Cybercrime is a growing problem for businesses of all sizes and industries. With the internet and technology being used in almost every aspect of life, it’s no surprise that criminals have adapted to take advantage of this.
Businesses must be aware of the various types of cyber crimes and the potential damage they can cause to their organization, employees, and customers, so they can take appropriate steps to protect themselves.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime is any attack that uses computer networks, including the internet, as the principal means of committing an offense. Cybercriminals use hacking software and other technological means to steal data and money, defraud individuals and businesses, and disrupt services. Cybercrimes can occur when computers or computer networks are used as tools to break the law. Cybercrimes are often committed remotely, making them difficult to detect and trace.
The Damage and Costs of Cyber Crime
Cybercrime Magazine predicted that the estimated cybercrime costs will reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $3 trillion in 2015, making it one of the most costly crimes in the world.
According to the FBI 2021 internet scam report, extortion, identity theft, data breaches, non-payment and non-delivery, and phishing (including vishing, smashing, and pharming) account for over half of these damages.
Business email compromise (BEC) (also known as email account compromise (EAC)) scams accounted for $2.3 billion of the $6.9 billion. These are scams whereby an attacker impersonates a company executive or employee to trick someone into transferring funds or sensitive information out of their business, such as trade secrets, financial statements, and other proprietary information.
Aside from the financial loss, companies face reputational risk when hit with a cyber attack, as people are less likely to trust them and their products or services. Employees’ and customers’ sensitive personal information can also be compromised, exposing the company’s liability if negligence is found on its behalf.
Common Types of Cyber Crime
With the ever-evolving digital landscape, a wide variety of cyber threats can have severe consequences for businesses if not appropriately addressed. From malware and ransomware attacks to phishing and identity theft, understanding the different types of cyber crimes is the first step in protecting businesses and their data from cybercriminals.
Phishing is one of the most common ways hackers and cyber criminals steal information. Phishing scams usually involve victims pretending to be a legitimate business or organization to obtain victims’ sensitive data, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
Phishing emails are often designed to look like they are from a legitimate source, such as a financial institution, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), or a government agency, to trick individuals into providing personal information.
These scams typically involve an email or phone call informing recipients that they must update their account information immediately or risk being locked out. This type of scam has increased dramatically over the past few years because it’s easy to do and difficult to trace back to the perpetrator. Wandera – an IT security company – reported that a new phishing site is created every 20 seconds.
That is, three new phishing websites are created per minute, exposing businesses to potential threats. The best way to avoid falling victim is by educating employees on the warning signs of phishing emails and creating policies around what employees should do if they suspect an email could be fake.
Hacking is the act of gaining unauthorized access to a computer system to infect their victims’ computers or bypass security measures. Hackers – someone who uses their knowledge to exploit vulnerabilities in a computer system – can cause various problems for businesses, from breaking into their computer systems to accessing confidential data.
They might even destroy the company’s reputation by publishing private information about them and threatening the business with more. They are often referred to as hacktivists. There are three types of hacking: white hat hacking (ethical hacking), black hat hacking, and gray hat hacking.
- White hat hackers use their skills to find bugs in software before malicious users do; they report the bugs so that they can be fixed.
- Black hat hackers create programs designed to break into other people’s computers, steal information, and sell it on the dark web.
- Gray hat hackers use techniques that fall between these two extremes; they try to identify vulnerabilities in a system, but their methods may violate laws or ethical standards.
Cryptojacking is a cybercrime in which hackers illegally exploit people’s computers and networks to mine cryptocurrency. According to SonicWall data, global cryptojacking volume increased to 66.7 million in the first half of 2022, a 30% increase over the first half of 2021. The finance industry was impacted most heavily by a 269% rise.
One major problem of cryptojacking is the excessive load on CPU usage, causing systems to slow down significantly or even crash completely. Sometimes this happens before companies realize they are being attacked. Organizations can protect themselves from this type of crime by having an IT security professional periodically monitor the system for unusual spikes in CPU usage.
This cybercrime is when someone disguises their identity online to trick or defraud another. These crimes can include email spoofing, phone spoofing, fake social media profiles, and fake ads. One example is when an individual sends an email that appears to come from a colleague at work requesting sensitive information on behalf of the company’s CEO.
Spoofers may also create web pages that look related to your business but are designed to collect personal information. The best way to avoid these scams is by checking links before clicking them or sending any data. You should also be cautious about unsolicited emails asking for your password, financial account numbers, or other sensitive information.
