The Evolution of Hackers and Attack Vectors

Pat Clawson
Too many CEOs believe that the "stealthy hackers" their IT teams warn them of are simply boogeymen they're using to beat leadership into budgetary submission. The truth is these attackers are very real and they're picking off organizations whose executives fail to make security a companywide priority.

In 2011, the Digital Forensics Association studied 3,765 publicly disclosed data breach incidents from 33 countries between 2005 and 2010, accounting for over 806 million known records exposed.

Who's behind this massive loss of data? There are very savvy criminals out there looking to profit from the sale of your customer data and your proprietary information.

To satisfy their need for financial gratification, the attackers are able to convert just about any type of data into cash through a black market economy that rewards bad guys for their digital plunder. Sophisticated criminal networks are now supplying the black market with more than $5.6 billion in stolen corporate and personal information obtained by exploiting known security flaws.

Data theft isn't always a direct cash-stolen endeavor. Other hackers are less interested in profiting from your organization's financial transactions and more interested in taking your intellectual property. Corporate espionage remains alive and well in the digital age as hackers zero in on new product designs, manufacturing schedules and even anticipated sales prices because that information is, of course, very valuable to many of your competitors. Hackers are quick to grab it and offer it up to the highest bidder.

We've also seen the rise of a new kind of hacker recently- the hacktivist. Rather than trying to make a profit, this hacker is looking to make a point and he's using your company to do so.

Hacker groups like Lulzsec and Anonymous have attacked numerous corporations in protest of their actions. Such was the case with Sony after the company prosecuted an individual who tried to manipulate Sony hardware. Hacktivists have also hit every level of government, like the Arizona Department of Public Safety in protest over the state's immigration policies, and the City of Orlando's website to object to the arrest of citizens as they fed the homeless in a city park without a permit.

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