The rise of cybercrime: What you need to know

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Did you know that a simple error in awareness can lose you or your organization anywhere from hundreds to millions of dollars? More importantly, do you know how to effectively protect your network infrastructure from a multitude of attacks? Don’t worry. You’re in the right place. Keep reading to discover a number of statistics and insights on the growing cybercrime industry.

The Changing Face of Crime

Most crime around the world has declined and is reaching levels of all-time lows. Cybercrime, however, is rising at an alarming rate.

According to a report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center, business emails have been the prime target as of late, with cybercriminals amassing approximately 3.1 billion dollars through this scam alone. Simply 2,500 business emails are enough to rack in a significant profit of $250 million dollars, which only inspires cybercriminals to continue honing their craft and developing their skills.

This number shows an alarming increase as studies from the same organization showed that in 2003 the amount of money lost through cybercrime activity was $125.6 Million, that then rose to $781.8 Million in 2013. Now, email scams alone are generating billions of dollars for these criminals.

It’s important to note that isn’t just the United States that suffers from Cybercrime –  approximately $400 Billion has been lost globally due to this growing trend.

According to an article on The Information Age, the global cost of Cybercrime is estimated to reach $2 trillion by 2019 which is a threefold increase from the 2015 estimate of $500 billion.

Cybercrime Is Impacting Everyone

Outside of business email scams, some of the most well-known examples of cybercrime include, but are not limited to, hacking, copyright infringement, unwarranted mass-surveillance and infrastructure attacks via viruses and malware. Also, problems of privacy when confidential information is intercepted or disclosed lawfully or otherwise is a severe case of cybercrime, known as phishing.

Often, personal information will be intercepted, which criminals then use on the deep web for criminal activity, such as selling or buying illegal drugs, so that if they were to get caught, they would have a proxy identity to get out of getting in trouble.

Shockingly, another common activity with these fake identities is the illegal purchasing of firearms through the deep web. If purchased through the deep web, almost anyone can purchase firearms, and users don’t have to document their guns like if they were to purchase firearms legally. This trend of illegal purchasing is evident in a data visualization put together by the University of Cincinnati’s Online Criminal Justice Program, as the number of arms manufacturing has almost doubled since the advent of the deep web, yet the graph also shows that the number of individuals with guns is decreasing. This means that there are more guns than ever, yet the number of legally documented guns has decreased.

What can be done about this growing trend? Do you have experience with the deep web? More to cover, but feel free to share your comments below

Real-world Examples

With 2017 almost closing, industry pundits are projecting that this year has witnessed more Cybercrime than ever before. Some of the biggest examples have been the attack on the credit agency Equifax which affected 143 million people, an intrusion into the SEC, and a hack at the major accounting firm, Deloitte.

With cybercrime being an ever growing issue, how is it that these large companies are continuing to fall victim to it? One of the ways is through the infrastructure’s back-door, meant as a security protocol exclusively for organizational or government access. You may have heard quite a bit about back-doors and government access to infrastructure as it was a major news headline during Apples battle with the FBI in 2016. As you might remember, the FBI asked for Apple to create back-door access to an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernadino shooters. Yet, Apple denied this request citing that it would threaten the privacy and security of millions of other iPhones.

Sophisticated attacks are a threat, but the biggest hacks can be the result of known vulnerabilities that don’t get fixed in time, which is what happened with Equifax. Hackers infiltrated the company through a flaw in a tool called Apache Struts, which is used to build web applications.

The flaw was identified and disclosed in March, but several months later, Equifax’s machines were still not all updated and protected, allowing the hacker’s entry.

Many companies don’t maintain basic security hygiene to prevent cyber attacks. That includes regularly updating and patching computers, implementing mandatory two-factor authentication, and training employees to recognize phishing attempts.

All this, of course, takes time and money but consider the alternative? Millions can be lost, just because these companies want to cut corners and save money.

The Equifax breach is a wake-up call for businesses who don’t prioritize security, so this kind of crime doesn’t happen.

Why It’s Important to Protect Infrastructure

By not protecting your infrastructure carefully and securely you leave your network open to attack. It’s not just through your computer that your company is at risk.

With numerous items connecting to the internet, such as smart coffee machines and connected light bulbs.

An article in CNN Tech reported that hackers recently tried to steal data from a North American casino through a fish tank connected to the internet. They managed to compromise the tank and send data to a device in Finland. Insecure devices are like unlocked doors into networks; if a hacker accesses one, they could move around the rest of the system and potentially steal private information.

It’s estimated that if the internet were shut down by cyber crime, it would cause a loss of $2.4 Billion globally in gross domestic product.

To protect America’s infrastructure, the Pentagon has several agencies in place with information security professionals who are essential to creating prevention, defense, and response plans.

However with one million cybersecurity jobs unfilled globally with 209,000 job openings in the United States alone. Global demand for cybersecurity professionals is expected to reach 6 million by 2019.

Cybercrime is a rising issue, not just for business but for everyday people as well. Ensure you are well protected and are educated on what to look out for. Without the proper protection and knowledge internet crime can cost you financially and personally.

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