Hacking: a $1 trillion industry

The industrialization of hacking means that everyone is a potential target in an industry estimated at a $1 trillion, according to Shlomo Kramer, president & CEO at US based security company, Imperva.

Kramer spoke with Bloomberg’s Deirdre Bolton about the motivation of computer hackers and the challenge of developing next generation internet security solutions on Bloomberg Television.

See the bloomberg video here.

He noted that 20 years ago, hackers were about notoriety, “it was ego driven, making sure they were very visible.

“Today, attacks are really motivated, either by financial gain or political gain or going after intellectual property, so this is a very well organised crime industry that some estimate at a $1 trillion,” the chief executive said.

When questioned if certain clients were more targeted than others, Kramer said: “Initially we’ve seen when we started a few years back, is that the larger organisations have been more the target of these types of attacks, so large banks, large telecommunication companies, etc.”

“But in the last few years, we’ve seen industrialisation of this crime economy where it’s not human beings behind these attacks, these are global networks of what is called bots, or automated attackers around the world that are targeting everyone.

“So today we see that everyone can be the target of these types of attacks, even the smallest organisation. This is a very sophisticated economy that has all the characteristics of a mature industrialised economy,” Kramer said.

He said there were very sophisticated groups of programmers, and people who distributed the software, creating mass networks of bots around the world, with people in turn, selling the networks, and people who used them to penetrate organisations.

Further down the chain existed people who sold the stolen data to others who used the information for identity theft and other types of criminal activity.

He described the security industry as similar to Alice in Wonderland’s ‘Red Queen Race’. “You need to run as fast as you can in order to stay in one place and keep up with the innovation of the bad guys.”

Kramer highlighted the importance of protecting against “new types of threat”. He said that more than 70% of data being lost by organisations was being lost through new ways associated with data centres.

He said his staff and research team included “white hat hackers” or hackers who had previously worked for financial institutions and government organisations, trying to hack into their systems (with their permission), in order find vulnerabilities.

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Hacking: a $1 trillion industry