By Adam Cass
Over the past few months we’ve seen a spate of Bitcoin heists, involving the theft of tens of millions of dollars from untold numbers of digital wallets across the globe. Some attacks are directly related to the creation of cryptocurrencies, others are just outright thefts – by anyone with a knife and the desire to steal something valuable. The thieves are always clever: These heists haven’t just involved the use of your computer or mobile device – but the use of devious software and even point-of-sale devices.
These recent cases are a symptom of a broader trend we’ve been witnessing for quite some time: the world becoming a more digital place. Digital funds now give individuals the opportunity to store financial assets on any device they choose – sometimes hundreds of thousands of miles away. Businesses can now have access to these same “personal” digital funds, no matter the country or geography, on their own internal computers or on their own external devices.
As such, technology has become a bit of a curse to many businesses, which have been left to manage their own “virtual” IT infrastructure. Now, these wallets have just become “add-ons” to the business IT infrastructure, much like mobile phones or employees’ inboxes have been for years.
As with most things, the implications of these heists range from the obvious to the unknowable. Some hackers look to steal digital funds as a way to take over the wallets directly or simply defraud users by hacking and using their accounts to buy “phantom” Bitcoins.
But there are also the cyber criminals who simply hope to become the next Tony Montana. They might like to seek retribution for things like patents or infringements, or to simply make extra money from the victims. Unfortunately, this one-percenters’ success rates are high.
What’s probably most concerning is that our use of computers has become so broad – be it a company’s internal infrastructure or even someone’s desk in a coffee shop. Think about it: Our on-the-job laptops may have never been used to do any real work, but they just end up being ‘home’ machines. In any case, they’re immediately identifiable, with Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, location information and the likes stored and available for a thief to use.
So how to help keep your organisation safe? Here are a few things to look out for:
1. Know that your business may become a target
It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that your laptop is your business’s biggest asset, but that’s not necessarily the case. The use of digital resources can include both company resources and employee resources. These could be the personal items that we carry around in our bags and pockets on the way to the office, or mobile devices that we have at home, so it’s not always easy to identify and prevent these attacks.
At FortuneHedge, we use a series of strong password defenses, but we also have access to a set of smart safety features that provide a safer way of working than the basic locking and keypad approaches. They include: remote access to the network and apps, access to different user permissions based on specific tasks, and other extra, life-saving measures.
2. Audit your organisation’s security and identity management systems
The past few months have shown that different kinds of cyber criminals are using their own means to try and gain access to enterprise systems. Many businesses don’t have sufficient advanced data security measures in place, as evidenced by the recent wallet thefts. So, if you use a lot of corporate equipment, and have applications that transfer users’ data, including mobile devices, expect more vulnerability.
At FortuneHedge, we don’t believe in using technology as an end-all, be-all solution – we use it as a means to protect our customers. There is no guaranteed way to keep everyone safe, but there are simple steps we can take to keep the company’s security software, data and network safe. That way, we can reassure our customers that we understand what’s going on with our software, and that we have a way to remove malicious attacks before they get to them.
Adam Cass is Executive Vice President and Managing Director at FortuneHedge