New Jersey is a big target for hackers, as we have covered previously. In 2018 alone, there were over 8400 victims of cybercrime in the state accounting for $80 million in losses, according to the FBI. One reason network breaches are so prevalent is that only a fraction of victims ever say anything. Only about 15 percent report that they have been hacked, with the majority remaining silent.
City and Public Sector Ransomware
The public and non-profit sectors face an ongoing ransomware epidemic that shows no signs of slowing – government agencies, hospitals and even schools are falling victim to infection. NJ has been home to several high-profile incidents within the past few years, including the Union County and Dover attacks, the recent Hackensack Meridian Health episode, and the time the city of Newark was ransomed by Iran hackers using SamSam. The latter culprits also targeted a whole string of healthcare and government institutions, reflecting the wide reach of these types of attack profiles.
Not Just Malware – Wire Fraud, Data Breaches, and More
Many NJ-based government employees and organizations are exposed to other cyber threats besides ransomware, along with many businesses who have also fallen victim to similar tactics. These include data breaches large and small (with at least one case of doxing), multiple incidents of wire fraud phishing scams, and many other types of cyber attacks. The most common factors in all of these incidents, of course, are credential abuses and backdoor access obtained by socially engineered attacks or another method leveraging human complacency.
Unsecure Network Access Fuels Hacking
Nearly all of these examples came from a hacker exploiting a critical but overlooked gap that allowed them to get past security. It is easy to attribute these to weak cybersecurity controls in the public sector, yet that is not solely the case. Many private businesses have fallen for the same tricks, but are not obligated – or compelled – to report incidents, leaving the rest of the world in the dark about these cyber threats.
Some of the most nefarious cybercrimes in New Jersey were executed against commercial organizations, many who have gone unnamed. No business wants to reveal their vulnerabilities, but this adds to the level of obliviousness throughout the state. From websites to payroll system to voting machines, many networks in NJ are not built to deal with the combination of human error and doggedly persistent hackers.
This is evidenced by many of the examples of successful or attempted hacks that have affected New Jersey in recent years:
- Montville man charged after walking into two NJ businesses and installing keylogger software onsite, stealing employee and company data
- Two Russian nationals were charged in NJ for hacking Heartland Payment Systems in Princeton along with several other large corporations
- Insurance provider Premera Blue Cross forced to pay $10 million in restitution to NJ and 29 other states after a hacker gets into their poorly defended network
- Local Asbury Park business has their website and social media compromised by a disgruntled contractor, who uses the properties to harass and defame the owners
- SEC servers in Middlesex county are breached, exposing the unpublished earnings of several companies
Cybercrime Replacing More Typical Crime
A list of top cybercrimes in New Jersey reflects the growing reality in this state, and many others – digital crime is either replacing or augmenting traditional crime. As some of the examples above reveal, a profitable hack can be completed with little to no physical access and no geographic limitations.
Take for instance the food and beverage industry, one of the biggest victims of theft by organized crime. Hacking weak supply chain networks allows criminals to optimize smuggling by altering inventory and accounting data themselves without having to rely on someone internally. Web access allows thieves more flexibility in coordination as well, such as when a group of Chinese hackers contracted a NJ-based couple to help facilitate a real estate wire fraud scheme.
Petty crime is also increasingly moving towards cyberspace, such with the growing number of would-be Ferris Buellers attempting to alter electronic records in the Jersey City, Elizabeth, Secaucus and other school districts. The possibilities of cybercrime can embolden first-time and consistent criminals alike, and several factors make New Jersey a place burgeoning with potential targets.
Don’t Let Hackers Catch You Off Guard – Call SWK Today
Cybercrime is just a reality of our digital world, but typical business thinking has not caught up to modern hacking methodologies. Both expert and amateur cybercriminals are looking for ways to compromise your system, which is why you need a service like SWK’s to watch your network around-the-clock.
Contact SWK Technologies to learn how our managed Network Services will ensure that your data will be protected against hackers of all types.