Cybercrime’s Changing Threat: Why Is It So Pertinent?

While technology has simplified our lives, reduced distances, and made the world a global village, it has opened new avenues for the crime. And it gave rise to a recent cybercrime phenomenon. Cybercrime’s definition includes all illegal schemes carried out using internet platforms (such as email, websites, chat rooms, auctions, message boards, etc.) for fraudulent transactions, transmitting the proceeds of fraud to institutions or individuals. It also applies to spam emails, targeting computers with spyware or viruses, online harassment, child pornography, and online prostitution solicitation. 

According to the Telegraph, cybercrime is now the fastest-growing crime globally. Criminals are increasingly attacking digital platforms where they can steal money or blackmail others into paying a ransom. The global economy suffers £2.3 million every minute due to cybercrime. Regulators worldwide slap hefty fines on companies for not having enough controls and leaking customers’ data to hackers. 

The dependence on technology is immense and is growing each day as more businesses transform their models and replace paperwork with digital solutions. With time, the threat of cybercrime has also changed, and it has gone from landline hacking to crypto-jacking. 

Why is it so pertinent? 

Although technology advances at an exponential rate, the human mind thinks linearly. The rate of change and technological innovation has surpassed the supply of skilled workers. Even for those who have not been victims of crime, cybersecurity has become a significant concern. Until recently, the Internet of Things was gaining traction (IoT). According to an IoT Analytics study, there are over 30 billion IoT-linked devices. That is precisely why is cybersecurity important, and this piece from North Dakota University briefly explains the future of security. 

Cyberattacks are a threat for both large and small organizations alike. According to a Verizon analysis, 43 percent of cyberattacks targeted small firms. The health industry, in particular, has been a prominent target, with hackers compromising around 9.7 million health records in September 2020 alone. Let us take a look at how cybercrime has developed

In addition, 2020 saw a huge spike in attacks on personal computers where hackers were looking to steal personal information or gain access to financial accounts of individuals. For example, with the rise of cryptocurrency prices to all time highs we saw an influx of hackers looking to penetrate crypto wallets to syphon off funds. Some estimates put the losses at over $300 million in 2020 alone.

Evolution of Cybercrime:

  • • While some cybercrime cases before this, the first big wave occurred in the late 1980s with email development for communication reasons. The Nigerian prince’s fraud was one of the earliest large scams, targeting an unknown number of individuals to deceive them and collect money. 
  • With the advancement of web browsers, the 1990s saw another wave of cybercrime. This time the number of viruses and malware was increasing. The viruses got delivered through websites with bugs and questionable security. Once entered your computer, these viruses caused the computer’s speed to slow, redirect to nasty sites, and resulted in annoying pop-ups on the screen. 
  • However, cybercrime surged and took off after the 2000s with the rise of social media networks. Never before in history have people had access to this much database of other profiles and personal information.  Theft of ID became common, and thieves started accessing other people’s bank accounts and sensitive information using their information. 
  • The latest trend in cybercrime is the emergence of the global criminal industry, amounting to half-trillion dollars every year. Now the gangs of criminals operate from different countries, use sophisticated and well-established methods to target any institution, individual, or anything that has a web presence. 

Future of Cybercrime:

Cybercrime is now an industry. The frequency of cyberattacks might increase in the future. The threat is not merely limited to economics. Instead, it puts an entire organization’s integrity in question. Nearly one in every three British businesses suffered cybersecurity breaches, as per the Government’s Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019.

While the use of mobile and cloud platforms and the usage of AI technology have changed business models and services, it has brought numerous benefits. It has also introduced new security issues. Every day, new technologies emerge that create more space and an arena for hackers to assault. Some security specialists, when asked about what was their biggest concern in their businesses, majority of them responded that cybersecurity was among their top three concerns. The sheer dependence on technology is making businesses more vulnerable.

How Can Businesses Enhance Cyber Maturity?

Reports suggest that most businesses still lack resources and plan to thwart a cyberattack when the threat increases. At times, internal employees can cause significant cyber breaches due to a lack of cyber hygiene. Though the threat of cyberattacks might never go away, here are some of the things businesses can do to improve their security:

Make it a Strategic Priority: In the wake of digital transformation, businesses need to place cybersecurity in their risk profile. Both, CEO and CIO need to be involved and formulate a strategy to counter the threat. 

Everyone Should Know Basics of Cyber hygiene: Every employee should know do’s and don’ts related to cybersecurity, such as not to open phishing emails, use strong passwords, and keep away from unsafe websites. 

Improve capability of experts: Experts need to be aware of the latest trends and cyber threats and keep their skills updated. 

Conclusion:

Cybercrime is here to stay, and businesses have no other option but to learn to live with it. With the new norm of work from home, cloud technologies, and reliance on digital devices, businesses need to constantly invest in their security apparatus to keep criminals at bay. Though the threat is real, it is not inevitable. Better training of the company’s employees, learning from others’ failures, complying with regulations, and having cybersecurity experts can enable a company to reap all benefits of technology without compromising on security.