Cyber attacks, hackers, and even vigilante attacks have become the new norm and have emerged as the new criminal in this new sophisticated crime game. It is important to understand players in this dangerous game.
First, we must realize there is nothing glorifying about these hackers, these sophisticated criminals. At InfoTech we have been fighting IT crime for years now, to protect our clients. As these attacks become more mainstream, it is important to eliminate these offenders, understand their motives and do what we can to safeguard against these criminals.
Over the next few months I will send briefs expanding on the various categories of the IT criminals. It is important to understand generic categories which the IT hackers fall into.
This is a new group we encountered this year with the most noticeable hacking event, the Ashley Madison site which provided a venue for adultery and the hacker’s main demand was to shut down the site. (See the interview on Ashley Madison here). While these moral attackers’ mission was to expose immoral activity, they ended up causing more harm than good. Their actions resulted in embarrassment, family destruction and in severe cases linked to multiple suicides.
These are individuals and organizations that specialize in taking over other consumers identity performing financial transactions on their behalf, taking loans on their behalf, and eventually bankrupt the individual and organization which their identity they assume. In most cases, the bankrupt individual or organization are not even aware about it until the government or the collectors are at their door or their establishment. The road to redemption for these victims is so long and painful which may take years, which in the process the victims lose their jobs, their assets, and their families. The government has yet to step in and offer salvation for these people.
These are usually individuals or small groups that prey on people with poor security on their computer systems and in many cases, end up hurting the victims by stealing money from their bank accounts or via other financial schemes.
These are normally larger groups specializing in industrial espionage hacking businesses and stealing information, ranging from client information, HR information, information about contract and deals, and bank information. Business and industrial espionage have been so “successful” that it has been said that the 70 percent of the companies hit by this form of malice will be out of the business within the 6 months of the initial intrusion.
In this category, one of the leading perpetrators has been Cryptolocker, a ransom virus would basically take over your system and demand that a ransom payment be made via Bitcoins within a certain time frame or your system will be damaged forever. It is a cyber version of taking hostages for money.
This category is building up to be the new weapon of mass destruction of the world. Every major country including the US today maintains large organizations to protect its facilities and infrastructure. The countries also maintain open channels to attack the facilities and infrastructures of other countries. Cyber attacks aren’t as aggressive as an atomic or hydrogen bomb, but the damage of a cyber attack can also be detrimental. The contamination of water systems, the shutdown of steam and electrical systems, rerouting food supplies and others can be just as devastating. It is truly the new weapon of mass destruction. (See the interview with Edward Berliner here)
Given the malice and catastrophic events that can transpire from a cyber attack, these IT hackers should not be glorified. At times, the public views certain cyber attackers as the new Robin Hood due to the ongoing frustration with the government and large institutions who offer no protection to the victim of cyber attacks, however, it is important to truly understand how devastating these attacks can become. (See the interview on the airplane control scam here)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. More will follow.