Sometimes a theme asserts itself. We didn't start out to make Russia a focal point of this newsletter but once we selected our topics, we couldn't help but notice a commonality. We'll begin with something you may have heard about -- the hacking of Democratic Party emails by an organization known as Guccifer 2.0. US Intelligence officials and at least one cybersecurity firm believe cyberattacks on the Democratic National Convention and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee were likely carried out by hackers affiliated with the Russian government. 'Guccifer' denies the connection, but we're prone to take any denial as confirmation.
What these hackers hope to accomplish by hacking the Democrats' emails isn't clear. There was some embarrassment for the Democrats (emails indicating party officials stacked the deck against presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in favor of Hillary Clinton), but you'd think the Russians would be more interested in actual secrets. More recently, Guccifer 2.0 released the hacked contact information of 200 congressional Democrats. Annoying, yes, but hardly a devastating blow to our democracy. However, we should take note that what hackers can do to political parties, they can also do to us.
Case in point, on August 11, Forbes published a story about hackers breaching at least six cash-register providers that supply hundreds of thousands of businesses in the United States. These companies were identified as MICROS, Cin7, ECRS, Navy Zebra, PAR Technology and Uniwell. The fear is that hacking the machines could allow criminals to open a backdoor for acquiring credit card information and other sensitive data belonging to retail customers.
Once again, the gang behind the cash-register company hack is suspected to be Russian (but of a the private-venture rather than the state-sponsored variety). Over all, it's been calculated that Russian cybercrime is more than a $2 billion a year industry, and a third of all computer viruses are said to have their points of origin there. Manpower is apparently no problem, as security software manufacturer Kaspersky Lab estimates 1,000 cyber-specialists have been employed by Russian cyber gangs within just the past three years. And now they're out hunting.
The bottom line is this: If you have something in your computer files that's of value, there are people -- from anywhere in the world -- who have the means and inclination to steal it. You could be specifically targeted as were the DNC and DCCC, or you could be caught in a mass rip-off scheme set in motion far from your business. These cyber criminals (Russian and otherwise) are as cunning and determined at what they do as any fox that ever raided a henhouse. There are some simple precautions you can take, (see here for a review) but eventually an attack will come. Ultimately, the best you can do is build the IT equivalent of a secure chicken coop and get yourself a good cyber guard dog.
Fortunately, as a member of The SynchroNet Way, you don't have to face down the Russian menace alone. We'll set up a virtual shield in the form of email management, ongoing security analysis, continuous system monitoring ... and more.
Count on SynchroNet to provide your best defense against all threats, both foreign and domestic. We'll also keep harping on the benefits of Cyber Insurance (have you gotten a policy yet??!) and remind you to be extra-specially cautious when you get unusual email requests for valuable data (payroll, sales, credit card)... even if the request looks genuine, it could be a scam, so call the sender to confirm BEFORE you reply!