Criminals Availing in Cyberspace
Security breaches among major companies such as Target, eBay, and Neiman Marcus dominated news headlines this past year and led many to wonder about the safety of the information stored with organizations throughout the United States. The statistics from the May 2014 US State of Cybercrime Survey are far from reassuring.
The survey, a combined effort of PwC, CSO magazine, the CERT Division of the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, and the US Secret Service, states that the number of cybercrime incidents and the fiscal losses they incur are rapidly rising. The findings reveal that this is mainly because the companies could not adequately defend themselves from cyber-attacks. According to the 2014 survey, the top five methods for cyber-attacks involve malware, phishing (the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames or passwords), network interruption, spyware, and denial-of-services attacks.
The report covered information from 500 different corporations and government agencies, including law enforcement, and stated that “three out of four had had some kind of security breach just in the last year, and the average number of incidents per organization was 135.”
Fourteen percent of those surveyed reported that monetary losses attributed to cybercrime have increased in the past year. The actual costs are generally not known, as the majority of those who reported a cyber attack were unable to estimate the associated financial costs. Of the few survey respondents that could, the average yearly loss was around $415,000. Businesses are beginning to feel that cyber security is an issue that is out of their control and that cyber attacks are costing them an increasing amount of money.
Why the Rising Rate?
One of the major problems associated with the rising rate of cybercrime is that few companies, only 38% according to the survey, are adequately prepared to combat cybercrime. These rising rates are not simply due to inadequate defenses, but also increasingly sophisticated techniques used by cyber criminals. According to an article on Time.com, the most pertinent threats to cyber security in the United States come from Syria, Iran, China and Russia.
There are two kinds of big companies in the United States: those who’ve been hacked by the Chinese and those who don’t yet know that they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.
-FBI Director James Comey
The 2014 report lists major reasons why these attacks are on the rise. It claims that a few reasons are that most organizations do not spend enough on cybersecurity and do not properly understand cyber security risks. According to the survey, there is also a lack of collaboration among companies that have experienced a breach or other form of cyber attack, specifically that “82% of companies with strong protection against cybercrime collaborate with others to strengthen their defenses.” Other pertinent issues leading to increased cybercrime are insufficient security of mobile devices and lack of proper evaluation of attacks within organizations.
What can be Done to Lower the Rate of Cyber Attacks?
According to the 2014 survey, one major way for corporations and agencies to prevent cybercrime is through company-wide employee training which has been shown to be effective but is no currently used frequently enough. According to an article on CSO’s website, many organizations aren’t running information security training programs that are up to date. The 2014 survey recommends that the main focus of companies should be protecting the private financial information of their consumers. Perhaps as companies continue to strengthen the efforts of their cybersecurities, the rate of attacks from online adversaries will begin to lower, causing the 2015 report to reflect a decrease in cybercrime.
Marisa Mostek (@MarisaJ44) loves globetrotting and writing, so she is living the dream by writing while living abroad in Japan and working as an English teacher. Marisa received her undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado in Boulder and a certificate in journalism from UCLA. Contact Marisa at staff@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [geralt via Pixabay]