Global Security Week conference tackles cybercrime

4 Sep 2008

Global terrorism and organised crime have moved online and the most important message Global Security Week 2008 is trying to get out to businesses and individuals alike is that cybercrime is no longer the domain of the mostly harmless, teenage computer whizz but has long since gone professional and needs to be tackled from this perspective.

As part of Global Security Week a free seminar in conjunction with VigiTrust and BH Consulting titled ‘Cybercrime – Don’t Become a Victim’ will run next Wednesday 10 September in Jurys, Croke Park.

Brian Honan, CEO of BH Consulting and one of the event organisers, said that the topic of cybercrime was chosen this year because it is still the case that the most people think it will not happen to them: “There is such a huge increase in incidents of cybercrime, particularly with the involvement of organised criminals carrying out credit card fraud and similar acts.

“Many people assume that cybercrime is nothing to do with them but anyone can be targeted for a number of reasons including your credit card details or bank information. But this could also be done by attacking your personal computer or going for an organisation that holds your private information,” explained Honan.

Another little known aspect of cybercrime which Honan and colleagues will discuss at the seminar is that of unwittingly being involved in the process. Cyber criminals can turn your computer into a cell or component of their network of attacking machines that in turn target other networks and hack into their database.

“With the ubiquity of broadband globally we’re seeing more and more machines becoming involved in botnets that are quite large and quite harmful, where your PC will be used as part of a distributed denial of service attack against say a banking or ecommerce website.”

Honan mentioned a recent case where a financial institution in Europe suffered a distributed denial of service attack and 14 of the computers unknowingly involved in this attack were the PCs of ordinary Irish web users like you and me.

This involves innocent people in a cybercrime, someone who may have clicked on a file or downloaded software and unknowingly got the machine infected to the point where it is being used by cyber criminals to attack major corporations through their online services.

This also makes it harder to track these criminals down: “A traditional denial of service attack involves a lot of traffic originating from one IP address, whereas this is harder to pin down or trace because hundreds of thousands of machines are involved.”

Should you block hundreds of thousands of PCs? Honan said that this is why people need to be aware of the myriad faces of cybercrime – it does not necessarily involve you directly.

By Marie Boran