Whether through professional business or personal interaction, the information about your business, career and personal life can be pieced together or completely exposed. Depending on who has that information and how quickly you act, the repercussions could be as small as contacting your bank or as large as losing your competitive edge. Although there are always new techniques in security and breaking into said security, by understanding the flow of information and some of the more conventionally successful attack types, you patch up your losses much more efficiently.
There Is No Such Thing As A Perfect Defense
The first thing to understand about online security is that rules are meant to be broken. You or your security techniques may not be the specific targets of the most talented hackers and data thieves, but one of the biggest information security dangers is becoming complacent in your security.
When a business is confident in their security system, they may not notice the little things that happen behind the scenes. Not all hacks result in complete shutdown, broken systems or easily seen theft. The "hack" could be as simple as discovering that the security software designer had a flaw in the system that could be exploited while placing no burden on the system at all.
You need to be vigilant, and your team needs to be aware of where the information could be going. Depending on the information being stolen, the motive and source of the attack could be found relatively easily--the only difficult part is bringing forth prosecution. It's possible to know exactly what kind of Internet traffic enters and exists the entire network or specific machines, which can make it easier to find out if specific information is being accessed or if there's a higher volume of access during a particular time.
None of this happens within businesses who place their complete trust in a security system. It's an unfortunate side-effect of having a good system.
How Is Illegal Information Used And Spread?
When information is stolen, you need to think not only about who could have done it, but how it could be used.
Financial information is a common target for hackers, but the end result depends on how experienced, patient or desperate the attacker is. You could see a few large, obviously fraudulent charges from your company, or there may be a few cents taken away at a small enough rate to go unnoticed. The second issue is easier to miss with larger income levels and when many different bills are present.
It's important to note that information may not be used by the hacker. There are information brokers who will buy business account numbers, checks, credit card numbers or anything that could allow easy access to funds.
This protects the initial hacker by keeping the stolen money away from their physical location. It's easy to find a person's location when they use a credit card to pay for something at a store or filling up at gas station, but if the information is sold to someone in another country, there is a protection of distance and different laws that could keep the hacker's hands cleans.
To complicate it even more, information dealers could trade information with each other to obscure the source even more. Such information trade once took place on lesser known systems such as Internet Relay Chat (IRC), which has millions of servers and channels (chat rooms)--as many servers as people around the world want to make, and even more channels that can be made as easily as typing /join ChannelNameHere.
The temptation to find the exact thief is tempting and important, but it's more important to slow down or stop the damage first. Before going off on a search or finding better security, contact your banks, law enforcement and relevant clients, then contact an online security awareness professional for assistance in making your business' online presence more vigilant.