Cyber Attack in US – Industries Impacted

Crime definition has seen phenomenal change from being physical to virtual. Today thieves and looters don’t need to be physically present to commit a crime. A mischievous program is sent out in an attractive   pack , with a simple intend to let the recipient know the inside details and gather confidential information kept wrapped under firewalls, antivirus and dozens of security layers. But, alas all goes in vain.

With things moving online from purchase to banking transactions, ordering your dinner to sharing your \pictures and when offices are global the work we do is also available on internet making it more prone to attacks. One point to note here is that internet came into existence to provide connectivity, and its security aspects were never ever designed which is one of the reason we are struggling with uncertainty.

The recent incident in US, where Sony industries were attacked and which was no less than a Hollywood mystery movie, raised a question. What all industries do we think could be impacted by the cyber crime?

What is Cyber-Crime?

Cyber crime could be defined as an illegitimate activity which is usually processed by the computer to result in may be denial of services, confidential data capturing or may be money loss. There are many forms of this crime from spamming, phishing to hacking. Across globe people are struggling to fight cyber-crime and provide safe and secure internet to people.

Cyber Criminal Psychology

What’s the reason that people commit crime? There are some of the key findings done on to know the exact reason of people committing cyber crime –

  1. Just For Fun – As a kid, we all might have done mischief which could lead to problem to others. The same goes to cyber attackers, you have the technology, you know you have magic in your hands and in case you got hold of some open ports or able to breach firewall, you could just wait and watch the pleasure.
  2. Anonymity – This is the most crucial aspect of internet, it could allow you to be anonymous, you might leave your finger prints but getting exact details would be a challenge.
  3. Law is bounded by boundaries – A person sitting in China may be able to get hold off network in Israel, now even though they catch the person its not possible for the Israel jurisdiction to get that man in Israel and punish him. So these legal boundaries again work in favor of the attacker.
  4. Tit for Tat – How often as individual we hold a grudge may be to neighbors for putting bin in front of our house or a drunkard shouting at midnight in front of your house. We are human and have a tendency to get bitter at times. The same goes for cyber attackers, I remember an incident in my previous organization when the man was fired, after a month we have seen some indecent mails sent to whole office which were revealing the dirty side of higher management.
  5. Personal Advantage – Attacking people’s bank accounts to get money transferred into your account is one of the personal advantage which hackers seek , while committing a crime.

Consequences of Cyber-Crime

As the human psychology differs each time the cyber attack is made, so are the consequences –

  • Denial Of Services – Cyber attack could lead to denial of services, as may be attackers get hold off your passwords and may lock them, giving a hard time to the IT guys to restore the services.
  • Money Loss – This is a very common affect, you may be hit by an email saying you won one million of prize from a reputed firm, and they just need your account details to transfer the money. Once you provide them and then it’s over, they may transfer whole of your funds to their account or create duplicate accounts which could also lead to degrade your credit score.
  • Business Trouble – So once you know, this firm accounts have been hacked, would you trust that brand? You wouldn’t right? So it affects the company in spoiling its reputation.
  • Affects Productivity – Due to increase in cyber crime, we always have to undergo so many security checks before purchasing any stuff, or before submitting your work online. So basically it affects our productive time firstly for people to set up the secured network and secondly for mass to abide the protocols.

Industries which could be impacted

As per the report from the Ponemon Institute for the year 2013, almost all industries have been impacted with cyber crime, and if we look at the cost in each of the industries the top three industries being Defense, Energy & Utilities and Financial Services.

hacking

Source: Ponemon Institute Research Report, 2013

Defense

Army, Navy or Air force, as a civilian we all know how significant is data confidentially for defense. And this exist from olden days, when kings used to go out for war and the war strategy was kept confidential. So just think about the damage the cyber attacker could cause if he gets hold off the records. And in fact, during 2009 to 2013, hacker attack was committed to get the manufacturing plans for fighter jets.

