Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Risk

How Cybercriminals Choose Their Targets

Attackers look for companies with poor defenses and a lack of security skills, so no business, not even an SMB, is immune.

InformationWeek Green - Sept 17, 2012
InformationWeek Green
Download the InformationWeek SMB September special issue on cybersecurity, distributed in an all-digital format as part of our Green Initiative
(Registration required.)

Whom do hackers want to hack? This might be one of the most misunderstood questions in IT security. And misperceptions here often lead businesses to make poor decisions about their defenses.

Logic tells us that cybercriminals are like Willie Sutton--they go where the money is. Banks and other financial companies, as well as businesses with lots of credit card data, would be the prime targets, right? And the bigger they are, the better targets they make.

This same logic is often applied to attacks on end users. If you're going to target a user, make it a high-level executive, a wealthy individual, or an IT administrator who has access privileges to many different systems. Go for the users with the keys to the safe.

All of these assumptions are perfectly logical. But they're also all wrong.

Most cybercriminals just aren't all that selective. True, banks handle lots of transactions, but any company with money is a good target, and a company that sells snack foods or construction equipment may have far fewer defenses.

Similarly, the perception that cybercriminals target only big companies is a myth. Large companies have more money, but they also have big security teams and high-priced defenses. Small and midsize companies have fewer security skills and little in the way of security budgets, which makes them natural targets for cybercriminals who don't want to work too hard. As you'll see in this special issue of InformationWeek SMB, smaller businesses frequently overlook core security practices that leave their data--and their finances--at risk.

People Of Interest

There are similar myths on the end user side. While it may be logical to provide extra protection for CEOs and password administrators, the notion that highly placed employees are the only people spear phishers and other targeted attackers go after is mistaken. Sophisticated cybercriminals know they don't have to crack the CEO's passwords to get access to valuable data. Line-level employees, contractors, even employees' relatives can be part of the target base. These guys aren't choosy, as long as the target is a step closer to the information they seek.

Cybercriminals are looking for low-hanging fruit. Their targets are companies with poor defenses, a lack of security skills, and vulnerable end users. They're looking for unlocked doors and open windows. The path of least resistance will always be the one most beaten down by bad guys.

There are many other reasons a cybercriminal might target your company and your employees, but the message is the same: No business, no individual is immune. Whether you're Sony or a mom-and-pop shop, you may be a target today. How you respond to that threat could make the difference between being safe and being breached.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
7 Old IT Things Every New InfoSec Pro Should Know
Joan Goodchild, Staff Editor,  4/20/2021
News
Cloud-Native Businesses Struggle With Security
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  5/6/2021
Commentary
Defending Against Web Scraping Attacks
Rob Simon, Principal Security Consultant at TrustedSec,  5/7/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2020-16632
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-15
A XSS Vulnerability in /uploads/dede/action_search.php in DedeCMS V5.7 SP2 allows an authenticated user to execute remote arbitrary code via the keyword parameter.
CVE-2021-32073
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-15
DedeCMS V5.7 SP2 contains a CSRF vulnerability that allows a remote attacker to send a malicious request to to the web manager allowing remote code execution.
CVE-2021-33033
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
The Linux kernel before 5.11.14 has a use-after-free in cipso_v4_genopt in net/ipv4/cipso_ipv4.c because the CIPSO and CALIPSO refcounting for the DOI definitions is mishandled, aka CID-ad5d07f4a9cd. This leads to writing an arbitrary value.
CVE-2021-33034
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
In the Linux kernel before 5.12.4, net/bluetooth/hci_event.c has a use-after-free when destroying an hci_chan, aka CID-5c4c8c954409. This leads to writing an arbitrary value.
CVE-2019-25044
PUBLISHED: 2021-05-14
The block subsystem in the Linux kernel before 5.2 has a use-after-free that can lead to arbitrary code execution in the kernel context and privilege escalation, aka CID-c3e2219216c9. This is related to blk_mq_free_rqs and blk_cleanup_queue.