Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Cybercrime: A growing global problem

Cyber crime is a real and growing threat. As people do more business online, criminals are developing ever more sophisticated ways to break into systems and steal information, take control of computers and defraud companies and individuals. This is a real worry for many business owners as cyber crime moves further into the sphere of organised gangs and identity theft. 

Cybercrime refers to any type of criminal activity that uses computers or the web as a tool to steal money, goods, information or other assets, such as botnet, fast flux, zombie, skimmers. Criminals often prey on smaller businesses, with malware, spam and all manner of emerging threats, as small businesses often forget to implement basic security measures.

Most cyber crimes are committed by individuals or small groups. However, large organized crime groups also take advantage of the Internet. These "professional" criminals find new ways to commit old crimes, treating cyber crime like a business and forming global criminal communities. Fortinet's 2013 cybercrime report concludes that cybercriminal organizations are pretty much indistinguishable from any well-run, legitimate business operating in a global industry. They are organized, highly motivated, and react quickly to new opportunities and challenges by buying or renting specialist products and services if they don't have the necessary skills in-house.

Criminal communities share strategies and tools and can combine forces to launch coordinated attacks. They even have an underground marketplace where cyber criminals can buy and sell stolen information and identities.

On April 23, 2013, the Associated Press’ Twitter account was hacked to release a hoax tweet about fictional attacks in the White House that left President Obama injured. This erroneous tweet resulted in a brief plunge of 130 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, removal of $136 billion from S&P500 index, and the temporary suspension of their Twitter account. Although all executed trades were considered final, the Dow Jones later restored its session gains.

In January 2012 experienced a security breach after as many as 24 million customers' credit card numbers, personal information, billing and shipping addresses had been compromised. One of the highest profiled banking computer crime occurred during a course of three years beginning in 1970. The chief teller at the Park Avenue branch of New York's Union Dime Saving Bank embezzled over $1.5 million from hundreds of accounts.

In 1983, a nineteen-year-old UCLA student used his PC to break into a Defense Department international communications system.

It's very difficult to crack down on cyber criminals because the Internet makes it easier for people to do things anonymously and from any location on the globe. Many computers used in cyber attacks have actually been hacked and are being controlled by someone far away. Crime laws are different in every country too, which can make things really complicated when a criminal launches an attack in another country. With a better understanding of cybercriminal activity and an appreciation of the threats cybercrime poses, businesses can make their defenses more effective.


1 comment:

Supriya Bajaj said...

While the rate of cyber crime is ever increasing in this digital world, clearly supported by this blog, I came across some simple measures to minimize the threat:

1) Delete old accounts / apps that you might not be using anymore
2) Opt-in for 'Do Not Track' features on browsers
3) Use 'private' option for browsers
4) Use the 'Tor' network ( can be downloaded free at
5) When on public networks, set firewall security level to highest. This will block intrusive attacks.
6) Monitor list of installed apps to find any suspicious programs which may be spyware.
7) Be careful not to fall prey to any phishing attempts.

While these dont provide close to perfect protection, they definitely do help!