May 19, 2020

The four types of cyber attacker

Nation State cyber attackers
Cyber Criminals
Hacktivists
Malicious Insiders
Real GDPR
4 min
The four types of cyber attacker

Cyber attacks make news headlines virtually every day; organisations know the threat is out there and that they need to take action quickly.

The reality is that your cyber adversaries are likely already on your network and endpoints, poised to steal your business’ data. But who are they, and what exactly are they looking for? Today, the opportunities for cyber attack are so broad in scope that adversaries come from a wide range of backgrounds, varying in motive and target. Together, however, they represent the greatest operational and financial threat that organisations face, so it’s essential that businesses understand what they’re up against.  

The following are the four most common cyber adversaries looking to steal your sensitive data:

  • “Nation State”: This category of hacker is directly employed by an arm of a national government and they are typically very well-funded compared to small hactivist groups and individual cyber criminals. These entities are motivated by economic, political, and military advantages. This means that there is potentially much greater damage if they are successful in accessing the data they seek. Nation states are interested in data about critical infrastructure, along with trade secrets, business information and emerging technologies. This can lead to a loss of competitive advantage for the countries or organisations they target, as well as a disruption to critical infrastructure, which may wreak havoc on the general population. Media and cyber-security experts alike list China as the most prolific sponsor of nation state hacking. In attempt to stem the tide, at the end of last year, President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jingping announced they had "reached a common understanding" to curb cyber espionage between China and the United States. 
  • “Cyber-Criminals”: The most common adversary thought of when discussing data theft, cyber-criminals seek the immediate satisfaction of a financial payout. They typically target personal and financial information, hoping to exploit or sell the data for their own financial gain. For the individual or organisation targeted, this can result in direct financial loss or legal issues, in the form of lawsuits and regulatory penalties. Above all, a breach caused by a cyber-criminal can cause a loss of confidence and reputational damage, which can be difficult to regain, especially if sensitive customer data has been compromised. One of the most worrying aspects about cyber-criminals is their increasing level of sophistication and organisation. For example, some cyber-crime groups have set up call centres to guide victims through the process of Bitcoin payment and data recovery in ransomware attacks.
  • “Hacktivists”: If you haven’t already guessed by the name alone, hacktivists are activist hackers who are looking to influence political or social groups by pressuring businesses, governments and other entities to change their practices. How do they aim to do this? By attacking organisations and stealing trade secrets or sensitive business information, including data relevant to key leaders, employees, and customers. Hacktivists take advantage of the data to disrupt normal business activities and put the focus and media attention on their own agenda. The target’s reputation is likely to be damaged as a result of this type of attack, which often has a long-lasting effect that extends beyond the initial loss. Arguably, the most well-known hactivist group today is a collective known around the globe as Anonymous. 
  • “Malicious Insiders”: Insiders are an often forgotten source of attacks, though they are arguably the most dangerous as they represent trusted employees and partners. Motivated by personal gain, professional revenge, and monetary reward, malicious insiders usually have easy access to the data they are looking to expose or monetise. This typically includes customer data, company financial and salary information, along with employee data, corporate secrets, and notable research that has yet to be released. Like most of the other adversaries detailed above, malicious insiders seek to disrupt business operations and damage the organisation’s brand and reputation. In some cases they may be collaborating with cyber-criminals for personal financial gain. 
     

Protecting against these, and all other types of attackers, requires that organisations focus on improving the security of their sensitive data, rather than simply the network on which it resides. Regardless of whether an attack originates inside or outside the company, businesses must put the processes and technologies in place to prevent attackers from accessing and exfiltrating the company’s data for their own gain. 

Now that you know which cyber adversaries to look out for, don’t let their attacks go undetected. Begin by implementing employee awareness training and choosing an appropriate security solution that protects what is most important to your organisation. With your data protected properly, it won’t matter who you’re up against for your business to remain safe. 

By Luke Brown, VP and GM EMEA, India and Latam at Digital Guardian

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Read the June 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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