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Cyber Crime in Business: Assessing Risk & Responding

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we'll take a look at cyber crime, what it is, how to assess and reduce the possible risks, and how to respond to cyber crimes if they occur.

Where There's Good, There's Also Bad

We live in a world that is basically good. We believe in fairness, and in doing right by those around us. We call fouls on ourselves when we play games like pool, we work with our neighbors when they need our assistance, and we even help old ladies cross the street. Most of us were brought up that way. But there are always those who will try to take advantage of that fairness, who will try to obtain things they aren't entitled to or that don't belong to them. It's sad really, but there it is. So, it's no wonder that this negative aspect of our world also translates to the cyber world. A world that lives in the binary (ones and zeros) space of the computer.

What Is Cyber Crime?

A cyber crime is any offense where a computer is the target or primary instrument of the offense. This includes the following:

  • Hacking - obtaining unauthorized access to a network or computer system. A common example is when your Visa or Master Card is compromised.
  • Phishing - attempting to obtain personal information from individuals in a fraudulent fashion. An example is an email claiming to be from your bank asking for account information.
  • Spamming - sending unwanted information to a selected target or targets. An example is the porn email everyone seems to get in their mailbox.
  • Child Pornography - sending or obtaining sexually explicit material involving children. Let's hope this never gets to be a common thing with readily available examples.
  • Hate Crimes - sending information that degrades or criticizes someone for various reasons including skin color, ethnic background, language, religion, or country of birth.

How Do We Assess the Risks of Cyber Crime?

Assessing the risks associated with cyber crime starts with an information asset inventory. This is a concerted effort to determine the nature of the information your company uses or processes. Its purpose is to identify, locate, and rank the importance of that information. This isn't trivial, and most companies fall short in this area. As an example, consider the recent troubles Yahoo is having with security breaches.

How Do We Reduce the Risks of Cyber Crime?

As with a lot of things, there are two sides to reducing the potential risks: the equipment side and the human side. From an equipment perspective, make sure the following are true for your system:

  • Up-to-Date Versions - the hardware and software updates employ the latest release versions.
  • Secure Configuration - turn on all security measures, the firewall, anti-virus and so on. Use passwords for access.
  • Strong Passwords - no simple words that are easy to guess. Use hard-to-guess words or even phrases, which offer greater protection.
  • Security Software - purchase additional software protection for malware threats.
  • Accurate Financial Information - check bank statements and credit card accounts for irregularities.

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