The ATM celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Some of the oldest cash machines still in use today date back to an era when network security was relatively unsophisticated. Protecting connections between large numbers of disparate ATMs and the banks’ processing centers using VPNs is relatively straightforward. Yet, some banks have not yet taken adequate protective measures. As the Internet of Things gathers pace, the need to protect machine-to-machine communications is becoming urgent. Cybercriminals’ recent success in carrying out remote attacks on ATMs is a timely reminder of how important secure remote connectivity has become for M2M environments.
Data protection is considered important, the Federal Data Protection Act is well established and German companies really should be absolute experts in data protection by now. However, a quick reality check shows that data protection is not quite as advanced as it might seem either due to lack of knowledge or deliberately ignoring data protection and profiting from selling customer data. Some readers may however take comfort that data protection is taken somewhat more seriously in Germany in comparison to the rest of the world where privacy and data protection issues are not even considered by decision and policy makers.
People are often quick to adapt – now we don’t seem to blink an eyelid when we read news about another hacked server and the loss of a few million records of personal data. Only the most spectacular cases often attract our attention such as an attack on a high profile target like the German parliament or incidents where vast amounts of data were stolen, for example the Yahoo breach. And the bar is constantly being raised of what needs to happen to catch our attention. News which used to grab headlines throughout the media is now limited to specialist magazines or blogs. Nevertheless, companies are paying attention to such threats as a high priority. A study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers lists cybercrime as the second most reported economic crime. In the study, 32 percent of companies said they had already been victims of cybercrime and 34 percent expected an incident in their company over the next two years. Analysing the development of cybercrime in the last few years reveals interesting trends. A infographic on Bestvpn.com lists the 10 most serious incidents according to the impact or the quantity of stolen data. Although the list is based on incidents in America, the findings are impressive. Even the last place begins at 50 million data records stolen from the retailer Home Depot in 2014.
The research and analyst firm techconsult issued a summary of the five major security vulnerabilities in SMEs and public organizations in Germany at the start of 2017. Their annual study Security-Bilanz Deutschland reviews IT and information security based on a representative survey of more than 500 interviews in companies and non-profit organizations. The results are sadly not that surprising each year. Although the organizations surveyed are aware of the problems and have the resources to deal with them, unfortunately they either approach issues through the wrong channels, inconsistently or too late.
The threat of cybercrime against retailers is ever present. According to the 2016 Global Threat Intelligence Report, retailers are the top targets and receive up to three times the number of attacks as second placed financial institutions. Around 70% of retailers in Europe admit to being targeted while 45% of the attacks are known to have been successful. In the past 12 months, the US retail sector has also seen repeated attacks on electronic point-of-sale (POS) systems as well as consistently high volumes of phishing emails aimed at tricking insiders into giving access to corporate networks. With online takings expected to account for 21% of overall sales in 2017, cybercriminals will continue to try and profit from any vulnerabilities they can find in retail systems. To counter this, retailers have a variety of mitigation techniques available to them including VPNs. The best security remains multi-layered since no single technology can nullify all threats at all times.
Internet of things products are small, networked and unfortunately have almost always little or no security. Sometimes this is down to a lack of willingness by the manufacturer but it is also partly due to the nature of the product – small and light also means that these devices have few resources for complex security features such as encryption and packet inspection. This leads to vulnerabilities, numerous attack vectors and ultimately to a bot device which can be abused by almost anyone. Following the latest large-scale attacks that primarily use IoT devices as a digital army there is a loud demand from those who want more legislation and governments to get involved. In a hearing before the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the US House of Representatives, the security guru Bruce Schneier stated that “catastrophic risks” would arise through the proliferation of insecure technology on the Internet.