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Establishing ‘community of partners’ to combat internet crime
Dozens of firms and organisations have signed up to the Gibraltar node of the Global Cyber-Security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP) with the aim of sharing knowledge and protecting The Rock’s businesses and residents from cyber attacks,
Ray Spencer finds
Jackson referred to an interactive Active Threat Level Analysis System deployed for many service providers to trace internet attack sources “and it is non-stop”.
Countermeasures monitor internet traffic to detect abnormal activity. “There is talk of getting government bodies involved to try to prohibit devices being sold without internet protection, but frankly that is thought to be too complicated as it would involve multi-jurisdictions”.
Governor Davis, opening the event, declared: “Gibraltar is determined to get ahead of this challenge; and, in doing so, develop a Jurisdiction that is regarded, internationally, as a beacon of digital excellence owing to its digital relevance, robustness and resilience. A reputational head-mark that will build on Gibraltar’s growing ability as a globally-connected and locally-federated platform for 21st century digital assurance and innovation.”
Getting ahead
The Summit was another “let’s-get-ahead-of- the-pack opportunity for those of us interested in being the first to understand, the first to adapt, and the first to seize the opportunities of our rapidly transforming world”, he said, as it followed the Digital Currency Summit, held in May at Gibraltar University (see “Fintech article”, p20)
Cyberspace security, Davis submitted, included the need to develop a ‘mindset’ that focused on mitigating challenges and seizeing opportunities of the digital world, as well as “the shared civil and corporate responsibility, necessary to form and sustain, a ‘Community of Partners’ across Gibraltar’s cyberspace enterprise”.
Davis has made cyber security a personal campaign for his three-year tenure as Governor. He said it was crucial to operate “within well-regulated and progressive cyberspace security governance across civic, corporate and governmental domains....”.	He added: “If this ‘Community of Partners’ is to succeed, we need to find a way of protecting each partners’ privacy, intellectual property and business USP within the community.
“If the cost of collective interdependent preparedness is the loss of individual compar- ative advantage, Gibraltar’s ‘Community of
Partners’ is destined to fail.	In fact, it will be never got off the ground. How we navigate this challenge will determine Gibraltar’s reputation as a beacon of digital excellence.”
Delegates also heard from Gibtelecom’s Jackson how companies faced external cyber attacks from botnets (groups of compromised computers connected for malicious purposes and controlled by criminals to transmit malware or spam), and ransom software such as WannaCry that paralysed the NHS and caused companies in 150 countries to lose files and infected systems.
Use of botnets has accelerated: “In 2014-15 a large botnet would have seen around 75,000 machines affected; today we are talking about 500,000+”, Jackson reported. “Until 2016 the botnet attack was undertaken quite secretly, but when a hacker released the source code on the internet and presented it to a much wider audience so that anyone can see how it works and adapt it, multiple variants have resulted and each can compromise a computer network”, he said.
Rik Ferguson, vice president of security research at Trend Micro UK, emphasised: “We have seen many threats in 2016 for businesses and individuals. Serious business, serious money and serious consequences.”
“In 2014, we saw 13 unique families of ransomware and by 2015 it had reached 29, and then last year, there were 246 new distinct families of ransomware - criminals investing time, resources and finances in developing these creations to make money”, Ferguson reported. Ransoms paid by individuals and businesses, together with the cost of recovery from attacks, had cost up to US$1bn in a single year, “for just one facet of on-line crime - one of the biggest problems in terms of criminal activity.”
And he warned: “97% of all phishing emails contain or lead to ransomware-type of attacks and the number of domains linked to this is increasing exponentially; it is very much now targeted towards businesses, rather than individuals at home.” Even so, in 2016 his business had “blocked about 1bn attempts to infect our customers using ransomware– and there are many other security vendors – so this is at epidemic proportions,“ Ferguson added.
Continued on p24
The Dark Web, a location for hackers and ransomware
The Gibraltar CISP mirrors that established by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), as a part of the UK’s intelligence body, to provide participants with early warnings of cyber threats and an ability to learn from experiences, mistakes and successes of other users and as a place to seek advice.
Lt Gen Ed Davis, Gibraltar’s Governor, pointed out at the first Gibraltar Cyber Security Summit in June, that in the six months prior to NCSC launching in February, 34,550 potential cyber attacks on UK Government Departments and Services were blocked, “the intent of which was to exploit British citizens by fraudulently obtaining their online personal data”.
The Rock is no exception, as William Jackson, Gibtelecom VP technology operations, noted: “It's a very regular threat. We have multiple points in London and Marseilles where we connect to the internet and pair with some upstream providers”.
The principle supplier of telephone and internet services for Gibraltar, Gibtelecom routinely intercepts “two major incidents a week, where we need to scrub [remove the threat from] the network”, he said.
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