A Study of Computer Hacking on
Government and Business

1.   
Introduction

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In
2015, it was reported by Lloyd’s, a British insurance company, that cyber-crimes
have cost businesses about USD$400 billion each year. Juniper research has
recently forecasted that the exponential use of technology in the lives of
consumers will quadruple the amount lost from cyber-attacks to USD$2.1 trillion
globally by 2019. (Forbes, 2016) In this age where
there is rapid digitalization of people’s lives, cybercrime has inevitably
become increasingly prevalent. In 2017 alone, the Yahoo! data breach was
reported to have affected 3 billion accounts. These attacks which are becoming
increasingly sophisticated have surpassed the largest hacks which ever happened. (Ventures,
2017)

This
paper summarises information on cyber-attacks and the action taken to prevent
them from recurring. This report covers causes of cyber-attacks on Businesses
and Government globally as well as the consequences and solutions to prevent
such events from happening in the future.

 

2.    
Cyber-Crime
and Businesses

The cybercrime report by cybersecurity
ventures estimates that by 2019, businesses will fall victim to a ransomware
attack every 14 seconds. The digital age is flawed with critical weaknesses and
strains causing many organizations to bear the dire consequences of them. (Ventures, 2017)

 

2.1.  Small and Medium Enterprises (SME)

SMEs are often ‘easy targets’ for
cyber-crime. Some reasons why SMEs fall prey to cyber-attacks are due to lack
of funds and uneducated employees. (Micro, 2017). Firstly, SMEs
prioritize profits over security to ensure business continuity. This causes
security to be neglected and overlooked. According to a survey by TrendMicro in
2017, 45% of SME owners feel they will never be attacked and 38% mentioned that
they will ignore all cyber safety in that year. However, 60% of SMEs fall out
of business after 6 months due to cyber-attacks. TechRepublic reported that a
single hack may cost a business around USD$82,000 – USD$256,000. Even if the
company still has funds, its tarnished reputation may be the final straw that
brings the business down. Hence, lack of funds is a common reason SMEs fall
prey to cyber-attacks.

Inadequate employee training is another
reason that malwares enter the systems. Social engineering attacks have evolved
to appear legitimate, leading to malware infection. If the employees are not well-trained,
it may cause the company’s funds to be compromised and possibly, termination of
service. For example, a staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital did not think much
about opening an email which resulted in a full lock-down.

 

2.2.  Large Organizations

Large Organizations often have
sophisticated security infrastructure as they are always on the radar of
hackers. Some reasons why large organizations fall prey to cyber-crime is due
to complacency and tackling the problem in isolation. For example, CEO of
Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, focused on improving the appearance of the website over
making security improvements which lead to a data breach. (Guardian, 2013)

Firstly, Organizations often invest in one
security software thinking that it is able to address all the security
requirements of the company. This is a critical misconception by putting all
their eggs in one basket. Most detection software only identifies known
vulnerabilities. New vulnerabilities not in the database will be able to slip
through the security system.

Secondly, companies usually tackle its
security problems in isolation. By uniting the business community against a
common enemy, it allows many companies to work on a single problem to cushion
against cyber-attacks. “Cyber drills” such as Operation Waking Shark which
occurred in November 2013 united various renowned organizations to re-evaluate
their security measures.

 

3.    
Cyber-Crime
and Governments

The security infrastructure of governments
is often extremely complicated to prevent cyber-attacks due to the high stakes
at risk. Often, the attack’s purpose is to conduct reconnaissance and to weaken
the citizen’s trust in their security infrastructure.

 

3.1.  Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance
is often carried out to spy on other countries and stay ahead in terms of
business and military plans. This can cause political conflict and increasing
distrust among certain countries. For example, in May 2014, 5 Chinese attackers
were accused of hacking into the heart of American enterprise. The economic
espionage targeted confidential information on solar and nuclear power
technology, US business strategy allowing the Chinese to outwit US regulators.
The political tension was further strained as China refused to admit that they
were the attacker. (Frizell, 2014)

 

 

3.2.  Weakening of Trust

Psychological manipulation by hacking into
government systems weakens the country from within. The citizens may feel
insecure as their personal data get compromised under the government’s care. On
7,8 November 2013, both PMO and Istana websites were compromised. The hacker
performed cross-site scripting on the websites to display mocking images and
text such as an old woman pointing her middle finger with offensive words in
Hokkien. (Liang, 2013)

 

4.    
Solutions 

Despite countless cyber-attacks, people
are still resistant to change. In a survey by CSA(Singapore), 1 in 3 people are
not practising proper cybersecurity. (1 in 3 people don’t practise proper cybersecurity: Survey, 2018)

 

4.1.  Collaborative Efforts

“While government has expertise, it
does not have all the expertise, and partnerships with the private sector have
become essential. We have to work with international organisations like
Interpol and industry leaders like Microsoft.” Home Affairs and Law
Minister K. Shanmugam mentioned at the launch of the Microsoft Transparency
Centre and Cybercrime Centre for the Asia-Pacific. (StraitsTimes,
2016)
Cyber-crime is not something a single organization is able to solve. It is
therefore important for governments and businesses to collaborate against
cyber-crime. An example is International Multilateral Partnership Against
Cyber-Terrorism (IMPACT) which was launched at the World Cyber Security Summit
during the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) in May in Kuala
Lumpur to bring together the global community to counter cyber-crime. (Boland, 2008)

 

4.2.  Security Improvements

It is important to come up with solutions to
prevent cyber-attacks from happening again. One such way to increase the
efficiency and effectiveness is to use machine learning artificial
intelligence(AI). AI can be used in various ways making it extremely viable. On
average, an analyst is able to view 100-200 out of tens of thousands of
security events. The AI**2 shows the security expert the day’s 200 most
abnormal events. The analyst will give the AI feedback which will allow AI**2
to improve and fine-tune its monitoring system. It was tested on a 90-day
period and checked through 40 million log lines with 85% accuracy each day. (Barrett, 2016)

 

5.    
Conclusion

Besides highlighting the compelling
reasons of businesses and governments falling prey to cyber-attacks, this paper
has also analysed the responses and devised possible solutions in creating a
hack-free society.

With boundless of solutions available, it is
ultimately the user’s choice in taking the first step to ensuring their
security. After all, the causes of cyber-attacks revolve closely around the
user’s security practices. Without any doubt, cyber-attacks are expensive and
ubiquitous. No security measure will ever be invulnerable. Hence, users have to
remain vigilant at all times. Collaborations are definitely effective in
brainstorming new solutions. However, disseminating information to SMEs can be
improved. AIs may be the way to go in the future. MIT, the world’s most renowned
technology institution, has already taken the first step in developing AIs. With
limitless capabilities, it may potentially be able to surpass in terms of
efficiency and accuracy of humans and will eventually steer towards a hack-free
society.

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