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Hackers increasingly targeting cloud providers, not consumer devices

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Rather than going after your smartphone, more and more cybercriminals will simply seek out cloud providers for their collections of consumer and corporate data – all at a faster rate than before, putting greater pressure on businesses to react to new cyber threats.

This is a key trend that computer security software company Websense Security Labs has identified for 2015.

The reason for this is that data is increasingly moving into the cloud, providing a one-stop shop for hackers, according to Carl Leonard, senior manager and regional head of Europe, the Middle East and African operations at Websense.

“The underground markets are actually saturated with stolen credit card information, so the value of any given credit card number with an appropriate pin is reduced,” said Leonard.  “[Hackers] have to be able to maintain a certain profit level, so they’re going after information sects … to supplement their profits and diversify.”

This has meant turning to cloud, social networks, and other legitimate services to obtain a broad range of information.

To achieve this end, he said, cyber criminals are employing new tactics.

According to Leonard,  the techniques used in advanced cyber espionage and cyber warfare are filtering down much quicker to small-time hackers and businesses than before with business having less of a window – a few weeks as opposed to months – to react to a high-profile security breach either at the state or corporate level.  This is because small-time criminals are much more ready to adopt new methods and code employed in sophisticated attacks.

Furthermore, Leonard added, hackers will increasingly deploy “reconnaissance” attacks to first look for where data is being stored.  Malware authors will scout out a network to identify where data is being transmitted and gather intelligence on how a business operates before actually targeting the data.  This will also result in increasing numbers of legitimate but compromised websites being used as “command and control” purposes rather than just to hold a malicious virus or a redirect to the virus.

“The move to cloud has brought in a new area of exploration for malware authors,” Leonard said. “They are seeing that data doesn’t always reside on the network.”

To protect themselves, industries, particularly finance, manufacturing, internet of things device makers, should adopt live monitoring to try to kill the hacking process before the “payload” or virus is delivered by investigating suspicious network activity and eliminating weakest links in the IT.

Furthermore, those in the channel should factor in IT security measures of the other party when considering partners for business deals, and consult forums where breaches are shared within the community, according to Leonard.

“Vet that supplier much the same way do for the quality of the nuts and bolts they are producing,” said Leonard.  Ask them how they are securing your data.  How are they securing their web properties?  How are they securing their online ordering services that you will be using?  Build those questions into the discussion.”

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