400 million people victims of cybercrime every year
Wednesday, 5 March 2014 00:00
Cybersecurity starts with clean IT
A study done by Microsoft in South East Asia on computers using pirated software show a 69% malware infection rate. The Software Company has found that firewall rules had been changed in 97% of computers and 15% of DVDs, posing a definite threat to unsuspecting consumers.
Keshav Dhakad, Regional Director of IP and Cybercrime, Microsoft Asia-Pacific & Japan, Singapore, who was on a recent visit to Sri Lanka, said that these detections were found on New PCs, which were purchased from computer stores pre-installed with pirated software, and counterfeit DVDs, which were available to users for only a few dollars.
“The total number of malware infection instances were scary and South East Asia was the first regional cluster market we picked because of the very high levels of software piracy. Every year, there are more New PCs sold with pirated software in the market than genuine ones and we wanted to find out if this is adding to cyber crimes. The answer was, yes. One thousand one hundred (1100) unique malware strains were detected from 282 samples and this was an eye opener” he said.
“At this point we became very concerned about how this unsecured supply chain can lead to cyber criminal activities. We took a look at firewall rules that were changed and windows updates that were disabled. These were not unintentional activities. This is done with a very clear malicious intent of taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of non-genuine software and lack of awareness of the users to perpetrate cybercrime by way of getting unauthorised access to the computers, files, private information, passwords, bank/personal accounts etc.,” Keshav explained.
A consumer alert issued by the US’s FBI says that once installed on a computer, malware can record a user’s keystrokes (capturing sensitive usernames and passwords) and steal personal identifiable information including birthdates, social security numbers, bank information etc, sending it straight back to criminals and hackers. It can even corrupt the data on a PC and turn on a webcam or microphone. Malware can also spread to other computers through removable media like thumb drives and emails sent to family, friends or professional contacts. It can spread through shared connections to homes, businesses or even a government network. Criminals can also use infected computers to launch attacks against other computers or websites via denial of service attacks.
Malware perpetrated cybercrimes can pose significant and sometimes life changing threats to ordinary consumers, rob businesses of billions of dollars, disrupt critical infrastructure and government services, and leave one destitute and helpless, says Keshav Dhakad. He also went on to advise that the foundation of cyber security and online safety starts with procuring and using “clean and legal IT” (genuine software) from a trusted and secured IT supply chain.
According to several studies, the estimated cost of cyber crimes to consumers is $ 113 billion a year. Every second 12 people are victims (nearly 400 million every year). One in five small and medium enterprises are targeted, 53% of the world’s securities exchanges were targeted in 2012 and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children has reviewed more than 90 million images and videos of child pornography as a result of cyber crime.
Microsoft, who recently launched their first of its kind Cybercrime Centre, has till date taken down many of the largest botnet criminal syndicates in the world (Rustock, Zeus, Nitol, Citadel, ZeroAccess, etc.) in collaboration with Law Enforcement and Industry partners. Keshav concluded saying: “While cyber criminals will continue to evolve the company will also continue to invest in the latest tools and technologies to fight cybercrime; increase their knowledge of the cybercriminal infrastructure; undertake pro-active cybercrime disruption; build strong and secure products and cloud services, as well as forge strong public-private partnerships on cyber threat intelligence to create a secure environment for the public, governments and customers.”