Between the global pandemic, the UK Health Minister's snogs on the job, and the crisis in Afghanistan, this year's headlines have kept us all on edge. Apart from these headlines, businesses and government institutions have also frequently featured in the headlines as the victims of hacking, ransomware attacks, and critical data breaches. But if only these were the only types of attacks to worry about! There is a growing list of malicious cybercrimes that you may not have heard of.
Even scarier, some of them are designed to catch you completely unaware – you may not even discover that they're happening. In this article, we give you a definitive guide to the fraud and cybercrime activity lurking in the digital shadows.
What exactly is cybercrime?
Cyber crime is a type of criminal activity that takes place online or is facilitated by the internet. For example, online devices can be used to commit a crime or enable and magnify a traditional type of criminal activity. Techniques, tools, and illegal methodologies can be applied to gain access to private information, destroy assets, bribe, coerce and exploit private and public individuals and organisations.
What are the main types of cybercrime?
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out your personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords and credit card numbers. These scammers will contact you out of the blue, via email, text message, phone call or even through social media, pretending to be a legitimate business such as your bank, telephone company or even internet provider.
The scammer may ask you to update them on your details so they can refresh their systems, they may even ask you to fill out a survey as you have the chance to win a prize at the end. But here is where the scammer can get access to your email address, phone number and more.
Another way these scammers get hold of your information is to tell you that ‘unauthorised or suspicious activity has been happening on your account, and they will then ask you for your information so they can “sort it out”.
In fact, they are going to steal from you. Phishing attacks work the same as fraudulent phone calls which people are being educated on. You may have seen recent ad campaigns like this from Barclays.
2. Online Scams
Online scams, are basically scams that happen online.
Whether that’s tricking you into giving out personal details online by an ad popping up telling you you have won something and asking for your card details to pay for shipping. Sadly, you’ll never receive anything but you’ll start noticing weird transactions coming from your bank account.
Malware is the contraction of malicious software onto your system. It’s a piece of software written with the intent of causing harm to data and devices. Malware is the overarching name for different types of viruses such as a ‘trojan’ and ‘spyware’. Malware is often done through a range of viruses that will get into your computer to cause havoc, by damaging your computer, tablet, phone; so the culprits can steal credit card details and other personal information.
4. Email Bombing
An email bomb is more a form of internet abuse. Email bombing is an overload of emails directed to one email address, this will cause the person receiving the email server to become sluggish or even crash. They may not necessarily be stealing anything from you but having a sluggish server can be a real pain and hard work to fix.
5. Virus Dissemination
This is a particularly sneaky form of cyber crime. It not only gets a piece of malware (a virus of some sort) onto one part of the victim’s system, but it spreads across other pieces of software.
Without a full and proper quarantine process and safe environment to test in (a sandbox), the next time you open a piece of undiagnosed-as-infected software, the process starts all over again.
6. Logic Bombs
Logic bombs act in the same way as a virus but are small programs or sections of a program, which are triggered by an event. This event can be a certain date or time, a certain percentage of disk space filled, the removal of a file and so on.
A program could then delete critical sections of code, rendering your software useless. The people who implement logic bombs are most commonly installed by insiders who already had access to the system.
Internet theft is the broad term for any type of theft that happens over the internet, this can be done through many ways such as fake ads, fake emails, viruses and snooping. The aim of internet theft is to steal your personal information and use it to then steal money out of your bank account or make purchases using your details.
8. Social Media Hack & Spamming
Social media hacking is often done as a joke, like an attack by the people who hacked Burger King’s twitter account. . Abd many celebrities that are hacked may end up following people they wouldn’t usually or put random statuses. Even though for the average joe seeing a celebrity or brand post weird stuff can be amusing, it’s an invasion of privacy.
However a hacker can also spread unwarranted content that can be distressing to people who view this content, it can also cause your account to be reported and shut down.
Social media spamming comes when a person makes a fake account and becomes friends or followed by the average person. This then gives the fake account the freedom to spam inboxes with bulk messaging, this can be done for spreading malware.
Spamming can also spread malicious links created with the intent to harm, mislead or damage a user or their device. Clicking on the malicious link, which may be advertising a new iPhone or weight loss treatment, means you could be downloading malware which can lead to the theft of personal information.
Another dark side of social media is the ability for malicious accounts to spam your output by constantly replying with negative messaging. A form of trolling.
Whilst you can easily report such behaviour to the social media platform and they should remove the user, or you can block them from seeing your content, it’s easy for people to set up new bot accounts in minutes and begin their attack again.
Some people have too much time on their hands.
9. Electronic Money Laundering
Money generated in large volumes illegally must be laundered before it can be spent or invested. One way to launder money is to do it electronically through messages between banks which is known as a “wire transfer”. It had previously seemed impossible to monitor or screen wire transfers as they occur due to the tremendous volume on transactions going through on a day to day basis, however, banks are clamping down on the issue and filing away any suspicious activity.
10. Sales & Investment Fraud
By sourcing the contact details and available account information for savings or investment account holders, fraudsters can adopt the persona of an investment broker. They will then contact customers to entice them with easy and profitable opportunities, but they seem a lot more trustworthy because they talk about accounts you already own and real results.
Think of it as a more thorough phishing scam.
