With every new advance in technology comes new opportunities, fresh experiences, alternative ways of thinking and unseen challenges too, and in recent history we've seen many new and drastic advances in technology - the internet and mobile telecommunications being two of the biggest.
The internet and cyber technology now surround us wherever we are. If you're on a plane you can access WiFi and keep on top of your work, if you go on holiday most hotels now offer high speed WiFi so you can keep connected even when you're trying to get away from it all and with advances in mobile technology, all this is now available in the palm of your hand at any waking moment.
Of course this is great, our constant connectivity allows to stay connected to the rest of the world, keep in touch with friends and family, manage bank accounts and finances, and keep on top of work and business without having to head into the office.
For all the good aspects of the internet, there are threats and dangers about how much we depend on the internet including being susceptible to cyber crime. But exactly what is cyber crime? Let’s take a look…
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What is Cyber Crime?
INTERPOL simply define cyber crime as ‘attacks against computer hardware or software’
Cyber crime can broadly be defined as falling into one or more of these three categories:
- Attacks against your device itself such as malware, viruses, botnets and network intrusion.
- Abuse such as malicious messages, harassment, exploitation or sexual grooming.
- Financial crimes such online fraud, accessing financial services or phishing.
How Does it Happen?
Cyber crime can be carried out in a number of ways, the most common methods are:
- Phishing, which is sending out emails asking for personal information and login details.
- Screenshotting, where criminals can screenshot your computer
- Keylogging, where criminals can track your keystrokes allowing them to track passwords.
- Ad clicker, allowing criminals to send you to a specific link by you clicking on an advert
- Hacking into website admin panels and personal accounts
Why Does it Happen?
Cyber attacks are low risk/high return crimes. A mere 10% of police reordered cyber crimes incidents result in a conviction
77% of cyber crime is directed at small to medium businesses, and in 2014 nearly 70% of businesses had at least one hacking incident.
Despite there being numerous ways to commit cyber crime, criminals tend to be more interested in gathering information such as employee records, personal banking information, logins, passwords and contact lists – anything that might lead them to hacking into some sort of financial gold mine.
Research suggests that should people be a victim of cyber crime 32% of us wouldn’t report it and 47% of people wouldn’t know who to report it to.
There's no doubt that cyber crime is a serious issue. Here's what our Head of Cyber Crime, Gary Broadfield had to say: “Online fraud and cyber crime is a serious and growing threat to UK businesses and individuals. As more and more of our personal and financial interactions take place on the web, opportunities for criminals have increased exponentially. The first step towards being safe online is being aware of the scale of the problem and being conscious of the simple but effective measures you can take to protect yourself.”
Estimate annual global cost for cyber crimes is $100bn
In 2011 the BBC reported that cyber crime cost the UK £27bn per year.
In the USA the average cost of cyber crime per year for the average firm is $15.4m - The global average is $7.7m
In 2015 it was revealed 8/10 of the biggest UK companies had been attacked online.
Confidential file theft has led to £9.2bn in the stealing of intellectual property, which includes designs, ideas and new concepts.
According to the Federation of Small Businesses, cyber crimes cost small firms £800m annually.
What Can You Do?
Over half of Britons that use the internet have been a victim of cyber crime in one way or another. Of all those people, only 32% report the incident to the authorities, suggesting people don’t know how to report cyber crime, or just believe justice won’t be done.
- Use strong passwords – use password checking tools to test the strength of your passwords
- Secure your computers and mobile devices
- Install the latest operating system updates
- Secure your wireless network
Where to Report Cyber Crime
- UK - Action Fraud: www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud
- USA - Internet Crime Compliant Center (IC3): www.ic3.gov
- Europe – Europol: www.europol.europa.eu/content/report-cybercrime-online