Europol’s recent report on the cybercriminal economy highlights eight big cybercrime trends that are likely to continue in the foreseeable future. The report also stresses that the scope, volume and material cost of cybercrime remain on the rise and have reached very high levels. Cybercrime offences may have even surpassed traditional crimes in some EU countries.
The reason behind this increase is twofold. On the one hand, low digital security standards and practices by individuals and businesses alike contribute to the problem. Many cybercrime activities simply recycle old techniques for which security solutions already exist, but are not used. On the other, there is a marked shift in cyber-facilitated activities relating to human trafficking, terrorism and other threats. And finally, it seems that cybercriminals adapt quite well to exploit our growing dependence on new technologies and the Internet.
The eight cybercrime trends that the report identifies are:
The digital underworld is well supported by a Crime-as-a-Service model that connects providers of cybercrime tools and services with organized crime groups. Terrorist groups clearly have the potential to access this model.
The threat of ransomware has continued to grow and expanded into new sectors such as healthcare. Together with banking Trojans, it remains the top malware threat and that trend is unlikely to change soon.
To learn more about ransomware, go to <Everything you Need to Know about Ransomware>.
3. The criminal use of data
Data is the key commodity for cybercriminals. Data is stolen for immediate financial gain, as part of more complicated scams, encrypted for ransom (ransomware attacks) or used directly for extortion.
4. Payment fraud
Logical and malware attacks against directly against ATMs continue to grow, though industry measures such as EMV (a global standard for credit and debit card payments based on chip card technology) and geo-blocking (geographically-based restrictions) have made an impact on card fraud. Payments involving contactless card also start to be compromised.
5. Online child sexual abuse
Anonymous payment systems together with encrypted platforms for sharing media have contributed to an increase in the live streaming of child abuse.
6. Abuse of the Darknet
The Darknet continues to enable the work of cybercriminals involved in a range of illicit activities. It provides access to available cybercrime tools and services together with illicit goods such as firearms. Criminal groups don’t use cyber techniques to commit attacks that much, but with the opportunities the Darknet offers, this may change.
7. Social engineering
There is an increase of phishing attacks aiming for high value targets. SEO fraud, a type of spear phishing, has become a key threat.
8. Virtual currencies
They help cover tracks so Bitcoin has become the preferred payment method for criminal products and services in the digital underworld. Bitcoin is also used for extortion payments.
All in all, the relentless growth of cybercrime makes it a real and significant threat to collective security. However, this year also saw improved partnerships between industry players and law enforcement agencies leading to the disruption of major cybercrime groups as well as to new prevention programmes.
As usual, prevention is better than cure.
To read more on why cybersecurity is important, go to <Cybersecurity – one of the hottest topics nowadays>.