Cyber-crime is very much a huge focus for the media and it is no wonder, seeing as it is the second most reported economic crime affecting 32 per cent of organisations according to the PwC Global Economic Crime Survey 2016.
We see regular reports on almost a daily basis of cyber-breaches and attacks on large organisations. However, the issue is certainly not just a problem for multi-national organisations. In fact, it’s not just a business related issue at all.
Anyone can be at risk of a cyber-breach including on a personal level, in particular those who hold senior executive positions or are known to be of high net worth. High profile figures, from sports people and TV personalities to politicians, are prime targets. No one will forget the reports of ex-England footballer David Beckham’s emails having been breached, and the 2014 mass-attack of a number of celebrity iCloud accounts still gives cause for concern, as does the accessing of President Obama’s personal emails in the same year.
Of course you don’t have to be in the spotlight to become a victim of cyber criminals or hackers: executives are also attractive targets and there have even been reports of attackers trawling through the websites of wealth managers in order to target the super-rich.
Double Risks for Executives
For the executive, there is a double risk: aside from the potential to become a third-party in-road for cyber criminals into the organisations they head-up (the PwC survey confirmed that the human factor is by far the weakest link in terms of corporate cyber-crime), there is also a major risk to personal assets.
A study carried out last year, the Barclay’s Digital Development Index, showed the UK in ninth place out of a survey of ten countries due to a lack of digital skills. Barclays said only 13 per cent of British workers surveyed used password-generating software, in comparison to 32 per cent in China and India. It also came to light that the majority stored payment information on frequently used websites, suggesting that convenience is dangerously prioritised over security.
Phishing attacks are also on the rise. Telecoms company Verizon analysed 10,000 incidents in its 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report. It found as many as 1,000 had led to a data breach and that nearly one in three phishing emails is opened, with 12 per cent clicking on links. Apparently, those in high-pressure jobs, for example PR executives, journalists and lawyers, who regularly receive urgent emails, sit amongst the most regular victims.
Individuals Should Place as Much Emphasis on Cyber Security as they do Physical Security
Digital crime now poses one of the most significant threats to particularly wealthy people, which is why it is crucial for high net worth and high profile individuals to place as much emphasis on protecting themselves in the cyber realm as they do via bodyguards and security measures in the physical world.
The methods cyber criminals are using to compromise their targets are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Attackers will monitor online activity in order to siphon off money; they’ll use threats of extortion from data extracted during a breach; they’ll blackmail their victims through digital means, sometimes manipulating social media interactions to do so. Devices may even be stolen in order to gain access to platforms and accounts, and criminals are not just going directly to the target: they are also finding avenues in through their domestic staff such as cleaners and nannies as well as drivers and PAs.
For the high net worth individual, reputation is at risk as well as monetary loss.
The importance of arranging for a robust, fully tailored cyber security programme to be put in place cannot be over-emphasised. This programme must include dedicated monitoring and ongoing advice and attention so that it never becomes outdated. Cyber-crime is evolving at an exceptionally rapid pace, which for the wealthy and influential means the risk will continue to grow.
The key message is, do not leave yourself open to attacks. Cyber-security is not just for companies: there is a very real and exceptionally vital need to protect yourself as an individual.
At IQ in IT, cyber security is our key priority. We work with both businesses and individuals to protect data, assets and reputation. To request your cyber security review, please contact us.