Financial services

Ok, so now this big one which impacts from an individual to money giants as well. As none of us keep the keep the cash in our locker[unless and until it is black money] and so if ever the attackers get hold off any details from the financial industries it would be affecting economy as a whole. The two giants in the industries Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Chase had to compromise with their data putting the customer’s financial information at risk.

Energy and Utilities

Energy industry basically comprise of industries providing and selling energy, so petroleum, oil and gas, coal industry, nuclear power industry, hydroelectric power, solar power, wind power, all these sub-sectors would fall under this category. The hackers even though can’t steal the energy/power itself but could lead to discontinue the services affecting the mass. Or maybe even rupture the plant itself causing more losses. There had been two of the cases registered where Westinghouse electric and one of public utility control system were accessed by hackers

Scientific Research

US are number one in stimulating research programs and many of this research have served to help their economy, living standards, and health benefits and also have been helpful in defense area. And so keeping such vital information under wrap is important. But in past we have seen the attack, In Oct 2013, Boston University reported an incident of being attacked by hackers, but it was unsuccessful which make this industry vulnerable to cyber crime.

Transportation

Reading the heading, this industry should be the least impacted by cyber crime, but you never know what’s going on in hackers mind. Transportation is the key to any economy, no matter what place you are your basic needs, your luxuries all need to be transported to the place you are. From the industries point of view, industry is setup somewhere and again it’s not necessary that raw material used by them would be available in adjacent building. They need people to ship it. From security perspective, our troops are usually at faraway places, now the basic supply of food, clothes and health is again carried for them via this industry. Criminals captured are transferred form one place to other via roads, banks transfers their money from one location to other and so on.So if we say, it’s kind of lifeline to us. And of the recent incident that happened was with the U.S Transportation Command or TRANSOM , in 2012 they were attacked multiple times and were successful in getting hold of documents, credentials, shipment details .

Services

The service industry which had outgrown in last decade in U.S is one of the economy boosters. As per the data collected for 2012 the industry had 760,000 firms with more than 7 million American employees to serve whole of the America and may be across globe as well. As a customer when we enroll to any service providing firm, we usually provide them our personal detail and depending upon the service, it could extend to providing professional, bank details or SSN number or health details and so on. If even a single firm is hacked, just look at the information and risk the individual might have. And yet again, security was breached for UPS stores, which was attacked by Backoff malware loosing customer and financial data.

Telecommunications

With internet arrival, we have connectivity across globe not just personally but professionally and to keep it intact we use all type of communication mode provided , where we often share our personal pictures – first birthday of your daughter or a confidential document which is password protected. So this sector is vital , and we trust them to provide a secure channel to our communication. And as the industry is struggling , there were few glitches seen where Yahoo mail was hacked, affecting  a million of users account and so was AT&T where attackers were successfully able to grab personal details along with SSN number.

Information Technology

The progressive sector, which every day is hit with new technologies and new acronyms be it Internet of Things or Cloud Technology. Apparently, this is the sector which is in very close view of attackers for simple reason that new technology invented may not have a concrete security perspective. The software giant Google[Gmail] and Apple[icloud] were also not left untouched by attackers.

Media Advertising and Entertainment

Piracy is one of the key example as how this sector had been hit and how adversely it had affected people to lose jobs and people going bankrupt.

Food and Agriculture

The simple mindset of attackers is , why to work hard to attack the big giants when even the smaller sector firms could provide us those information and that’s a simple reason why these sectors have been attacked and are still under threat of hackers. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and Dairy Queen International restaurants were attacked and user’; credit and debit card information was  stolen .

Health Care

The sector in a similar fashion to food and agriculture industry has been attacked to get user personal data and FBI did issues a warning to other health sector firms to guard against cyber attack.

To Wrap Up

The history repeats every now and then and as it has been proven that we all are under threat and need to device tough and concrete measures to guard against the cyber crime.

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