Ransomware is a form of malware that attacks computer systems, locks data, and demands payment to unlock the data. Once a computer has been infected with ransomware, the user is typically prompted to pay a ransom to receive a decryption key needed to open the computer and regain control of the data.
The average cost of a ransomware attack is over $4 million, while destructive attack averages over $5 million. Ransomware infections can often be prevented by following basic security practices like keeping your operating system updated or avoiding clicking on suspicious links or attachments from unknown senders.
Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) is a web security vulnerability that occurs when an attacker injects malicious scripts into a trusted website or web application. XSS can allow attackers to gain control of a user’s session, steal their login credentials, and harvest valuable data.
For example, attackers may place malicious code on a compromised site that waits for an unsuspecting user to log in before executing commands that can reveal information from the victim’s machine. These vulnerabilities sometimes allow attackers to hijack a session and completely impersonate the victim’s identity.
There are three types of XSS — Stored XSS, Reflected XSS, and DOM-based XSS (Document Object Model).
- A stored XSS (Persistent) attack takes advantage of a lack of input validation and poor authentication mechanisms. Attackers use this type of exploit to upload malware or steal cookies with sensitive personal information like passwords and credit card numbers.
- A reflected XSS (Non-persistent) attack is triggered by a victim clicking on a link within the attacking site that executes a script on the victim’s browser, which contains malicious code. The victim’s browser will send the script back to the attacking server.
To protect against all three types of cross-site scripting, businesses need to adopt safe coding practices like linting and ensuring proper validation of input values.
Identity theft occurs when a person uses someone else personal information, such as name and social security number, bank account number, and credit card information, to commit fraud or other crimes. Bad actors can tarnish the victim’s good reputation, their credit history damaged, and the victim can face years of recovery from identity theft.
Identity thieves gather personal information through various methods, including hacking into computers, stealing mail, using cameras for capturing data off computer screens, and making fake copies of IDs of unsuspecting victims. They then use this information to impersonate victims and take control of their finances by accessing online banking accounts, opening new lines of credit, applying for loans in the victim’s name, and more.
To avoid identity theft, it is best to take care of all documents containing sensitive information properly: shred documents with confidential info before throwing them away, and never throw out old bills until you’ve thoroughly verified that they don’t contain any sensitive data.
Accounts Payable Fraud
In accounts payable fraud, a scammer impersonates the company’s vendor and requests payment for goods or services that were never provided. These scams are typically successful because the fraudulent invoice is sent to an accounting department that does not know the vendor personally.
Businesses are often most vulnerable to accounts payable fraud when scaling operations and moving from a small company to a medium-sized or large business. The fraudster may pose as an employee requesting funds on behalf of the company, or they can even go so far as to create fraudulent invoices that appear legitimate.
When it comes to cybercrimes, companies need to have checks and balances in place by relying on multiple people within an organization, such as requiring multiple signatures for all payments above a specific dollar amount.
Malware is programs or software designed to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information from computer systems, or gain remote computer control. Malware often goes undetected, is difficult to remove, and can cause significant damage to computer systems by infecting files, altering data, and destroying system utilities.
It’s also important to note that malware can disguise itself as legitimate software to make it easier for users to install it on their computers. Examples are viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, and adware.
This is the art of manipulating people to give up confidential information or access credentials. Social Engineering is perpetrated by posing as a co-worker, making phone calls, sending emails, and using instant messaging services to gain the victim’s trust.
The perpetrator then asks for information such as passwords and personal identification numbers (PINs). Data shows that 98% of all cyber crimes involve some form of social engineering.
Victims are not only tricked into giving up their information, but they can also unwittingly give away their company’s trade secrets and intellectual property through social engineering techniques. Having an incident response plan in place with everyone on board will go a long way toward preventing this type of crime.
Tech Support Scams
In these scams, the fraudster poses as a representative from a well-known company and calls potential victims claiming to have found several problems on the computer. These problems can range from malware to viruses that they must fix for a fee. The victim is shown a wizard that resembles legitimate errors and programs.
They are then tricked into giving remote access to their system, which allows the scammer to charge them more money or even steal personal information. The FBI reported that a couple from Maine lost $1.1 million after receiving a pop-up alert advising them their computer had been breached and there was an attempt to compromise their banking information.
