Case Study: When Hacking Destroys Your Company

Date:  2021-06-19 14:39:15
5 pages  (1155 words)
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In the year 2011, Distribute.IT which is an Australian based company experienced a malicious attack which was very severe that it threatened its existence. This attack hampered the developments of this company, and a lot of resources were lost in the process. It is estimated that large amounts of clients data were deleted from the companys servers and the organization was falling to its knees. Moreover, a lot of business operations under this company was disrupted, and there was a loss of approximately four thousand websites.

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Background

Established in 2002, Distribute. IT had risen to be one of the biggest wholesale domain registrar companies in Australia, and their network was growing very fast. According to Radziwill (2013) it started as a web-based startup before changing its methodologies and adopting a newer approach which allowed the company to appoint resellers which in turn would attempt to on-sell their services. For about nine years, the company had expanded its branches, and it was diversifying its services whereby they introduced the distribution of SMS services and SSL certificates. Also, they introduced methodologies which allowed them to own cloud-based servers. In fact, by 2011 this company had secured approximately ten percent of the total Australian domain names market. Furthermore, this organization was holding a lot of international domain accreditations, and it is estimated that at this point it was hosting over thirty thousand clients and there were about 2500 active resellers. To add more flavor to its success Distribute.IT was growing at about four percent a month and had just extended its services to the Asian continent. Unfortunately, while the year was approaching an end, the company faced one of the most disastrous attacks (Radziwill, 2013).

What happened?

Woerndle, the company's owner, says that he received a call on June 3, 2011, from his CIO informing him that the companys network had been compromised. It is estimated that at the time of the attack there were over 20,000 clients and before the attack, they had experienced other smaller attacks which their security could handle. However, this day was different since the attack was so severe and unforgiving. Based on Rowe (2012) findings the organization was used to DOS attacks, but this time the hackers were very tactical. They had managed to infiltrate the organizations security protocol, and after bypassing it, all the administrator user access data were in their hands. The situation was worsening for Distribute.IT Company and its clients, employees and the management were very frustrated. The whole hacking process took a period of about three weeks, and during this period the companys technical staff was doing everything in their means to salvage the situation. Security measures were being implemented, but nothing seemed to save the operations of the business. As time passed by, the situation was worsening, and everything was becoming a mess. Moreover, the attack was escalating, and hackers were becoming more motivated to break down the system. They would often take control of the organization's network and periodically shut their systems (Rowe, 2012).

According to Sood (2014) the main objectives of the hackers were to destroy the companys servers together with their back-ups, after doing this they would then be able to lock the technical team out and leave the company with only one option of switching off the data center. The hackers also targeted the companys shared web servers, hosting systems and its backup systems. After several efforts, the company managed to restore some operations, but it was also forced to start from square one in reconstructing some its infrastructure. When the hacking process stopped, the company had lost nearly a half of their clients, since most of them had lost trust in the company (Sood, 2014).

This hacking was a process executed using a carefully planned approach, whereby the hacker used a person from within the company to execute his plan. It is believed that the hacker installed a key logging malware onto the employees laptop. Dedication (2015) concludes that this malware then created a huge database of passwords, and even worse it used the laptops VPN connection to connect to the companys network. From the case of Distribute.IT, we realize that the important approach when dealing with a hacking incident is first to identify the hackers primary entry points and this creates the pivotal bearing of tackling the situation and identifying the hacker (Dedication, 2015).

Solutions and recommendations

Companies should ensure that they take proactive measures from within the organization so that they can protect themselves from malicious acts of these hackers. According to Curran (2013) they should start by blocking the average system hackers and all those curious onlookers. This will help the company to protect the confidential information from internal onlookers. However, this technique will not be able to stop a professional hacker from looking inside the system. It is also fundamental that system administrators change passwords often, this will provide a certain level of password protection although it may not offer sufficient security. Moreover, agencies should note that it is not enough to depend on secure online procedures since hackers have come up with more complex yet simple ways of attacking online operations. Just by the use of a little keystroke logger hackers have enough information to enable them to connect to your laptop remotely and consequently access your private data. Therefore companies with the help of their respective technical teams should ensure that they create secure protocols which keep the clients and the companies safe. In addition to the creation of secure protocols, organizations should also see through that they develop secure backups in case their data centers are hacked. Other protective measures which the company should implement include; installing the latest versions of antivirus software, changing passwords periodically and most importantly using new designs and approaches which enable the system to detect unauthorized software that is maliciously trying to transfer information over the internet. Finally, organizations should also adopt a two-factor identification technique whereby the system would require the user to use another service after he/she has already logged in. This will make it hard for a hacker to access the user data, even in situations where they crack the user account details (Curran, 2013).

References

A Few Words About Targeted Cyber Attacks. (2014). Targeted Cyber Attacks, V-Vi. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-800604-7.00020-6

Curran, K., Concannon, K., & Mckeever, S. (2013). Cyber Terrorism Attacks. Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism. doi:10.4018/9781591409915.ch001

Dedication. (2015). Cyber-Physical Attacks, V. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-801290-1.00011-4

Perng, S., & Kitchin, R. (2012). Solutions, Strategies and Frictions in Civic Hacking. SSRN Electronic Journal. doi:10.2139/ssrn.2606939

Radziwill, Y. (2013). 3 Cyber-Threat. Cyber-Attacks and the Exploitable Imperfections of International Law, 40-84. doi:10.1163/9789004298309_004

Radziwill, Y. (2014). 4 Cyber-Space. Cyber-Attacks and the Exploitable Imperfections of International Law, 85-124. doi:10.1163/9789004298309_005

Rowe, N. C. (2012). Ethics of Cyber War Attacks. Cyber Warfare and Cyber Terrorism, 105-111. doi:10.4018/978-1-59140-991-5.ch014

Sood, A. K., & Enbody, R. (2014). Why Targeted Cyber Attacks Are Easy to Conduct? Targeted Cyber Attacks, 113-122. doi:10.1016/b978-0-12-800604-7.00007-3

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