The NHS WannaCry ransomware attack, the Equifax data breach, the Sony PlayStation Network hack, spam emails, phishing, identify theft and transaction fraud. A few examples of cybercrime in our day to day life and the list goes on and on. While you may not be a victim of cybercrime, and hopefully never will be, you need to take heed and understand the extent of this illegal activity. Cybercrime isn’t some hacker kid getting up to mischief on a basement computer. Cybercrime is a real threat to business, particularly enterprise-scale operations. Check out our top 10 cybercrime reality checks and see for yourself. 

Cybercrime is a job

Forget the kid in the basement. The real cybercriminals are after big money, and sometimes they get it. Illicit trading of personal data amounted to £3 billion in 2017, and that figure is set to increase. Many professional hackers now see their efforts as a lucrative source of income, not worrying about who gets hurt in the process. Some work as a team or may be sponsored by governments. Estimates claim at a successful and entrepreneurial hacker makes at least £70K annually.

Cybercrime costs

With cybercriminals embracing new technologies and new internet users playing down cybersecurity, the global cost of cybercrime is spiralling upward. The Internet Society estimates that worldwide cybercrime cost $600 billion last year. Global ransomware damage, of which the NHS was a victim, exceeded $5 billion in the same period. As more and more business rely on IT systems for data storage, they offer cybercriminals greater the opportunities to attack, steal information and make a lot of money.

Cybersecurity practices

Are cybercriminals the only guilty parties? Not always. Employees are often responsible for inadequate cybersecurity housekeeping. Besides the obvious error of downloading content from dubious sites, other unwise security choices include using weak passwords, revealing passwords to colleagues, not logging out and logging into an unsecured WiFi network. Your employees need to be trained in basic online security practices to prevent ransomware attacks and other forms of cybercrime.

Cybersecurity workforce

There is some good news, albeit the result of the bad. Cybercrime will increase the already-existing cybersecurity workforce shortage. IT experts predict that by 2021, there will be 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs resulting from an exponential increase in cybercrime. Though hacking is clearly problematic, the upside is that there will be many more opportunities for those interested in an IT career.

Cybercrime and the FBI

Fun fact! The FBI has a Most Wanted List and there are 42 cybercriminals on it. Crimes range from credit card number theft and intrusion of classified government databases to tricking users into purchasing ‘scareware’ as a malware deterrent. Some of the hackers are responsible for losses experienced by a single company in excess of $100 million.

Cybercrime and BYOD 

Generation Y, the Millennials or the tech-savvy ‘Facebook and Google’ generation will make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020. And the Ys like to BYOD, or Bring-Your-Own-Device, the practice of using personal technologies such as smartphones and laptops for business. Besides the obvious cybersecurity risks of employees not adhering to BYOD protocol and accessing insecure sites while connected to the company network, Cisco reports that it is much easier for hackers to design malware for mobile devices, these forming the basis of BYOD.

Cybercrime insiders

You’ve her of insider trading. Well, there’s also insider hacking. Research shows that approximately 50% of employees steal data when they quit or are fired. Insider threats also happen on the job, although this is usually unintentional. An employee may inadvertently trust somebody with a password or pass on company information to an untrustworthy individual.

Email scams

Not so fun fact! Email attachments are the main method of delivery for malware and other forms of virus. While email scams are nothing new, they continue to be a headache for employers. They have a high success rate, possibly 90% from a hacker just sending out 10 email scams. The solution: don’t open emails or attachments from senders you don’t recognise. Never open suspicious attachments, even if they appear to come from a contact you know.

Hacktivism

Put simply, hacktivism is a form of negative activism in which cybercriminals promote any political or subversive social agenda via computer networks. Statistically, hacktivism drives about 50% of known cyber attacks. Hacktivists may employ methods including distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS), in which a website is flooded with so much traffic that temporarily shuts down, and also data theft, hijacking social media accounts and the use of worms to spread protest messages.

Internet expansion

The internet is getting bigger, no surprise there. Currently, 50% of the world’s population, or 3.5 billion people, are internet users. The projected global population for 2022 is 8 billion. By that time, an astonishing 6 billion people will be accessing the internet. Looking at this another way, 75% of the planet will be vulnerable to cybercrime. No one is immune.