HIJACKED computers in Jersey were recently used to launch cyber-attacks against organisations in other countries – amid a daily rise in digital crime that could ‘happen to anybody’.
Matt Palmer, of the government’s Cyber Emergency Response Team, said between five and 13 compromised machines targeted computers in the United States, Germany and Hungary – although it is not known who was behind the attacks.
He also revealed that CERT was being expanded to counter an anticipated ‘up-tick’ in cyber-crime driven by several factors – including the growing cost of living and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
‘The changing geopolitical environment resulting from that conflict means we are going to be heading into decades, if not generations, of raised cyber-risk. We have an increase in the number of people who are skilled enough to carry out cyber-attacks, they have reduced opportunities to earn livings legitimately, we have increasing costs around the world and we have an increasing level of connectivity between nation states and organised crime in many places,’ he said.
‘It could happen to anybody and the best way to make sure it is not you is by making sure your systems are set to automatically update and that you use two-factor identification on your emails and social media,’ he added.
Islanders can report incidents to CERT by emailing email@example.com, and can also request information and support by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘We are seeing new attacks, new events, on a daily basis – we get the information through from our threat intelligence feeds and we can see it happening, so it’s definitely real.
‘This is not something that happens occasionally and there are very real compromises that take place in Jersey. For example, one day a couple of weeks ago we had compromised machines in Jersey [become] part of a bot-net – which is basically just a group of computers hijacked by hackers to do what they want them to do – and over the course of 24 hours these machines were attacking other organisations in the United States, Germany and Hungary,’ said Mr Palmer.
He explained that an ‘attack’ usually meant the use of malicious software – such as a virus – or a denial of service attack, in which data is sent to another network to reduce its availability.
‘Some people become criminals by choice, but a lot of people don’t. A lot of people go into cyber-crime because it’s the way they can make ends meet for them and their families.
‘Because we are heading into to this increase [in cyber-crime] it is important that we have CERT and it is important that we have the ability to defend ourselves as an island,’ Mr Palmer said, adding that CERT was seeking candidates at an apprentice, senior and managerial level.
‘The number of cyber-security jobs worldwide is expected to increase by a third over the next five years – there are 40,000 cyber-security vacancies in the UK alone,’ he added.