11. Eavesdropping & Surveillance
Eavesdropping without the consent of the parties is a crime and can be done online or over the phone. The most common way to eavesdrop is to wiretap, which is the practice of connecting a listening device, usually to a telephone line, that allows the criminal to monitor conversation secretly.
As new technologies are introduced computers can now be hacked for eavesdropping and surveillance. As a random tip, take a look at, Facebook head man, Mark Zuckerberg’s painfully simple defence against would-be webcam voyeurs.
Have you spotted it? Take a closer look:
12. Software Piracy
Nowadays, thanks to the internet, you can find almost any movie, song or software for free online. Software piracy is the unauthorised use and distribution of computer software. Even though using pirated material may seem good because it’s free, it comes with a range of risks. These risks include: Trojans, viruses, worms and other forms of malware.
But it’s also stealing as no proceeds go to the producers of the content.
13. Data Diddling
Despite the humorous name and seemingly innocuous action compared to other cyber crimes in this list, data diddling is the action of skewing data entries in the user’s system.
The results can be huge, however. They might include adjusting financial figures up or down marginally, or it could be more complex and make an entire system unusable.
14. Salami Slicing Attack
A salami slicing attack, as funny as it sounds, makes sense once explained. It’s a technique used by cyber criminals to steal money or resources a tiny bit at a time, so there initially isn’t a noticeable difference to the bank account.
The criminal will do this to a number of different sources which accumulates to a considerable amount stolen over time. Salami slicing attackers generally use this technique to steal money.
In simple terms, a hacker is an intruder who accesses your computer system without your permission. Hackers do this for a number of reasons, whether that’s for greed, fame or power, as it shows people they are clever enough to get into something they shouldn’t have.
However, some will be able to break into systems and steal personal banking information and corporation financial data. Hackers tend to be computer programmers and have an advanced understanding of computers.
16. Cyber Stalking
There are many cases of cyber stalking across the world and it’s especially common with teenagers and young adults. Usually, the victim and the stalker know each other. The victim is usually subjected to online harassment in form of a barrage of online messages and emails. The aim of online stalking is to make the victim miserable or exert control as a perverse way of being in contact with the victim, just like ordinary stalking.
17. Cyber Bullying
Cyber bullying is similar to cyber stalking, however, the barrage of messages can be harmful, abusive, and wholly offensive.
Cyber bullying can also be done by posting images and videos online that will offend the victims. It can also be excluding people online, creating fake accounts to post harmful or distressing content, and again sending abusive messages. Overall it is bullying but online usually through social media channels.
18. Identity Theft
Identity theft is one of the most common types of cyber crime. The main reason identity theft occurs is with the view of creating fraud for financial gains. Criminals usually steal the identity information of others such as credit card information, addresses, email addresses and more. With this information, they can pretend to be someone else and create new bank accounts.
19. Child Soliciting & Abuse
Child soliciting and abuse online is a type of cybercrime where criminals solicit children via chat rooms for the purpose of pornography. It can also come in form of material that shows or describes sexual abuse towards children. A child is regarded as someone who is under the age of 16. This type of cyber crime is heavily monitored by the police.
It can be a threat to companies as well as individuals because the perpetrators may be looking to adopt another persona online.
Ransomware affects many companies and has recently affected the NHS and other big corporations all over the world. Ransomware enters your computer network and encrypts files, meaning you don’t have any access to them. The attacker will send you a notification demanding a large sum of money for you to then get your data back. The criminals' aim is that they will get enough people to pay to ransom fee to get a quick buck.
What Law Enforcement Protects Businesses And Individuals Against Fraud and Cyber Crime?
In the UK, the National Cyber Security Center protects and supports organisations and the wider public sector, as well as the general public. They are able to offer incident response, assist with recovery and offer advice on legal matters. You can report an incident to the NCSC or turn to the Action Fraud site for cybercrimes relating to fraud.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is responsible for the prosecution of criminal cases that have been investigated by the police or other investigative organisations within England and Wales.
Why You Need To Protect Yourself
Cyber criminals are out there and will do anything to make money and steal useful information. As we are becoming more digital, we are opening ourselves up to more and more types of cyber crime. Cyber crime, as we have discussed, can vary in severity. It's not something that businesses should take lightly as the knock-on effect could extend to your customers, too. If you handle sensitive, personal data, you risk exposing your clients to threats. This will have immediate consequences for your reputation as a trusted brand, and also potentially have a negative effect on the lives of your customers. Businesses that have fallen prey to cyber crime struggle to recover, partly because of the financial implications, but also because once trust has been destabilised, customers will remain wary and avoid returning to your services.
There are many ways to protect yourself from cyber attacks. Protecting yourself will make you less vulnerable to cyber attacks and therefore prevent you from getting your personal information stolen, robbed, having your data encrypted, and so on.
Read the Silverbug strategy to cybersecurity here and learn ways of protecting your business from cyber threats.
Is Anti-Virus Software Enough To Protect Your Business?
In short, anti-virus software alone will not be sufficient to defend your business against the multitude of threats that are continuously evolving and targeting companies of all sizes. Smart business leaders know that a strategic approach is required in order to defend your organisation from all angles – particularly as more and more employees opt for a hybrid approach to work. Relying on IT security specialists to assess your current cyber security infrastructure and formulate a customised plan that works with your particular business model is essential. You can either take their expertise and apply it with the help of your in-house security team, or you can select a managed security service that will proactively work behind the scenes to ensure your business is shielded from cyber criminals.