Mus­grave cy­ber-at­tack high­lights se­cu­rity risk to Ir­ish busi­nesses

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Ail­ish O’hora

THE re­cent cy­ber-at­tack at re­tail gi­ant Mus­grave Group is the lat­est ex­am­ple in a long line of hacker strikes on Ir­ish busi­ness in the re­cent past.

And it is feared that two-thirds of all eco­nomic crimes suf­fered by Ir­ish busi­nesses will be cy­ber-re­lated by 2019.

Mus­grave, Ire­land’s big­gest gro­cery dis­trib­u­tor which op­er­ates house­hold brands like Su­per­valu, Cen­tra and Day­break, de­tected a prob­lem last Mon­day. It in­volved mal­ware, or ma­li­cious soft­ware, on a cen­tral net­work that was at­tempt­ing to ex­tract debt and credit card numbers and ex­piry dates. How­ever, the soft­ware in­volved was not look­ing for the card­holder name, PIN or CVV numbers. While there is no ev­i­dence that any data has been stolen, Mus­grave has urged all cus­tomers to check their bank state­ments care­fully as a re­sult of the at­tack. But there have been a num­ber of high-pro­file cy­ber-crimes against lead­ing Ir­ish busi­nesses, banks and State agen­cies in re­cent times. For ex­am­ple, a group as­so­ci­ated with the North Korea regime is the main sus­pect be­hind the €4.3m at­tack on Meath County Coun­cil last year.

Hacker at­tacks like Wan­nacry and Petya are be­com­ing house­hold names.

A se­ri­ous, global cy­ber-at­tack could re­sult in dam­ages of $121bn (€102bn) in eco­nomic losses, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Lloyd’s of Lon­don this year. Lloyds said the fig­ure was on par with a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter like Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina in 2005.

De­spite these at­tacks be­com­ing more com­mon­place, Ir­ish busi­nesses and their own­ers do not seem ad­e­quately pre­pared for them. “The truth is that cy­ber-se­cu­rity is a peo­ple is­sue, a tech­nol­ogy is­sue, and a bud­get is­sue,” said Paolo Per­fetti, chief in­for­ma­tion and tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer at eir.

“Cy­ber-se­cu­rity is a chal­lenge for busi­nesses at ev­ery level,” said Per­fetti. “We live in an in­creas­ingly net­worked world and cy­ber-crim­i­nals don’t limit them­selves by ge­og­ra­phy. Bor­ders have no mean­ing for this type of crime and net­works are of­ten vul­ner­a­ble. But this doesn’t mean that Ir­ish com­pa­nies should panic,” he added.

Per­fetti is one of the speak­ers at Dublin In­for­ma­tion Sec 2017, Ire­land’s cy­ber-se­cu­rity con­fer­ence, which will ad­dress the crit­i­cally im­por­tant is­sues that threaten busi­nesses in the in­for­ma­tion age.

Other speak­ers in­clude Jeanette Man­fra, the US as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for cy­ber se­cu­rity; Rik Fer­gu­son, global VP se­cu­rity re­search at Trend Mi­cro; and Joe­sph Car­son, cy­ber-se­cu­rity strate­gist at Thy­cotic. Fea­tur­ing ex­perts in a va­ri­ety of se­cu­rity fields, the event will also deal with some of the most im­por­tant emerg­ing chal­lenges in IT se­cu­rity. It takes place on Novem­ber 1 at Dublin’s RDS. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on the event go to www.in­de­pen­dent.ie/in­fosec

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