07, Mar, 2024

Why Cybercrime is Growing and How We Can Fight Back

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Did you know that a staggering 97% of internet users are unable to recognize cybercrime?  This lack of awareness creates a prime target for criminals, as evidenced by the recent data breach affecting over 2 million patients.  On the first Wednesday of every month, we observe Cyber Security Awareness Month, a timely reminder of the ever-present threat and the importance of vigilance.

What is cybercrime?

The definition of cybercrime is the illegal use of communication devices to commit an illegal act. Broadly speaking, this puts cybercrimes into one of two categories:

  • Crimes targeting a communication device (for example: a ransomware attack designed to encrypt files and halt operations at an organization)
  • Using a communication device to commit other crimes (for example: using a computer to commit money laundering)

Cybercrime perpetrators work by exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems, workflows, and human nature. They could use technical hacking skills, or manipulate the humans on the other end by using social engineering techniques.

In each case though, the perpetrators commit cybercrimes because the conditions of the fraud triangle have been met.

The fraud triangle lists three separate motivations to commit fraud:

Incentive: this could be external pressure, such as rent payments going up

Opportunity: the perpetrator can spot a vulnerability in the system to exploit

Rationalization: there is a good reason to commit the crime, for example, an ex-employee who was fired from their job might rationalize a cybercrime on their previous employer because they ‘deserve’ the money

Real-life examples of cybercrime

Here are two key examples of cybercrime:

Twitter credentials verification

Marriott data breach

Why is Cybercrime Growing?

  • The Allure of Easy Money: Cybercrime offers a seemingly low-risk, high-reward proposition for criminals. Hacking tools and techniques are readily available online, making it easier for even non-technical individuals to launch attacks.
  • The Globalized Battlefield: Cyberspace has no borders, allowing criminals to operate from anywhere in the world, making it difficult for law enforcement to track and apprehend them.
  • Evolving Technologies: As technology advances, new vulnerabilities emerge. Criminals are constantly innovating, developing new methods to exploit these weaknesses for nefarious purposes.
  • The Value of Data: Our personal information, financial records, and intellectual property are valuable assets in the digital age. This data becomes a prime target for cybercriminals.

How to detect cybercrime

Cybercrime detection is all about knowing normal levels and being alert when things change.
For example, if a supplier requests an urgent transfer to a new bank account at the last minute, it might signify an attempt at vendor fraud.

Here are some of the best ways to detect cybercrime:

Fraud awareness training: educate employees to spot the signs of cybercrimes and show them how to report their suspicions

Multi-factor authentication: use remote verification methods to include passwords, biometrics, and one-time codes

Use anti-virus software: not only should this protect your systems, but it will also flag when intruders are detected

Why is Cybercrime Difficult to Counter?

  • Jurisdictional Challenges: Cybercrime often transcends national borders, making it difficult to hold criminals accountable. International cooperation among law enforcement agencies is crucial, but can be hampered by different legal systems and priorities.
  • The Hidden Nature of Crime: Cyberattacks often occur without a physical trace, making them harder to detect and investigate compared to traditional crimes.
  • The Resource Gap: Many countries lack the specialized training and resources needed to effectively combat sophisticated cybercrime.
  • The “Cat and Mouse” Game: As law enforcement develops new methods to track and apprehend cybercriminals, the criminals adapt and develop new techniques to evade detection.

What Can Be Done to Combat Cybercrime?

  • Increased International Collaboration: Enhanced cooperation between law enforcement agencies around the world is essential for tracking down cybercriminals and bringing them to justice.
  • Investing in Cybersecurity: Governments and businesses need to invest in robust cybersecurity infrastructure, protecting critical systems and data from attack.
  • Public Awareness Campaigns: Educating the public about the dangers of cybercrime and best practices for online safety is crucial.
  • Promoting Innovation: Investing in research and development of advanced security technologies is essential to stay ahead of cybercriminals.
  • Public-Private Partnerships: Collaboration between government agencies and private companies is vital for a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity.

The Cybercrime Atlas: A Weapon in the Fight

The World Economic Forum, in collaboration with other organizations, has developed the Cybercrime Atlas (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2023/10/cybercrime-violent-crime/). This innovative resource serves as a valuable tool:

  • Mapping the Landscape: The Atlas provides detailed information about the global cybercrime landscape, identifying trends and hotspot regions.
  • Enhancing Collaboration: The Atlas fosters international cooperation by sharing knowledge and best practices among governments and businesses.
  • Developing Solutions: By analyzing cybercrime data, the Atlas helps in developing targeted strategies and solutions for combating specific threats.

By working together, implementing robust strategies, and leveraging resources like the Cybercrime Atlas, Government agencies, or NGOs we can create a safer and more secure digital environment for everyone.

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