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A Look at Cyber Crime

Tuesday, August 30, 2016
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Cyber crime is any illegal activity conducted via the internet, a computer or computer network. The U.S. Department of Justice calls it “one of the greatest threats facing our country” with tremendous implications for our national security, economic prosperity, and public safety.

Cyber crime is theft of important or protected information against an individual or business. It could be personal information, bank account information, social security numbers—anything that could end up harming an individual or business one way or another. The breadth of cyber crimes ranges from social media scams to attacks on IT infrastructure systems. And the kinds of attacks grow and change daily, leaving companies increasingly vulnerable.

Right now, phishing scams are the No. 1 cyber threat. There a lot of fake emails coming into businesses. Somebody poses as an important person in the organization and asks that money be sent to a certain location—like a CEO asking that payment is sent to a vendor. Believe it or not, some people are falling for it and sending payment.

Here’s a brief explanation of four common cyber attacks aimed at businesses:
  • Phishing Scams – Phishers pretend to be legitimate companies and use spam, fake websites, emails, and instant messages so they can fool people into handing over sensitive information or clicking on a malicious link. Spear-phishing, a new twist on phishing, is an email that appears to be from a person or company you know asking for information, such as bank account numbers, passwords, financial information, and so on. More than 1,250 brands were hijacked by phishers in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Phishing Activity Trends Report published by the Anti-Phishing Working Group.
  • Malware – An abbreviated term for “malicious software,” the intent of malware is to damage or disable computers or computer systems – often for the purpose of extracting a ransom. It’s a comprehensive term for a variety of threats, including computer viruses, Trojan horses, adware, spyware, and worms. Malware is typically introduced to a company’s computer system via email attachments, downloads, or operating system vulnerabilities. Symantec reports that the rate of malware sent to companies with less than 250 employees is one out of 184; that figure rises to one out of 82 for companies with 251 to 500 employees.
  • Password Hacking – As the name suggests, this occurs when a con artist attempts to access your systems by figuring out your password. More than 90 percent of user-generated passwords are vulnerable, according to a 2013 report by global consulting firm Deloitte.
  • Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks – Hackers disrupt service to your company’s network by sending high volumes of data or traffic through the network, thereby overloading it. For many companies, that means business comes to an abrupt halt, which can cause thousands of dollars in lost revenue depending upon the company and length of disruption. DDoS attacks are on the rise, increasing 23 percent in the first quarter of 2016, according to the Q1 2016 State of the Internet/Security Report by Akamai Technologies.

© 2016 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.

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