With cyber crime rising, all eyes on Android

Feb 22, 2016, 3:47 PM EST
Source: Bianca Moraes/flickr
Source: Bianca Moraes/flickr

Last week’s cyber attack on a Los Angeles hospital, which incidentally resulted in a $17,000 payout to the hackers, has security experts worried on a number of levels. The hack of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center left the facility with seemingly no choice but to fork over the requested ransom demand in order to regain control of its computer system. While this cyber attack wasn’t as highly publicized as some other recent cyber breaches, it indicates a growing inability to fend off ransomeware attacks and reveals that businesses are at a loss should the hackers demand ransom. Medical facilities are somewhat more at risk since compromising patient care is a high priority, and hospitals can often be vulnerable via their antiquated systems and older infrastructure. Research underscores these increased risks.

Dell released the 2016 Dell Security Annual Threat Report on Monday, which highlights currently unaddressed malware attacks. The report looks at cybercrime trends of the past year, and aims to identify security risks for the coming year. Based on data collected throughout 2015 from the Dell SonicWALL Global Response Intelligence Defense (GRID) network “with daily feeds from more than one million firewalls and tens of millions of connected endpoints,” according to the company, the report noted four developing trends in cyber crime, two of which are the continued rise of Android malware, and the significant uptick in the number of malware attacks. 

Indeed, Android malware attracted international worry last week as it swept across smartphones in Denmark. Heimdal Security identified the malware as “Mazar” and warned that it spread through text messages. Dell’s report says that malware attempts continued a strong upsurge throughout 2015, “causing unthinkable damage to government agencies, organizations, companies and even individuals.”

Like hospitals, companies and agencies that work with the government are oft-targeted entities due to their sensitive information. On Monday, BAE Systems, a U.K. defense, security, aerospace company and weapons maker, said that it receives cyber breaches 100 times a year, and that web-based crime is becoming more sophisticated. The Financial Times reports that BAE actually noted that foreign governments have been identified as some of the prime attackers. 

BAE is not alone in fending off cyber attacks in the U.K. Another batch of research commissioned by security firm Carbon Black found that more than a quarter of U.K. chief information officers (CIOs) say they are not concerned about security breaches or the time needed to discover them. And 85% admit they are not proactively hunting for threats, and are dealing with them only when breaches are discovered, reports Computer Weekly

That figure in and of itself highlights perhaps the biggest problem the world faces right now: thus far, companies and governments have dealt with cyber breaches as they occur, not in a preemptive manner. It is becoming clearer that foresight is needed to prevent the damaging, inevitable attacks of the future.