Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
July 26, 2017

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Fresh cyber threat

‘Destruction of service’ attacks could “disrupt the internet itself” and destroy businesses in one fell swoop: Cisco

A new type of cyber-attack that can even disable back-up systems could soon hit businesses and organisations, according to Cisco.

In its latest, cybersecurity report, the networking giant has warned of a coming wave of ominously named ‘destruction of service’ (DeOS) attacks, which “could eliminate organisations’ backups and safety nets, required to restore systems and data after an attack.”

What’s more, the damage wrought could be so far-reaching that businesses may not be able to recover.

So in summary, even organisations that have taken appropriate steps to back up their systems could be destroyed in a single attack.

Described as more virulent versions of distributed denial of service (DDOS), the DeOS breed of virus benefits from the growth of the internet of things, which increases “attacks surfaces”, says Cisco.

The 2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report cites WannaCry and Nyetya, two major viruses that recently swept around the world, as examples of how the rapidity and damage such viruses wreak has already grown in recent years.

“High-impact attack”

Recent botnet activity “may be laying the foundation for a wide-reaching, high-impact attack that could disrupt the internet itself,” Cisco’s report warns.

“The financial damage incurred by hacks are noticeably stark for businesses that fail to prepare,” Rob Norris, VP Head of Enterprise & Cyber Security, Fujitsu EMEIA. “Just this week Ashley Madison was forced to pay out $11m, while the reputational damage following the hack in 2015 was incurred long ago.”

The spectre of GDPR, which amplifies penalties for data protection breaches, raises the stakes further still.

“It’s evident from previous attacks that breaches can have a serious and long term impact on companies’ value, while the introduction of GDPR will add potentially crippling financial penalties into the mix. The elimination of a business’s entire system takes cyber threats one step further. “Organisations won’t just be damaged financially and reputationally but could have absolutely no route to recovery.”

Norris offers his prescriptions for protection.

“Engagement must start from the top: the C-suite must understand the risks, ensure their organisation is well prepared and develop a comprehensive plan. Time must also be taken to actively test existing networks, spot and quickly address any blind spots in the system and educate the entire workforce on best practice.

“As technology such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data becomes integral to business operations, all staff will have to remain prepared for the increasing potential of cyberattacks. Cybercriminals are becoming smarter and naivety is no longer an option in a world where cyber threats could potentially halt your business in its tracks.”

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