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Volume 29, Issue 5

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Jon Seals

Jon Seals

Spear phishing has become great sport for cyber criminals. It offers a simple but highly effective cyber attack vector that takes advantage of the most vulnerable of prey – humans!

Unlike regular phishing emails, which are sent out in great numbers to victims who have no relationship to each other, spear phishing emails are highly targeted and sent to only a few select victims at a specific organization; for example, select employees working in a particular department at a particular company.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation warned of a dramatic rise of a form of spear phishing known as a “business email compromise” or “CEO imposter” scam. Hackers send emails posing as a company executive – often, a CEO – and ask users to provide sensitive information or initiate wire transfers. The number of victims of CEO phishing scams has risen by 270% since January 2015, totaling $2.3 billion in losses to 17,642 organizations.



There was a time when having a digital strategy was a sideline, much like installing new office carpeting or designing employee appreciation events. It was a low-priority afterthought — a good, but non-essential business action item.

In today’s digital atmosphere, the integration of technologies and automation is more prevalent. Financial services businesses embed digital technologies into existing channels for a more personalized, timely customer experience. Insurance and banking customers can carry on everyday finance maintenance with less time required and no travel necessary. While the ability to make consumers happy can translate into larger market shares and a competitive edge for financial institutions, the journey does not come without challenges. At the top of that list of challenges is security. Financial services applications are especially hot targets for hacking because highly sensitive personal data is involved.

In a recent Forrester research study* of 134 IT executives in the financial services and insurance industry, more than 50 percent indicated they had had a breach in the past 12 months, with 42% of them having had three or more breaches in the past 12 months. The top three external methods of attack were user interaction, exploitation of vulnerable software, and use of stolen credentials.

Especially when financial services institutions extend their digital business to the Internet of Things, the need for security becomes even more real due to the increased number of potential data breach points. More than 51 percent indicate that IoT is an initiative that concerns them. The top two initiatives noted were external hackers and privacy violations*.



(TNS) - Lots of flood insurance prices are being tossed around since high water overwhelmed tens of thousands of properties and their owners across south Louisiana.

The cost varies depending on location, but in low- to moderate-risk areas about $450 a year buys coverage for $250,000 worth of damage on a person’s primary residence and $100,000 worth of contents, said Terri Forsman, flood-risk coordinator for Louisiana Companies in Baton Rouge. The policies also carry two deductibles, $1,250 for the structure and $1,250 for contents.

"Everybody's in a flood zone. If it rains where you live, you're in a flood zone,” Forsman said. “The difference is if you're in a preferred-risk zone, which everybody is calling a no-flood zone ... it just means you're less likely to flood. If you're in a high-risk zone, you're more likely to flood.”



The way people research and make purchase decisions has changed drastically during the past few years.

Just look at what’s happening in the retail industry: online shopping is decimating iconic brands that have thrived for decades. It’s all about an empowered buyer getting exactly what they want, when they want on their terms.

And it’s not just the disruption of traditional retailing. iTunes transformed the music industry. Netflix has effectively made the video rental store industry irrelevant. SiriusXM Radio is redefining broadcast media. The Internet of Things (IOT) and artificial intelligence (AI) are almost certain to accelerate this kind of disruption.

Closer to the data center industry, in particular on the cloud side, there’s enormous pressure on many smaller providers coming from Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM.



In 2005, cybercrime cost the average company $24,000. In 2015, the average cost jumped to $1.5 million. Certainly some of that is due to inflation – everything costs more today – but the skyrocketing costs are also in line with the overall increase in cybercrime. According to BTB Security, in 2005, there were only four data breaches that affected more than 30,000 records, compared to 26 breaches in 2015. That still seems like a low number, but how about this: In total records compromised, the numbers went from 44 million to 190 million. In a TechRepublic interview, Ron Schlecht, a managing partner at BTB Security, added one of the concerns he envisions for the future:

Hackers will continue to not just target large organizations, but target smaller and smaller organizations, and failure of organizations and countries to build up security talent will be a huge problem.

The more organizations that are targeted, the more those numbers posted above will rise – and we can expect them to rise by a lot. According to a new Cybersecurity Ventures report, global cybercrime is expected to hit $6 trillion by 2021, doubling in costs since 2015.