Internet Criminals Targeting Smaller Companies

Last week Sony announced that its PlayStation Network fell victim to hackers. This was embarrassing for the company, worrisome for gamers and just proved that big companies remain targets. But last week Verizon also released its annual Data Breach Investigation and there was good news and bad news.
The good was that cyber criminals were far less successful in 2010, with the amount of data that was obtained or compromised falling dramatically last year. One reason cited is that law enforcement has begun to crack down on cyber crime, with one individual receiving a 20-year prison sentence last year. In total the Secret Service arrested more than 1,200 suspects last year for cyber crime violations.
So what’s the bad news? Instead of targeting large companies, it seems the new breed of cyber criminals is going after smaller companies that tend to be less well-guarded. According to reports, about 40 percent of the breaches were in the hospitality industry, 25 percent in retail and 22 percent in financial services.
Attacks against small business have been on the rise since 2008, and in according to a recent report from KnowBe4 in 2009 cyber criminals extracted nearly $400,000 from a Florida dentist’s account! Talk about a painful extraction.
But it was also a savvy style of attack, where Robert Thousand Jr. received thousands of calls to his business, home and mobile phones. These calls consisted of 30-second long recorded messages from a sex hotline – and these were done to keep Thousand’s phone lines tied up while cyber criminals made five transfers totaling $399,000 from a TD Ameritrade retirement account.
Cyber criminals also targeted lawyer Kimberly Graus, bypassing her anti-virus software to initiate $35,000 in wire transfers from a trust fund she managed. She was likely the victim of a phishing attempt, which installed malware that allowed hackers to capture her account passwords.
Both Graus and Thousand had virus protection in place, but today’s savvy hackers are finding inventive ways around it.
Part of the issue for small business is that identity theft is often a large component of the cyber crime. When fraud strikes it reportedly costs the average consumer $631 and take on average 130 hours to recover from identity theft
The good news is that help may be on the way. Last month President Barack Obama stated that he is looking to create an “identity ecosystem” that could include unique software that creates one-time digital passwords. This is part of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).
The most important thing to do is to always be on guard, and not to be the low hanging fruit for cyber crimina


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