A committee of UK politicians have spent the last ten months sifting through a mound of evidence, listening to the testimony of those charged with protecting cyber space and generally diving so deep into the subject they’ve even surprised themselves with what they’ve discovered.
In short, they’ve concluded that the threat to the UK from cyber crime is greater than that of a nuclear strike and money made by cyber miscreants totals more than that of the drugs trade, which alone is estimated to be worth a whopping $288 billion.
Somebody somewhere is making a lot of money. The UK’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has discovered about 25 countries where criminals are predominantly targeting Britain. This is probably good news if you’re doing online shopping in the remote Faroe Islands but perhaps not so good if you’re running an online business from London.
This blog is hardly the place to say that people need to ensure their computers are protected – it would seem obvious, and especially in the light of this report. But many people don’t seem to get it until it’s too late and they’ve been hacked, or their personal details get lifted off their system to carry out fraud.
For those people inside the industry, the report vindicates what they’ve been saying for years, that cyber crime is widespread and growing. Hopefully the politician’s recommendations will lead to a cultural shift where computer security is seen as important as having a lock on your front door.
In some senses this cultural shift is already taking place. Ten years ago large scale industrial cyber espionage was unveiled by a systems engineer who was then investigated by the FBI for revealing it – and told to shut up, or else.
Today, the topic is openly discussed and often gains widespread media coverage. Only recently it was revealed that British spooks had turned down a batch of computers from a manufacturer because they suspected a ‘back door’ had been inserted for spying purposes. However, within context this sort of thing has been happening for decades. A former NATO employee admitted it had been planting keystroke loggers in Russian networks back in the 1970’s.
It might be simple to dismiss industrial cyber espionage as something not relevant to your average man on the street. However, this is not true. The chair of the committee that authored the report pointed out that it’s now possible to steal more money via the internet than it is to rob a bank. He also added that an extremely high number of offences are being carried out that are not reported.
Unsurprisingly banks are keeping quiet about the extent of the fraud and choose to shell out when they confirm a customer’s account has been hacked, rather than come clean.
In the middle of all this activity the best thing anyone can do is simply install the best security software available. It’s simply the equivalent of locking your front door and closing the house windows before you go out. BullGuard fits this bill very nicely – it offers wide-ranging protection and is clearly cost-effective. Importantly it is also easy to manage so you don’t get tangled up in virtual digital knots.