The War on Cybercrime

Costs associated with cybercrime damages are predicted to rise to six trillion annually by 2021. Cybersecurity spending is estimated to exceed one trillion from 2017 to 2021. 3.5 million new cybersecurity jobs expected to be filled by 2021. Six billion internet users anticipated by 2022, all of which are potential targets for cybercrime [1]. Global ransomware damage costs are expected to exceed $8 billion in 2018, based on a 300% year-over-year growth in ransomware according to a report by Sonicwall [2]. These are only a handful of the terrifying statistics stemming from recent cybercrime activity on a global scale. Even more alarming, there’s hardly a reason for anyone to believe that these predictions will prove to be false.

For C-level executives, some of the most apprehensive people trying to combat cybercrime, it is difficult to understand the motivation for these attacks. Some think it’s individual nerds exploiting the cyber domain to steal money and company secrets that can be sold on the dark web. Others believe they are your everyday criminals, i.e. the same people that would be bank robbers or car thieves, banding together and conspiring against their least favorite people and companies. However, most cybercrime specialists agree that the most nefarious and sinister actors in the cybercrime domain are state actors such as North Korea, China, and Russia. Although part of the challenge of cyber defense is matching a criminal to the crime, cyber security professionals, for the most part, can differentiate your average Anonymous attacker from a state actor based on the scale, duration, and resources required for a given attack. In fact, North Korean state sponsored hackers were blamed for the “DarkSeoul” attack in March 2013 that caused over $700 million in damages to South Korean banks [3].  In 2016, internet domain servicers for the .com and .net domains such as Verisign as well as internet service providers reported persistent probing attacks by a formidable actor who seemed to be looking for a way to blackout the internet. Most people pointed their fingers at China [4].

Overall, according to a 2016 Bank Director’s Risk Practices Survey, 77% of bank executives and board members rated cybersecurity as their top concern for the second year in a row [5]. As Dr. Steve Harrod mentioned in class last Friday, large banks have begun forming organizations of their own in retaliation and to increase the speed at which information is shared, perform more sophisticated analysis of attacks, and increase overall collaboration against cybercriminals.

Companies such as Chronicle Security are investigating new ways to implement AI and ML for cyber security. Chronicle claims that they currently have the advantage in the fight against cybercrime. Most companies today still have a reactive defense solution, meaning they find and clean up the aftermath. Chronicle is aiming to turn this passive and suboptimal defensive position into a proactive position that will actively predict and deflect incoming cyberattacks by combining machine learning, high speed computing power, and big data to help companies find patterns in large volumes of data that are difficult to detect even by trained experts [6].

Unfortunately, a lot of people see this problem as one that may never be solved due to human nature. As Jeff Roberts and Adam Lashinsky from Fortune put it, “Humans are curious creatures, and in a big organization, there will always be someone who clicks on a message like, ‘Uh-oh. Did you see these pictures of you from the office party?’ When it comes to hacking, a penny of offense can defeat a dollar’s worth of defense [3].”









One comment on “The War on Cybercrime”

  1. It sounds like you are describing the practice of social engineering-exploiting the human element in the system to defeat any technological defenses in place. Indeed, targeting the human is a viable and cost-effective way for hackers to operate. That explains why the “Nigerian Prince” emails keep coming-as long as some non-zero number of people click on the link, the attackers nets a few thousand dollars, all for a couple of clicks and keyboard strokes.
    Perhaps the approach of compartmentalizing and containing security breaches is the best practice here. No system can be 100% secure, so looking at ways to limit and contain the effects of a breach are prudent-preventing a small problem from blowing up into a massive one.


Comments are closed.