Monday, July 25, 2011

Small is Beautiful - Hackers are PC and Target Small Firms

According to a WSJ piece, hackers are targeting small firms who are often unaware that they are even victims - the "unknown unknowns." While all the large companies like Sony and Lockheed Martin make the headlines, many small businesses are targeted because they are easy picks for cyber criminals and have little defenses put in place. Most do not even have an IT team and are thus vulnerable and oftentimes unaware of the hacks:
With limited budgets and few or no technical experts on staff, small businesses generally have weak security. Cyber criminals have taken notice. In 2010, the U.S. Secret Service and Verizon Communications Inc.'s forensic analysis unit, which investigates attacks, responded to a combined 761 data breaches, up from 141 in 2009. Of those, 482, or 63%, were at companies with 100 employees or fewer. Visa Inc. estimates about 95% of the credit-card data breaches it discovers are on its smallest business customers.......................
..........In the time it takes to break into a major company like Citigroup Inc., a hacker could steal data from dozens of small businesses and not get detected, says Bryce Case Jr., a former hacker who broke into several government and corporate websites a decade ago and now runs an online message board for hackers called Digital Gangster. Now that small companies use computers, "the juice has become worth the squeeze," he says. "Even a pizza place has addresses, names and credit-card information."
Even small businesses have to adopt protective measures to inoculate themselves against these threats if they do not want to face the threat of bankruptcy. They also lack the scale advantage of large corporations whereby governments could bail them out on the classic too-big-to-fail logic they employ. Malware comes in many forms, even in batteries, and it seems there is no hierarchy of hacking. Hackers are equal opportunity employers after all and they seem to cherish diversity as much as the next liberal arts college when it comes to their victims. The era of PC (politically correct) hackers has just begun.

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  1. Small businesses owners don't have the resources of the big companies but they are just as exposed to a potential data breach.
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