Cybercrime being one of the most dreaded forms of criminal activity has a trajectory of single-handedly causing damage of over $6 trillion by 2021. While the atrocious breaches are in the rise during this information age, individuals and industry players have been left to shudder at every new technological advancement. Before I crack the ice on how to stay woke on the same, let’s know more of what cyber-crime entails.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime is categorised as any criminal activity that targets a computer network or cyberspace device, including computers and servers, to progress illegal ends. The illegal ends associated with cybercrime range from espionage, identity theft, piracy, amongst others.
On a normal day, the perpetrators of this crime include individuals or organizations, whose motivation is tied towards making an extra coin in this case using unorthodox means. For some, the motivation may be different. You may get some of those getting into cyberterrorism to settle personal scores or even to disadvantage their political counterparts.
Ever since Robert Tappan Morris invented the first virus spread through the internet, the exponential increase in technological know-how has facilitated a surge in cyber-crime.
Traps from cybercriminals have been lain targeting the areas surrounding Access to data (personal or organisational). Remember, data is a production factor. Information is just like gold if you know how to process it to produce jewels. That means data can be sold, used to demand ransom, or even destroyed to undermine an individual or an organization.
How bad of a global problem is cybercrime?
As such, Cybercrime statistics have risen to alarming digits in the recent past. For one, Verizon has estimated that Cybercrime damages will hit $6 trillion by 2021. Not to mention, there are companies still paying off damages from a breach years ago, like Equifax. Another crazy statistic, the average time to identify a breach in 2019, was approximately seven months. In the first half of the same year (6 months!), 4.1 billion records were exposed due to breaches. The damage! According to Varonis, Cybercrime is on the rise; therefore, more money- over nearly $134 billion- is yet to be spent on its prevention and damages globally.
How do people end up being predators to cybercrime?
A common scenario of what goes down can be described as follows”
You are at work, going about your usual day’s business on your computer. Suddenly, you receive an email from your bank. They are experiencing technical difficulty that needs your immediate cooperation to resolve. A little anxiety manifests as you scroll to the message’s portion that specifies instructions to rectify the problem. Fortunately, there is a link at the bottom and just above it, a clearly stated directive. “Click the link below to confirm your details.”
You hesitate– they have never said this before.
However, because you are high on anxiety, you click anyway. You are redirected to a very familiar web page and even given instant reassurances such as “Beware of scammers!” or even “Scanned and cleaned by Anti-Virus.” With the recognition and relief, you provide your details and receive an excellent lovely notification. “Your cooperation is very much appreciated. We will work to resolve the issue as soon as possible.”
Before you can even think about what the issue was, your confidential details appear on the screen of Frank, a young man living in his parent’s basement who orchestrated the whole thing. He created the bank’s identical website, composed the perfect email, and set it all up to get your confidential details. Frank can now commit many crimes, including identity fraud, theft, and extortion, among others.
In this case, you are the victim of a form of social engineering Cybercrime called phishing.
Two globally leading cybercrimes, include:
Phishing is just one among a myriad of other Cyber crimes that are committed on the internet daily. Comparatively, it is the easiest to conduct because it mainly involves exploiting human emotions.
Increased use of online services is perfect for attackers to utilize this technique, given brimming feelings regarding COVID-19. In April, Google’s Threat Analysis Group reported that it blocked 18 million COVID-19 themed malware and phishing emails per day. To put it into perspective, of the 5 billion internet users (as of September 2020), there are around 4 billion email users. Roughly 306.4 billion emails are sent and received daily, yet one in every 99 emails is a phishing attempt.
2. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
Another common type of cyber crime attack is the Distributed Denial of Service attack.
This one simply means increasing the number of computers to flood a server with requests such that that server doesn’t have the resources such as processor or storage space to service other users. By doing this, the attacker can sabotage a company’s operations by rendering a portion of its network unusable. The most recent publicized example is an attack on Amazon Web Services in February. That’s disrupting a $9 billion business that enables millions of other companies.
3. Malware Attack
Malware attacks are pretty standard. Almost everybody has heard of a computer virus or worm. What people do not know is that software can cause both digital and physical harm. Stuxnet, a worm discovered in 2010, is believed to have damaged one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges by infecting several computers controlling the nuclear facility processes and altering commands. Scary that a virus can infect your computer, destroy your digital data then cause a nuclear meltdown.
How do I keep off from the cybercrime?
While having lost or damaged data is bad, it can be an expensive process to recover it from Cybercrime attackers. Not to mention the dangers imposed by how the criminal can use it. Do not just sit there and cower. Do something!
Here are five things that you can do to reduce the chances of a cybercrime attack.
- Use a unique and robust password– A strong password consists of more than ten characters. International cyberSecurity Protection Alliance (ICSPA) recommends the usage of combined characters uppercase and lowercase letters and symbols and numbers.
- Update software regularly – Cyber-criminals use known loopholes in the software to commit a crime. Updates can reduce the chances of an attack.
- Avoid sharing too much personal information on social media. This is because some data transmitted to bypass security questions.
- Do not download applications clicking random links or from questionable sites– Only download data and applications from trusted sources. You do not want to download an easy application to hack or introduce malware into your device.
- Be cautious while replying to emails with your details– Never click on links whose sources cannot be verified; they might be a sham to phish your data.
As you have well seen, falling prey to cybercriminals is as easy as a click of a button. Better prevent these fraudsters from getting to you than being sorry when they catch yup with you. Be watchful of the sites and pop-ups you click on. Try to limit sharing your private details on social platforms to keep away.