change it in some way. This can cause long term damage to the reputation of a business as if the integrity of the data it holds is in question it is likely to see its trust factor slide. Furthermore, the business itself could make decisions based on faulty data, financial or otherwise, and this could have catastrophic implications for its future viability.
What Can Be Done
The fight against cyber-crime is one which is only in its infancy and it is going to need tighter regulations if it’s a fight which can be won. For businesses it’s important to assess vulnerabilities and then take action to train your staff and put procedures in place to limit your risk as much as possible. However, nothing is infallible and one of the big trends we will see in 2017 and beyond is the use of cyber-crime insurance, to offer some level of reassurance should the worst happen.
This blog is listed under IT Security & Architecture Community

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