A Slice of Americana and Victims of Cyber Crimes

In this report, a local news agency in Overland Park Kansas provides an update on cybsersecurity breaches and crimes that are happening in their local market. I decided to share this report because I think it highlights what is happening all across the world as well as the depth of the problem we are facing with cybersecurity and operating online via the Internet.

Every facet of our personal and business lives are “online”, and even if we don’t agree or like it, we are exposed to significant threats every day. Entire nations are moving forward to “digitize” their country and cities across the globe are pursuing “smart city management” as a means to improve the lives of their residents as well as improve operational efficiencies and save resources. All of these benefits come at a price, and that price is the cost of moving out of the “obvious zone” to the more “difficult zone” by implementing well thought out cyber-based controls and operational processes.

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These types of incidents are not limited to retailers, in fact, we know based on historical data provided by firms such as Symantec, that about one third of all breaches involves businesses with less than 250 employees. Unfortunately, cyber criminals and malicious hackers know that small organizations do not have the resources or defenses to adequately detect and respond quickly enough to their attacks. Entrepreneur’s and small businesses can take several reasonable steps to move them from the “obvious target” category to the “more difficult”. The goal isn’t to be “secure” because too many factors and variables are out of any organization’s control — to include large global organizations.

Many small businesses think they have nothing of value from a “hackers perspective” and therefore do not take adequate steps to protect themselves, their employees, and their customers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Small businesses are the backbone of the global economy. Many small businesses have contracts with large organizations making them a high value target for cyber criminals and malicious hackers because they leverage their relationship as a backdoor into the bigger organization. Ransom-ware is becoming commonplace and small businesses cannot afford to lose access to their information and systems, so they pay the ransom. The resources of small businesses (e.g., computers, Internet connection, etc.) are very valuable to cyber criminals because there is a very low chance of detection. They are able to operate on the back of small businesses for free.

When the FBI or Secret Service shows up at the front door, you quickly realize your organization has been identified as an attack source. As long as people are alive and there is the Internet, there will be cyber crime and a trail of victims because their return on investment for the criminal is extremely lucrative. The cost of doing business now includes cybersecurity. Large retailers like Target or international firms like Sony have the resources to bounce back from cyber attacks, but small businesses do not have that luxury.