David Prosser: Sony's humiliation is a lesson to businesses all over the world
Wednesday 04 May 2011
Outlook There but for the grace of God... That ought to be the reaction of executives at companies the world over to the disaster that has befallen Sony. The hack on the Japanese company has been all the more excruciating for its hopeless failure to get to grips with the problem, but in their heart of hearts, most business leaders will admit they have not taken cyber crime sufficiently seriously.
Indeed, the blue-chip names that employ the American email marketing company Epsilon – including prominent British businesses – owe Sony a vote of thanks. The attack on it has overshadowed the theft from Epsilon of millions of their customer' personal details.
In Britain alone, cyber crime is now costing businesses more than £20bn a year according to the Office of Cyber Security and Information Assurance, an agency of the Cabinet Office. And those who specialise in combating this sort of threat say that many of Britain's biggest companies have only the most rudimentary of defences against cyber crime. Small and medium-sized enterprises are generally even less well-protected.
One problem is that expensive technology solutions often do not cover the most vulnerable part of a business: its workforce. Setting up hacker-resistant firewalls is one thing, ensuring there is no risk of employees leaving a laptop on a train, say, is quite another.
The growth of mobile devices is potentially dangerous too. Companies' networks may be well protected only for employees to unwittingly present hackers with an unlocked back door when using smartphones and laptops on insecure external networks. The coffee shop, with its free Wi-Fi, is increasingly the hackers' front line.
The UK Government has begun to address the problem, with increased investment in cyber security. But the true nature of the threat is difficult to assess: companies are often reluctant to admit they have fallen prey to this sort of attack and may not have to if customers' or contractors' data has not been compromised.
As a start then, the OCSIA would like to see a central reporting mechanism, so that businesses can report attacks to a single authority. That would at least give an accurate indication of what we are dealing with – and facilitate a more robust response.
Still, better information is only a start. For companies that do not take this issue seriously, particularly SMEs that might not consider cyber-security spending as cost-effective, the Sony scandal is the loudest wake-up call yet.
- 1 Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
- 4 Bookies now say Ed Miliband is more likely to be prime minister than David Cameron
- 5 Australian student Tommy Connolly, 23, adopts his pregnant, homeless 17-year-old cousin to give her a chance at 'a better life'
Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin file for divorce after 10 years of marriage
Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
Katie Hopkins and The Sun editor David Dinsmore reported to police for incitement to racial hatred following migrant boat column
'Jihadi John': Isis executioner Mohammed Emwazi wanted to wage jihad in Somalia until his friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
Parma, Missouri: 80 per cent of town's police quit after first black mayor is elected
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Katie Hopkins on LBC: Listen to caller taking The Sun columnist to task over migrant comments
iJobs Money & Business
£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£30 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst with experienc...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...