Securing the Digital World

Recognizing and Combating Cybercrime: A Virtual Chat

Oct 20, 2016 | by Heidi Bleau |

The goal of cybercrime doesn't change, but the tactics do. This week's theme for National Cyber Security Awareness Month is Recognizing and Combating Cybercrime. One of the questions to be addressed is: What are cybercriminals looking to gain from attacks? With the impact of cybercrime costing the global economy about $445 billion in 2016, which is more than the market cap of many of the world's largest companies, it is clear what cybercriminals hope to gain.

When we look back at 2016, here are some of the most notable tactics we saw:

  • Exploiting human weaknesses to steal data. In spite of all the training to increase awareness among consumers and employees, people remain the weakest link, too easily influenced by phishing emails and social engineering attacks. In 2016, RSA identified that a new phishing attack every 30 seconds, yes seconds. In turn, cybercriminals leverage the information they steal to commit identity fraud or even sell the data on the web to the highest bidder in order to commit similar crimes.
  • Holding encrypted data for ransom. Ransomware was rampant in 2016. Whether targeting individuals or businesses, it is the most profitable cybercrime scheme, with an average take of $300 to $500 per victim. This particular tactic has cost businesses more than $200 million just in the first half of 2016 alone. While more companies than ever are paying up, others are busily ramping up their backup cloud and disaster-recovery procedures to avoid having to pay ransom to retrieve their data. In a recent alert, the FBI found that the amount of ransom demands increasingly vary based on the attacker's estimation of the value of the data being held hostage, and/or the ability of the victim to pay the going rate of the data based on its worth.
  • Manipulating social media for profit. The use of social media as a cybercrime attack vector is hardly new. For years, fraudsters have used social platforms to target users with phishing attacks, distribute malware, and conduct data mining of intended victims in an attempt to gather personal information. What has changed, however, is the growing use of social media as a communications channel for fraudsters. Illicit activity is happening in plain sight, even among popular social media channels as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. Over 50% of the cybercrime activity occurring on social media, and studied by RSA, is related to selling and trading of stolen cards and cashout services.

This is just a preview of some of the questions we will be discussing in an online chat moderated by @StopThinkConnect, with the National Cyber Security Alliance on Thursday, October 20, using the hashtag #ChatSTC. To learn more about how to recognize and combat cybercrime, follow #ChatSTC and help spread the word to increase understanding of, and participation in, National Cyber Security Awareness Month. We hope to see you online!