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Cybercrime: Hard to compute

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  • Publish date: 09 May 2013
  • Archived on: 09 May 2014

Have you been hacked yet in 2013? This question was reportedly at the top of the agenda at Davos, as CEOs privately admitted the extent of cyber attacks on their businesses. The renewed interest in computer security has been reflected in a raft of media stories about cyber attacks, from alleged Chinese attacks on US newspapers to a successful targeting of Twitter servers. The security industry is also stepping up its response, with Vodafone, for example, announcing a new partnership with the information security arm of BAE Systems. But what does this all really mean for businesses? Is there anything new to worry about? And what should businesses be doing about it?

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Cybercrime: Hard to compute
One of the features of cyber security is that it’s difficult to get a grip on what is really going on. Businesses don’t want to talk publicly about attacks and breaches. Surveys by security companies often lead to a rather sceptical response – ‘well, they would say that security is a big issue, wouldn’t they?’. So until it happens to your business, it is easy to ignore the risks and focus resources elsewhere.

But the risks attached to computers have grown enormously in recent years. Through extensive use of the internet in particular, many businesses have exposed themselves to all kinds of new risks. At the same time, cyber attackers have become more sophisticated and organised; there are suspicions that some states may be sponsoring cyber espionage and the theft of intellectual property. There are new politically-motivated attackers, such as ‘Anonymous’ who are happy to have their attempts at hacking publicised. Hackers gain kudos within their community by successfully hacking into well-known companies' websites. The threat of malicious behaviour by employees or ex-employees is always present.

The impact of security breaches has also increased. This can include the direct costs of fixing failures, regulatory fines, reputational damage and loss of intellectual property. So, there is good reason to be worried.