Cyber security: critical issue impacts business.

Author:Barbour, Tracy

Cyber attacks are constantly on the rise, making cyber security a critical issue impacting almost every business some way or another. It extends beyond merely safeguarding data to encompass broader issues that involve hardware, software, people, and best practices. Experts say businesses should address cyber security at various levels and make constant modifications to protect themselves against potential cyber attacks, cyber fraud, human error, and other potential perils.

Cyber Security Threats

In a broad sense, cyber security relates to managing the risks associated with a wide variety of assets. To GCI Network Security Engineer Donald Lenamond, cyber security involves protecting computer information systems (computers, networks, programs, data, and even voice over Internet protocol systems) and their digital information from unintended or unauthorized access, change, or destruction.

A major menace to cyber security is the theft of data. The most common form of data theft usually involves enticing individuals to a "bad" website where hidden malicious software, or "malware," is inadvertently downloaded to their computers. "Once accomplished, this malware provides back-channel command and control mechanisms allowing hackers to peruse the target network remotely, undetected for some period," Lenamond says. "Once hackers have access, they patiently seek out information at their convenience."

But not all cyber crime involves the actual theft of data. The defacement of a company web page is a good example. A more malicious crime could involve denial of service where the company's network is taken offline--either temporarily or indefinitely--for spite or other reasons. In both cases no data is stolen, but either act can cause interruption and harm to a business.

The FBI's Anchorage office investigates a variety of high-tech crimes, including computer and network intrusions, cyber fraud, and identity theft. Assistant Special Agent in Charge Kevin Donovan says cyber security certainly involves protecting data, but it's also important to protect the hardware on which the data resides because unauthorized individuals may be attracted to more than just a company's data. "They also may be interested in how much space and bandwidth they can take from you to continue attacking other targets," he says. "In addition, revealing too much information on social media is a problem not only for kids, but for those who could be targeted by hackers looking to...

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