A short history on cyber crime
Historically, it points to the 1970s where evidence of the first incidents of cybercrime were found. It was when people started to circumvent phone company payments especially for long-distance calls.
It wasn’t until 1986 that the first computer virus called BRAIN started to spread among computers. The impact of the virus was to slow down floppy disks usage and to try and stop illegal copying of the medical program created by two brothers in Lahore, Pakistan.
Since then, destructive viruses and worms have started to take off and are becoming an increasing threat. The Morris worm from 1988 damaged more than 6,000 computers and resulted in damages of more than $98 million. In 2000, the “I love you” worm spread through emails deleted random files on infected computers causing damages of an estimated $10 billion.
In 2010, a new kind of highly sophisticated and state sponsored worm saw light. The Stuxnet worm infected Iranian nuclear facilities using USB-sticks which were scattered by employees’cars, making them believe that they had dropped them. Without hesitation these USB-sticks were then used by the employees in the nuclear facilities’ closed network, infecting many reactors. This forced the Iranian authorities to shut down their uranium enrichment effort for a period. The Stuxnet worm has now become the inspiration for the HBO series “Mr. Robot”.
Recently, discovered worms and viruses have been used to blackmail owners of infected computers. They are only unlocked when the owners have paid a ransom, thereby attaining the term “ransomware”. The development of ransomware has become its own industry in the last years. Best known today is the “Wannacry” ransomware that created headlines around the world exploiting the Eternal-blue weakness in MS Windows.
The growing professionalism within the ransomware industry reveals that dedicated 24/7 service desks have been set-up. These organized services make ransomware payments easier than before. In the first quarter of 2016, an estimated $209 million was paid in ransom to unlock infected computers.
Where does the Cyber Security community stand today?
The Cyber Security market is expected to be worth $175 billion by 2020 according to the Cyber Security Consultant firm SSP Blue. This estimate is built upon a recent report by Markets and Markets who estimates that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) will be 9.8% from 2015 to 2020. These numbers represent the urgency many organizations feel - the need to protect themselves from growing threats posed by cyber criminals.
In 2014, according to a RAND report, the profits of Cyber Crime had already exceeded the profits of the entire global market for illegal drugs. The organized crime syndicates have in a grand way re-focused their efforts to Cyber related crimes where the risk is small and gains huge compared to other illegal trades.
This pivot towards the cybercrime market by organized criminals has received broad media coverage when the “Wannacry” ransomware was discovered. In its footsteps, the Petya /Not Petya campaign is also creating even more havoc to public and private organizations.
This makes the overall cybersecurity situation critical, as many analytics name the rapid development in the number of IoT’s (Internet of Things) a reason for concern when it comes to public safety against Cyber Crimes. Having an entrance point to a network from every connected device in a household makes the concern of lateral movement very high. Lateral movement refers to the various techniques attackers use to progressively spread through a network as they search for key assets and data. According to a 2016 Gartner report the number of IoT’s will exceed 21 billion devices by 2020.
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