2008 was the year of the global stock market crash and now most of the world is holding its breath for 2015. However, some are sharpening their weapons getting ready to sow panic and chaos in the global computer systems: financial organisations and e-commerce companies are being targeted by hackers. There is a new genre in the world of computer science: an e-crash that teaches how to create global panic through the Internet.
Many observers and analysts have been wondering why a financial crisis of some sort has been reoccurring in the world every seven years since 1987. Few years ago there was a huge stock market crash that affected the whole world. Today the same experts predict that in 2015 a considerably worse scenario would unfold. A pre-crisis world is the best environment for hackers who aim to create even more chaos.
A hacker hardly ever looks like a superhero. He could easily be your neighbour or a shy and quiet student who never causes any trouble… But above all he is a passionate virtuoso who is totally dedicated to his art: infiltration. His purpose is to uncover all the programming secrets, destroy IT architectures and networks. A hacker is discrete, but supported by a like-minded community of millions of anonymous programmers, who jointly develop hacking software and share the results of their operations all over the world. These guys were born with the Internet, and nothing can escape them!
Since the advent of the Internet a new generation of pirates has emerged. While their purpose is still the same – to grab the wealth of others, the means have changed a lot. Farewell to the sea: today’s pirates are raiding the Internet. Rogue hackers rob without moving from their desks and fatten their wallets by a mouse-click. Since 2013 organised cyber-crime gangs have managed to infiltrate the banks, stealing between 300 million and 1 billion US dollars.
Recently Kaspersky has become a target. Often referred to as the world’s best anti-virus software, Kaspersky became a victim of hackers. In the last two years one hundred banks in 30 counties have been under attack mostly in Russia, USA, Germany, and China. The list of countries under attack continues to grow. Majority of pirates are Russian, Ukrainian or Chinese.
Wanted by international police
The war has been declared. Europol is determined not to be intimidated by the attacks. They launched a global hunt for the virus. In the beginning of February European police has finally taken down the malware. In five years since 2010 the malicious software called a bot has affected more than 3 million PCs worldwide.
E-commerce websites such as Amazon are not yet protected against bot attacks. The hacker bot can easily capture passwords and divert transactions. Subsequently, Amazon loses the trust of its customers and its shares drop by 50% causing losses of 70 billion USD. Had it affected only wealthy entrepreneurs and shareholders, we could probably shed a tear for them. But unfortunately once there is trouble on the stock market, various hedge funds are affected. As a result retirement benefits of millions of Americans are reduced to cover these extreme losses!
Bitcoins in the crosshairs of hackers
Bitcoin is an innovative virtual payment system launched in 2010. It enables online payments in decentralised virtual currency and makes a number of companies responsible for converting bitcoins into hard currencies. The MtGox which is the main exchange platform for bitcoins went bankrupt in just a month. The reasons behind the bankruptcy are yet unclear, but the cyber-piracy version is not excluded: the hackers managed to steal more than 400 million USD in converted bitcoins.
The cyber-hijackers specifically target databases. Customers’ trust has been lost yet again and even though the Bitcoin system had a high potential of becoming successful, today it is under threat. Since January the share value of Bitcoin has droped by 30%.
Maximum alert, financial world trembles
Reuter’s news agency reports: “The cyber security experts are familiar with numerous methods used by hackers to break the network infrastructure or infiltrate into corporate computer systems, stealing data or conducting industrial espionage. However, the most dangerous methods are those that are not yet known.”
Keith Alexander, director of NSA, keeps it shorter, predicting “that cyber-attacks will increase in magnitude”. Financial world is alert and information systems seem to be fragile as never before. It seems that we are facing a turbulent future.
How to protect yourself against cyber-crime?
It is quite hard to find effective means of protection especially for a company with most transactions done online. . There are professional experts who can develop the most appropriate cyber-security solution and any company should not ever ignore its importance. But what about us? Simple users who make purchases on the Internet wonder how can they be protected? We can change our passwords every day, back up data, and keep it in a safe place; we can spend our time placing locks all over the place, while a thief can get in through a key hole.
In the increasingly virtual world the best solution seems to take a “common sense” approach…And it says that the safest way would be to return to offline purchases, just like the good old times. Do not purchase on the internet. Make some more contacts. Probably it will not get you completely back to basics, but it would definitely change your consumption pattern.