Security Consultancy

Cybercrime out of control as Sony hackers strike again. How safe is your personal information?

Sony prevented another data hacking attempt last week aimed at its Play Station users.  Suspicious activity was detected on the network after a high number of unauthorised sign-in attempts were made.  Cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities worldwide.

Previously 77 million individuals personal details were stolen in April 2011.  Information stolen included names, addresses, emails, date of birth’s, phone numbers and also direct debit records.  Sony is said to have locked all affected accounts.

People do not have a lot of confidence in the way corporate companies are protecting their personal data.  In particular hotels are now being scrutinised about information they are holding on their guests.  The information that needs protecting is ‘personally identifiable information’.  This data can be used to identify, contact or locate an individual.  This information is extremely high risk if it was to fall into the wrong hands as it exposes the person’s identity.

Hoteliers tend to collect personal information from you in order to send offers out before and after a stay.  Hotel chains IT departments need to ensure the information they hold on individuals is stored securely in order to protect the information from any potential data breach.

To put the Sony data breach into perspective it’s the 4th largest breach of all time.  The largest security breach of all time was an American credit card processor called Heartland Payment Systems.  The company lost 130 million records.  The information stolen included the data encoded onto the magnetic strip on the back of the credit/debit cards.  This enabled the hackers to create counterfeit credit cards by imprinting this information onto fabricated cards.

A recent high profile breach was the UK’s phone-hacking scandal.  There could be up to 3000 victims of this particular crime, which included celebrities, sports stars, members of parliament, victims of crime, relatives of the 7/7 bombing and also relatives of dead UK soldiers.

Hugh Grant, Max Clifford, Sienna Miller, Boris Johnson and Paul Gascoigne are just some of the celebrities alleged to have had their mobiles hacked.  Others included victims of crime, such as the parents of murdered schoolgirls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.

Identity theft is another modern day cybercrime.  This usually does not involve hacking at all.  Criminals can trawl the web or other public databases for information about someone’s date of birth and address and then use the information to apply for credit cards and run up huge bills.  It is easy to do and as a result is one of the fastest growing crimes.

Social networking sites are extremely dangerous with the potential to leak personal information supplied by so many unsuspecting individuals.  It is said that over 30 million people now use Facebook and  7 million people are also said to use Twitter.

Scams by cyber-criminals include setting up bogus companies on the Web.  Buyers are offered products at tempting prices, and then supply their credit card details to purchase the items.  When the goods fail to arrive its too late as the site will have disappeared.