By JON CAMPISI, who has been a writer and editor for media outlets in the Philadelphia area.
With the cybercriminal enterprise known as Anonymous on the loose and wreaking havoc on computer systems the world over, questions over the integrity and security of companies with significant Web presence are more prevalent than ever.
Anonymous, which is credited with hacking into a teleconference between the FBI and international law enforcement officials in January, no doubt sends shivers up the spines of governments and businesses for whom Internet security is a critical factor in daily operations.
Then came news that VeriSign Inc., the company that delivers people to more than half of the websites in the world had been hacked, with an undisclosed amount of information being stolen.
If the company that runs the Internet's infrastructure can be hacked, is anyone safe?
In a recent article posted on his law firm's website, Cincinnati attorney Todd McMurtry, of Dressman, Benzinger LaVelle, mentions a report by the accounting firm Deloitte that talks about the increasing frequency with which cyberattacks are occurring in the digital age.
The Deloitte report concluded that hackers have been "outwitting" defenders and that an "underground economy has evolved around stealing data," McMurtry wrote. Another scary point is that hackers can infiltrate a business and then go undetected for months.
"The end result of such a crime would surely be both a catastrophic loss of reputation and potentially a fatal financial blow," the article stated.
One of the most important things a business can do in this day and age to protect itself against hacking incidents and other cyberattacks is to obtain the proper insurance, McMurtry suggested. These types of risks are not often covered by traditional insurance plans.
"Look for coverage for losses arising from data destruction, extortion, theft, hacking and denial-of-service attacks," he wrote. McMurtry also urged coverage arising from errors and omissions, failure to safeguard data and defamation.
Other steps businesses could take to ensure safety and security remain intact include destroying old computers, cell phones and other electronic storage devices to keep information from falling into the hands of criminals.
"While it appears that hackers like Anonymous have the upper hand and can attack at will, that does not mean that you or your company are completely vulnerable," he wrote.
Internet Identity, an Internet security company based in Washington state, warns that cybercriminals are only expected to become more sophisticated as technology itself advances.
On its website, the company said that hacking started out in the mid-1990s as "simple social engineering" to steal AOL account passwords, but that hacking has now grown into a multibillion-dollar industry that includes identity theft, monetary theft, money laundering, social and personal scams, extortion, industrial espionage and state-sponsored espionage.
Criminal techniques, the company states, include social engineering, malicious software, infrastructure hijacking and denial of service, most of which are carried out using "enormous botnet armies" that can overcome traditional cyber defenses.
While cybercrime is no doubt keeping private businesses busy, it also has caused an expansion of services and missions at the governmental level, especially when it comes to law enforcement.
The website FastCompany.com posted an article last week highlighting the new Global Complex for Innovation slated to be opened in 2014 by Interpol, the international policing organization. The center will function as a training facility and research lab for "all things cybercrime," the article stated.
Computer hacking activities would be just one focal point at the center; staff is also expected to work on combating child porn and creating low-cost cybercrime research databases for poorer nations, according to the article.
February 13, 2012
Copyright 2012© LRP Publications