Scammers target people in high-stress situations who are vulnerable and willing to pay anything to protect themselves. Victims may not realize they’ve been scammed until it’s too late because they were given software updates by the scammer that let them believe they were protected. The fraudsters convinced the couple to move money from their retirement account to Coinbase for safekeeping before cutting off all communication with them.
IoT Hacking is one of the most prevalent forms of cybercrime and can lead to physical harm. This hacking occurs when a hacker uses a device connected to the internet, such as a smart thermostat or refrigerator. They hack the device and infect it with malware, spreading through the entire network.
The hackers then use this infected system to launch an attack against other systems on the network. These attacks can often result in data theft from these devices and give hackers access to your sensitive information. The risk of IoT hacking arises because these devices are built with limited security and often have limited processing power, memory, and storage capacity. This means they are more likely to have vulnerabilities than other systems.
Software piracy is the act of illegally copying and distributing or using software without ownership or a legal permission. It can occur through downloading programs from an illegal software website, copying a program from one computer to another, or selling copies of software.
Pirated software affects a company’s profit by preventing it from making money from its products. A Software Alliance study showed that 37% of software installed on personal computers is unlicensed or pirated. With this being such a widespread global issue, it’s essential for companies to comprehensively understand how they might be affected and what solutions exist to protect themselves.
Trojan Horses are a virus that masquerades as legitimate program and installs themselves on your computer without your permission. When executed, it can do things such as delete files, install other malware, and steal information such as credit card numbers.
The key to avoiding Trojan Horses is only downloading programs from reputable sites like the company site or authorized partners.
Eavesdropping is secretly listening to or recording conversations without all parties’ knowledge and/or consent. This can occur over the phone, with a hidden camera, or even through remote access.
Eavesdropping is illegal and can put you at risk for fraud and identity theft. You can protect your company by limiting what employees share via email and in person. Encrypting conversations will also help as well as using software that prevents unauthorized users from accessing network resources remotely.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks a service or system, which floods the target with more requests than it can handle. This attack targets an organization’s website and attempts to overwhelm it by sending numerous requests simultaneously. The flood of requests forces servers to shut down, disrupting the availability of information for users trying to access it.
Hackers use DDoS as a form of protest against websites and their management, though these attacks are also used for extortion in some cases. DDoS attacks may also result from cyber espionage campaigns designed to steal data from an organization rather than destroy it.
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are a type of cyber attack that is highly targeted, persistent, sophisticated, and well-resourced. APTs are typically used to steal information from an organization for financial gain.
APTs cyber attacks can last for months or years. They infiltrate networks, extract data, and then exfiltrate it without detection. Typical targets include government agencies, universities, manufacturing firms, high-tech industries, and defense contractors.
Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO is a type of spamming where marketers will use unethical techniques to rank higher in search engine results. Black Hat tactics can include keyword stuffing, invisible text, and cloaking, which tricks the search engine’s algorithm into thinking the page is relevant when it is not.
These marketing tactics are illegal because they violate Google Search Essentials (Formerly Webmaster Guidelines) by misusing their ranking system. As a result, black hat SEOs can receive penalties or have their website removed from the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) entirely.
Protecting Against Cyber Crime
It’s essential to have a comprehensive cyber security policy in place. This should include employee guidelines on how they should behave when accessing company systems and the consequences of not following them. This policy should be clearly explained to all employees and regularly updated to ensure it is up to date with the latest security threats.
Some other steps worth considering to protect against cyber crimes include:
- Work with a professional service provider who is up-to-date with the latest technologies and processes.
- Back up all data in an offsite location.
- Update systems regularly with the latest patches and updates.
- Conduct an annual audit of your software licenses
- Use a reputable antivirus program that scans for malicious programs like viruses, spyware, worms, Trojans, and rootkits.
- Install web filtering software that blocks any illegal or inappropriate content from entering the network
- Encrypt all devices that store sensitive data to prevent unauthorized access
- Develop a process to monitor system logs automatically, so you will know if there is an attempted breach.
- Request system audits from professionals periodically to ensure your systems are not vulnerable
- Implement Data Loss Prevention technology which protects the information before it leaves the network by controlling what users can copy, paste and save onto external devices.
Organizations can protect themselves from cybercrime by implementing strong cyber security and data protection policies, conducting regular cyber threat assessments, updating software, using antivirus software, increasing employee education and awareness, and using tools that can automate cyber security processes.
Companies can also work with service providers that provide secure cloud computing environments and managed security services that can help protect against cyber attacks.