Flipping the board on hackers Part 1: Data as a target

In this two-part series, we'll examine the kinds of information cybercriminals are after, what value that data has and how enterprises can turn the tables on hackers.

It’s happened to everyone at least once: You’re playing a board game – and winning – and your opponent isn’t having any of that. This spoilsport just can’t handle the fact that you’re clearly more skilled at this particular game. Be it Monopoly, Clue or another board game classic, the end result is the same – your opponent flips the board on you, scattering game pieces everywhere and effectively ending the game.

Let’s face it: This isn’t an enjoyable experience for anyone. But when your chips are down and you have no other option, it can sometimes be best to walk than to face the shame of loss.

“It’s time to flip the board in cybercriminals’ faces, crashing the game pieces to the floor and walking off in a new kind of victory.”

In this day and age, businesses deal with crushing losses like this nearly every day at the hands of cybercriminals. Some companies – while they do their best to play the game as well as they can – still end up losing, or coming under cybercriminal attack and watching as hackers make off with their mission-critical corporate information.

Well, it’s time to change the game. It’s time to flip the board in cybercriminals’ faces, crashing the game pieces to the floor and walking off in a new kind of victory. But before we discuss just how to flip the board in this manner, let’s take a look at what makes company data so valuable to cybercriminals.

What information do hackers look for? 
By now, it’s clear what hackers are after. Oftentimes, the typical cybercriminal goes after information they can sell or utilize themselves for identity theft and fraud. This extends to people’s names, credit card and PIN numbers, addresses, emails, Social Security numbers and a whole host of other data. By a hacker’s logic, why spend your own money when you can just use someone else’s credit card? Sorry, Jane Smith, but you’re picking up the tab for Johnny Hacker on this one.

What’s more is that there is no shortage in sight when it comes to this kind of data. People leverage this information every day to make purchases, fill out forms or create website profiles. Individuals often don’t realize how often they use their personal data: It’s out there everywhere. Many times, users trust businesses to keep these details safe, but any enterprise that deals with customers’ personal information – which is just about every company out there – is a prime target for cybercrime.

Rod Rasmussen, security expert and Internet Identity president and CTO, explained that cybercriminals gather as much information as they can, then trade with one another to establish a complete profile of an individual. Let’s say I’m Saundra the Hacker and I have John Smith’s name, address, email and Social Security number. Then I meet fellow hacker Shane, who has Smith’s payment card information and PIN number. I trade another’s personal information to Shane in exchange for his details on John Smith and suddenly I have everything I need for identity theft. The potential for fraudulent activity is nearly endless.

Stay tuned for the next part of this series where we’ll take a look at the price of information and how businesses can flip the board on cybercriminals.


Hackers primarily target customer details and other sensitive information in their attacks.