Malware, or malicious software, is used or created by hackers to attack and disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information or gain access to private computer systems. Malware come in the form of worms, Trojan horses and viruses, to name a few, and can affect not just individuals but whole organizations. Over the years, people have become clued-up about protecting themselves, but more recently the trend has been towards fewer attacks of a more sophisticated nature for larger amounts of money, data and intellectual property.
So what are cybercrimes, who commits them and who is affected?
In a world of computers and the Internet, no one is safe from cybercrime. Organizations can be spied on via the Internet or experience cyber attacks, resulting in the theft of data and specific intellectual property. There are many ways for hackers to get into an organization’s systems and steal important information and they can remain undetected for long periods. Examples of these so called advanced persistent threats (APTs) were the 2009 Night Dragon attacks, directed at the oil and gas sector. Another way these sneaky hackers get in is by singling out employees who use social media on PCs, iPads and mobile phones.
Other targets are the financial services, retail and tourism sectors, where most transactions happen online. The aim is generally to gather bank details and personal identification numbers, although there are various other reasons why hackers might infiltrate a system.
For example, Government bodies have also had their networks compromised by ‘hacktivists’ intent on making social or political statements, such as the group that announced its intention to wipe out the NYSE.com, in support of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in October this year.
Equally, Bank of America, Visa, Mastercard and Paypal were involved during the Wikileaks saga in 2010, and Sony revealed that two of its products had been hacked in April this year, exposing credit card information and personal details of 70 million users. Unfortunately there are plenty more examples covering many industries and sectors.
Know your enemy and never be complacent (more…)