It’s been a busy month for cyber criminals
In November alone we’ve seen :-
- A small manufacturing business in Onehunga was infected by ransomware (unfortunately just as we were moving them onto our KARE system – if only that had started a few weeks earlier, we could have prevented it!) – cost $5,000 US in Bitcoins.
- A reasonable sized kiwi construction firm had their invoices intercepted through a compromised email account. Through a series of rules and forwards the hacker had intercepted two invoices (in total, they were well over $500K) and told the invoice recipients (our client’s clients) that the banking details had changed. The end client responded and told them the payment would be made that day – luckily our systems detected this and we were able to help the client intervene.
- A top-flight service business had their CEO’s email account compromised and fake emails sent to their CFO requesting (fake) payments. The hackers had again used rules and forwards to hide their footprints. In this case, cyber security awareness by the CFO prevented the attack from being successful
Our experience mirrors reported figures
Latest figures tell us that cyber-crime is now worth over of the word’s economic GDP value. In February it was reported at US$600B, 1% of the global economy – Unfortunately it continues to grow – by July it had increased to over US$800B! In fact, at a conference I attended in the US in November, we were told it was 7%, that 49% of SME’s had experienced some form of attack, at 60% of these businesses then failed within 6 months.
Personally, I think there is some hyperbole there, but even so, it’s pretty clear that this is a major problem, it’s real and we’re seeing it in NZ.
So that’s why! There is significant money at stake
It’s worth the hackers while to take the time to really target businesses individually, work out who the various office
holders are, and to be very specific.
These are very sophisticated crimes, and there is normally more than one ‘vector’ for the attack – the hackers have to figure out who within the business to target. So they might gather intel from your website, your LinkedIn or other social media profile, search the internet, pick up details from those business cards you leave at various tradeshows, buy or steal someone’s marketing database or even just ring your businesses main phone number.
Once they know who to target, a determined hacker will try several different ways to trick you. The reality is that while they are targeting smart people, these are also very busy people and they only need you to drop your guard for an instant. They’ll try phishing you, they’ll try getting a keylogger on your PC (even your home PC or your phone), they’ll guess passwords based on profiling you – they are relentless. Your best defence is a complex, long and unique password and we’ll shortly be offering a tool as part of Kare for Security that will help you maintain these.
So, what can we do about it?
Firstly, there are no sure-fire solutions. The threats are constantly evolving, and no one can promise an absolute protection. In the same way that a 5-star safety rating in your car doesn’t promise you won’t be hurt in an accident, or a burglar alarm doesn’t promise you won’t be robbed, there are likewise no cast-iron solutions to cyber-security.
However, like these examples, there are practical steps we can take to reduce your risk. Security is built on layers, and the more layers you have, the less the risk you are exposed to. It’s about taking reasonable steps, and what’s reasonable will differ from one organisation to another.
- The first layer is tried and test – good backups checked daily, up-to-date antivirus, and Windows and Office updates alongside all common software – which are part of our KARE Core Fundamentals and Premium KARE services.
- Next, we can now add new tools – multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection for email, web link protection, deepscan testing, phishing tests, user rights alerts, pwning alerts and above all, more awareness training in person and electronically. We’ve bundled these, and more, into our KARE for Security service. These reflect us fighting these new threats with new tools and processes, and we would now regard these tools as something pretty much every business should be adopting.
- Some clients will need to go even further, and for them, we can bring in a ‘SOC’ -Security Operations Centre, and actively start to chase back to intruders.
Each of these steps reduce risk but add cost and in some cases, inconvenience. But they are increasingly necessary. Cyber security insurance is starting to require organisations to step up their levels of protection before they will offer cover, and we’re reflecting that in our approach. We are committed to continuing to develop these tools, to remain up to date and to certify our team to provide our clients with the right solutions.