Fortune

HACKED

BUSINESS IS UNDER ASSAULT FROM CYBERCRIMINALS LIKE NEVER BEFORE, AND THE COST TO COMPANIES IS EXPLODING. HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SAFEGUARDING YOUR DIGITAL ASSETS.
Nicole Friedlander, a New York lawyer specializing in cybercrime, says hackers collaborate more today and “no longer need all the skills to complete any particular crime.”

1 UNDER ATTACK

In the summer of 2015, several of New York’s most prestigious and trusted corporate law firms, including Cravath Swaine & Moore and Weil Gotshal & Manges, found themselves under cyberattack. A trio of hackers in China had snuck into the firms’ computer networks by tricking partners into revealing their email passwords. Once inside the partners’ accounts, the thieves snooped on highly sensitive documents about upcoming mergers. Then, from computers halfway around the world, the cybercrooks allegedly traded on the purloined information, netting $4 million in stock market gains.

Like most other victims of corporate espionage, the firms preferred to keep mum about having been victimized. They feared antagonizing other digital thugs as well as damaging their reputations as keepers of clients’ secrets. Instead, word of the attack leaked in the press and then was confirmed by federal prosecutors and the firms themselves. The Feds made public their discoveries and trumpeted their efforts to bring the alleged perpetrators to justice. “This case of cyber meets securities fraud should serve as a wake-up call for law firms around the world,” said Preet Bharara, then the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan. “You are and will be the targets of cyberhacking because you have information valuable to would-be criminals.”

It may have been a shock to the system for the legal community, but the incident only served to underscore a hard truth that CEOs, company directors, and network security experts have been grappling with for some time now: Business is under assault like never before from hackers, and the cost and severity of the problem is escalating almost daily.

The latest statistics are a call to arms: According to Cisco, the number of so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks—assaults that flood a system’s servers with junk web traffic—jumped globally by 172% in 2016. Cisco projects the total to grow by another two and a half times, to 3.1 million attacks, by 2021. Indeed, the pace of cyberassaults is only increasing. Internet security firm Nexusguard reports that

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Fortune

Fortune2 min read
Turning Off the Autopilot
OVER THE PAST DECADE, investors have reaped immense gains thanks to the longest-ever bull market in U.S. stocks. Most of us have also profited from something else: a slow-motion seismic shift that has slashed the cost of playing the market. The earth
Fortune16 min read
Ripping Up the Rules at Goldman Sachs
YOU SEE THE CONFETTI before you see him: It swirls over the dance floor as a parade arrives in his honor—leotard-clad servers bearing a glow-in-the-dark bottle of Don Julio and a billboard that reads “D SOL.” It’s then, at half past midnight, at the
Fortune2 min read
The Roaring 2020s
Viacom may have lured writer, director, producer, and actor Tyler Perry away from Oprah’s OWN with one of the most lucrative megadeals in history, but it’s Viacom-owned BET and the public that will reap the rewards. Expect more than just Madea; Perry