Data, attracting growing interest

Digital technology is omnipresent in our day-to-day lives: it helps us do our jobs, communicate with our friends and families, host our personal data, in addition to buying online, carrying out bank transactions, and so on.This growing digitalization is increasing the volume of data in circulation and mechanically increasing the digital risks faced.

Digital technology is also at the heart of the transformation for businesses. Networks are opening up to the outside world via the cloud, used by around 65% of IT departments, while more than 30% of businesses have professional social networks. According to research by Gartner, 90% of companies have now integrated mobile devices and dedicated applications for their staff who work on the move: employees use various devices on which the boundaries between personal and professional data are increasingly porous. This phenomenon is being made easier by technological convergence, with the same system used for a number of devices (phone, tablet, television). While this digital transformation is positive for their business in general, it is introducing a number of flaws that cybercriminals are looking to take advantage of.

Lastly, the exponential development of connected devices (25 billion in circulation by 2025), representing a wealth of personal information, is opening up a new “window”: the IoT is increasing the number of interfaces and IP addresses that can be used for entering systems or launching attacks. While users keep a careful eye on security for their own computers (antivirus, passwords, updates), can the same be said for their smartphones? Will they be as vigilant for the many different connected devices that they will be surrounded by in a few years’ time?


Data, a new cash machine for criminals

Today, organizations value data, which is like the “oil of the 21st century”: it makes it possible to refine knowledge of users to offer increasingly tailored products and services, or to work with a collaborative approach for developing products and services more quickly. It is also a key part of the “knowledge economy”. Data is therefore attracting the attention of cybercriminals, who see it as a major reason for attacking businesses or institutions. It is important to understand that all digital information can be valuable! “Contacts, personal data, manufacturing processes, financial information…there is always a potential buyer”, notes Jean-François Audenard, VP Product and Service Security and Security Intelligence at Orange.

“Cybercriminals will end up meeting a buyer on the internet or dark web, through global exchanges that connect hackers and represent specialized marketplaces for stolen data”. The same data can be monetized and used in a number of ways: for instance, login-password data has a relatively low unit price, so only offers benefits for large-scale sales. However, it can be used to intercept conversations and access confidential information (mergers, product launches), support preferential stock market transactions, carry out blackmailing or even accelerate a competitor's R&D. Illustrating this, infiltration attempts are increasingly targeting the email accounts of executives. In line with this “data theft” approach, an organization may be attacked in connection with its own activities, as well as its relationships with other organizations.

Communications operators may therefore be attacked because they carry the data exchanged by their customers. For instance, the telecoms operator Belgacom was subject to a major hacking operation in 2013, probably as a result of its activities in the Middle East and Africa. Contrasting with these strategic, targeted attacks, hackers sometimes manage to enter a system without knowing exactly what they will be finding: opportunities like these are linked to poorly secured networks, which will encourage them to extract data. It is therefore essential that organizations secure their networks, given that the question is not if they will be attacked, but when! Sou


Personal data, financial information, R&D processes…all digital information can be valuable, because there is always a potential buyer online...
Jean-François Audenard, Group VP Product and Service Security and Security Intelligence



Internet and data: new geopolitical weapons

Cyberattacks are also a new weapon in the event of tensions between states. They make it possible to inflict damage without entering into an armed conflict. Some nations have already embarked on cyberwars, supported either by specialists that they have brought on board or highly organized cybercriminal organizations such as the mafia. They can call on a wide selection of malicious software or malware that can take action without being identified and make it possible to steal data or sabotage vital infrastructures (electricity, gas, oil, telecommunications, etc.). Spying and sabotaging IT systems can also be a destabilizing weapon for vindictive groups that do not have the strike force of a state: this is what is known as cyberterrorism.

Cyberwarfare is creating a new geopolitical landscape that is different from conventional conflicts. Firstly, because it is more difficult to know who is attacking, with cybersecurity expertise also making it possible to identify attackers. Secondly, because each state has its own way of managing cyber-conflicts today. For instance, while France does not have the right to respond even in a defensive context, the US has opted to take action. In addition, not all European states define the relationship between offensive and defensive in the same way when it comes to cyberdefense. Lastly, cyberwar raises the issue of citizens' privacy, which is a problematic issue in an environment where the intelligence services, who are devoting the most efforts to electronic warfare, have a lead over the armed forces.

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