The epic and exponential rise in cybercrime is a subject of near-daily discussion in the national and local news. Whether it’s from ransomware, identity theft, digital corporate espionage, information warfare, compromised election systems or hacked critical infrastructures—increasingly all of our information systems are under attack. While the media is quick to report on the “what” of each data breach (for example, company X was hacked so change your password to that account), they rarely delve into the why and the how. How are these attacks taking place, and why are they growing at a pace so much quicker than all other forms of criminal activity? Without understanding the “why and how” of cybercrime, we are doomed to fail in our battle against cyberattacks.
At a recent industry event, I got to chatting with the CISO of a major children’s hospital. Over a beer, he shared with me the challenges he faces daily. Our far-reaching conversation covered nation-state actors enticing students to exfiltrate clinical trial test results, to his search for a secure USB port cover for patient-facing devices. Maybe it was the beer, but as he described his tribulations, each to me worse than the next, his enthusiasm and energy grew. Every so often he stopped to shake his head in disbelief at his own story as if to say, “Even I can’t believe how bad this is…”
ATMs are literally boxes of cash—too good for criminals of any stripe to pass up. When ATMs first emerged, thieves used brute-force tools like crowbars, explosives, and propane torches to remove the ATM machine itself or get at the cash inside. As recently as April, three men were charged in Salt Lake City, UT, for trying to blow up ATMs and steal the cash.
With cyber risk an executive- and board-level concern, it's not enough to try to prevent attackers from gaining entry to your network. Advanced, persistent attackers can still get through even the most advanced defenses. Once they're in, they have the arduous task of moving from their initial point of entry to their ultimate target. This is the time when attackers are most vulnerable—and where we, as defenders, have an opportunity to tip the balance in our favor.