Cybercrime Part 1 – A Brief History

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In light of the recent global ransomware attack by the Wannacry virus, I have decided to put together a series of posts to help you, the business owner greatly reduces your chances of a cyber-attack.

Before I get into this, let me be very clear – nobody can give a guarantee that you won’t fall victim to cyber-criminals. “This can’t be”, I hear you say. “Surely the anti-virus solution I have and the IT company I pay will guarantee my protection”. Let me be blunt; if your IT Support is telling you that they can guarantee you protection from cyber-criminal, they are quite misguided! The truth of the matter is, the cyber-criminals, while immoral and highly unethical, are in the large part extremely clever and make it their mission to be several steps ahead of the very best antivirus & firewall solutions. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should go it alone without expert IT guidance. IT systems are one of the most, if not the most vital components of each and every business today, irrespective of size. Put simply, if your IT systems are compromised in any way whatsoever, your business is at risk.

So, no matter what the nature of your business may be: if you have IT systems connected to the internet, you are attractive to the bad guys and unfortunately, small companies are considered the better targets since it is assumed that they will have weaker IT security.

A Brief History

The very first instance of hacking was by the godfather of modern-day computer science, Alan Turing who created the famous Enigma Machine during World War 2. Cybercrime in its infancy has been around since the early 1970s when hackers began life as technology enthusiasts who believed in hacking by reprogramming computer programs to make them better and more efficient. The first evidence of cybercrime again dates to the 70s when hackers called “phreakers” discovered the correct codes and tones to allow them to make free long-distance telephone calls. The first large-scale attack was in 1989 when hackers stole $70 million from the First National Bank of Chicago. This resulted in the Computer Misuser Act 1990 in the UK and criminalised unauthorised access of computer systems.

The graphic below from Focus Training gives a very good timeline of cybercrime and the legal recourse brought on by its advances.



In march I wrote a post titled “Internet Of Things (IoT)” where I explained that every day we are increasingly more reliant on items connected to the internet and that by 2025 it is expected that 1 trillion devices will be connected. With such a staggering number of potential vulnerable, hackable devises, I don’t think it is likely that cyber-criminals are going to simply walk away from such a lucrative criminal enterprise.

There is no doubt that cyber security experts will develop more advanced tools to fight cyber-crime and cyber-criminals and it is equally certain that cyber-criminals or cyber terrorists will make there own advances in ways to beat IT systems security. The eventual winner is anybody’s guess 

While I’m not going to delve in any great detail into the political element of cyber-crime, the recent allegations of state-sponsored hacking to influence several high-profile elections including the 2016 US Presidential Elections are evidence that we are in a De Facto state of Cyber War.

In Article 2 the battlelines are drawn as I show you how to best prepare your business for a cyberattack.