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Cyber attacks on govt double; IoT becomes threat and source of attack

10 May 2017

Cyber attacks on the government sector doubled last year, pushing it into a first place tie with the finance sector for most targeted market according to new research which also highlights the threat of IoT.

Dimension Data says cyber attacks on government agencies accounted for 14% of all cybersecurity attacks in 2016, up from 7% a year earlier, with the finance sector also seeing a dramatic increase, from 3% in 2015 to 14% in 2016.

Manufacturing was close behind in third place, accounting for 13% of attacks, while last year’s front runner, retail, moved down to fourth place, accounting for 11% of attacks.

The Executive’s Guide to the NTT Security Global Threat Intelligence Report, says the top cybersecurity threats facing digital businesses are phishing, social engineering and ransomware, along with business email compromise, IoT and distributed denial of service attacks, and attacks targeting end users.

The report, compiled from data gathered from the client networks in more than 100 countries, flags IoT and operating technology devices as both a potential source and a target of attack.

“Of the IoT attacks detected in 2016, some 66% were attempting to discover specific devices such as a particular model of video camera,” Dimension Data says.

“Three per cent were seeking a web server or other type of server, while 2% were attempting to attack a data base.”

On the government front, Matthew Gyde, Dimension Data security group executive, says governments all around the world are under threat of sophisticated attacks launched by rival nation-states, terrorist groups, hacktivists and cyber criminals.

“That’s because government agencies hold vast amounts of sensitive information – from personnel records, budgetary data and sensitive communications, to intelligence findings,” Gyde says.

“What’s interesting is that this year we saw numerous incidents involving insider threats.”

The increase in governmental attacks came in a year of global geo-political events including the US presidential election and the new administration’s more ‘aggressive’ stance towards China and North Korea; a more aggressive policy stance from China to securing its ‘core interests’; US and European Union-led sanctions against Russia; and growing negative sentiment in the Middle East on the West’s involvement in Syria.

The Executive’s Guide to the NTT Security Global Threat Intelligence Report, which was compiled from data gathered from the client networks in more than 100 countries, highlights the geo-political events as possible contributors to the increase in attacks.

Neville Burdan, Dimension Data Asia Pacific general manager of security, says the ongoing attacks on the financial services industry are no surprise.

“These organisations have large amounts of digital assets and sensitive customer data,” Burdan says.

“Gaining access to them enables cybercriminals to monetise personally identifiable information and credit card data in the underground economy.”

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