Cyber crime is no longer a cottage industry like it once was. You don’t need thousands of pounds to afford malware software. You don’t need specialist knowledge. You don’t need to be part of a massive criminal organisation.
Cyber crime has hit the mainstream and is now one of the biggest risks to businesses and individuals. The rise in commercial cyber security businesses and packages is a very visible sign of this.
The Financial Fraud Action group UK estimates that financial fraud cost the UK nearly £755 million in 2015, which is an increase of 26% on the previous year. The fraud prevention organisation Cifas state that 125,000 individuals were affected in 2014.
But why are we seeing this increase?
It’s simple. In the same way that music or film piracy has become mainstream, so has the software needed to carry out fraud attacks on your data. The malware software used to cost thousands of pounds but can now be found for free. Forums and YouTube videos are easily accessible with instructions on how to carry out attacks. It has become easy to access software and information for anyone whether you are seven years old or 70.
The news is littered with new breaches on a daily basis. One of the biggest breaches in the past 12 months was Talk Talk. We saw Talk Talk compromised last year by one individual who accessed the data of thousands of UK consumers. This attack was allegedly carried out with someone with limited cyber fraud knowledge or experience.
Medium sized businesses have become targets with regards to a new type of attack called ransomware. This is a type of malware software that is installed onto a computer without the users knowledge. It then infects the system and restricts access, demanding a ransom from the user before the restrictions are lifted. It is a lucrative business. But it is accessible and the usability of it is surprising.
Smaller businesses also experience this risk as they struggle to afford the security infrastructure those larger organisations like the banks can. Lots of these smaller businesses do not think that they carry interesting enough information for attackers, but these attackers are not fussy. They treat every hack as a win. It is a game and one we need to start getting better at winning.
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