If There’s Something Strange on Your Computer Screen, Who You Gonna Call?

The days when daring acts of blackmail were carried out by dashing young idealists are long gone. During the past few decades, technological developments have significantly changed the security perception of many decision makers, particularly when it comes to threats. Conventional acts of extortion that can be traced to a certain perceptible entity have merged considerably with cybersecurity, thus rendering the identity of the attacker ambiguous.

The global economy today is extremely interconnected, and it is this current reality of cutting-edge technology and vast worldwide economic integration that has changed the face of company safety. Nowadays, the survival of a company is less determined by how much revenue it generates, but by its cyber aptitude. As companies become increasingly cyber based, their exposure to cyber threats grows, and those who do not take necessary precautions to protect themselves from an inevitable hack will be wiped-out by their otherwise prepared competitors.

The scenario is simple; you are a c-level executive of a highly successful company, so successful, you are about to become public within the next few weeks. There you are, happily seated in your suite, gazing out to the city below, when a mysterious message from an anonymous source appears on your screen. You’ve been hacked.

As panic starts to set in, you open the content of the message and realize that an unidentified attacker has hacked your database and now holds all the personal and financial information of your top 100 clients. Not only would this be disastrous for current business activity, but if word gets out, your upcoming IPO is surely to be a catastrophe. In exchange for returning the data and his silence, all the hacker is asking for is one million dollars to be paid in BitCoins, a small price for your multimillion-dollar company. However, you know as well as the next guy that caving in to blackmail never pays, and in any case you need to report this case to the authorities as soon as possible. Or do you?

It is this confusion pertaining to how a company should react in times of cyber blackmail attacks, which necessitates real aid. In the past, we could say that such attacks are not widespread, but nowadays they are prevalent more than ever. Just last Friday it was revealed by Marriott International that hackers had breached its Starwood reservation system and had stolen the personal data of up to 500 million guests. The assault started as far back as 2014, and was one of the largest known thefts of personal records. Though in this case experts suggest that the attackers weren’t looking to sell what they took, the threat is evident.

In Israel, many have tried to deal with this issue. The complexity, novelty and multidisciplinary characteristics of the matter necessitate an encompassing and dynamic supportive structure, which would manage the crisis until a sufficient solution is found. One of such cyber crisis management teams is based at Herzog Fox and Ne’eman law firm, which beyond dealing with legal aspects, incorporates technical specialists and integrates vast experience gained in past events into newfound solutions, which would protect the company’s interests and comply with the law at the same time. Though it is only the beginning of the cyber-attack era, it is definitely not the end, and companies should take every step possible in order to insure that they’re covered.

About the Author
Sharon holds a Master's degree in Political Science from Tel Aviv University and the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies, commonly referred as Sciences Po. During her studies in Paris, Sharon had interned at the Permanent Mission of Israel to the OECD, and was selected as spokesperson on behalf of the European Union of Jewish Students at the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva.
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