96pc of cyber attacks on Irish firms come from organised criminals

24 Nov 2011

Irish businesses are battling a rising epidemic of cyber attacks, Irish online security body IRISSCERT has revealed, with the majority of attacks coming from organised criminals.

Of those 441 security incidents, 92pc or 408 incidents related to Irish websites being hacked by criminals to host phishing sites to target unsuspecting users in other countries.

The overall majority of issues, 96pc, reported to IRISSCERT were suspected of being sponsored by organised crime gangs with the primary motivation being financial with the aim to defraud people of their money.

There were three major issues which targeted three specific and separate Irish organisations for which IRISSCERT co-ordinated the response and alerted the potential victims so they could protect their systems.

The organisation saw an increase in Denial of Service attacks in 2011 but overall they accounted only for 1.5pc of all issues reported to IRISSCERT.

“The volume and type of incidents we deal with on a daily basis are a clear indication to Irish businesses that cyber crime is a real threat to our systems, our businesses and the economy,” IRISSCERT’s Brian Honan explained.

“We can no longer afford to treat information security as an afterthought and need to ensure we take the appropriate steps to secure our systems.”

Criminals are becoming more sophisticated

Honan said firms need to ensure all systems are patched with the latest versions of software and that anti-virus software is running and up to date.

Firms also need to make sure firewalls are employed and configured securely to protect networks from the internet. Users also need to be aware of the security threats posed to them.

Systems, in particular web facing systems such as websites, need to be continually tested for security weaknesses, and appropriate steps taken to address any weaknesses.

He encouraged IT and security professionals to share information better in order to learn and protect all businesses.

“Criminals are sharing information and working together so they can exploit our systems and steal our money. 

“Businesses need to better share information with the community so we all can learn, IRISSCERT provides this facility,” Honan said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years