WHAT IS CYBER CRIME?
Cyber crime is a crime that is associated with a computer and a network, the computer must have been used in the commission of the crime or it may be the target. Cybercrime may pose a serious threat to a company, an individual, or a nation’s security and financial health. There are a lot of privacy concerns that surround cybercrime, where one’s confidential information is disclosed, lawfully or otherwise. Cybercrimes that cross international borders, including at least one nation are also referred to as cyber warfare.
CYBERCRIME DURING THE COVID 19:
The worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and the imposed lockdown had more people confined at their homes which eventually had led them to spend more of the time surfing the internet than they spend offline. The danger that is associated with cybercrime has prevailed for many years, but the percentage of people using the internet and the time spent online along with the fear of confinement and anxiety generated from the lockdown had provided a great opportunity for the cybercriminals to take the advantage of the situation and make more money and create disruption.
Common cyber crime techniques such as phishing had seen a spike during the lockdown period. PHISHING is a technique, wherein these criminals induce an individual to reveal their personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account details, etc through fake emails and numbers. New data gathered by Google and analysed by Atlas VPN showed that in January, Google registered 149k active Phishing websites whereas in February it doubled and increased up to 293k and in March to 350k- a 350% increase since January.
- Ransomware attacks have been more sophisticated and have been targeting specific organisations of the public and private sector through victim reconnaissance. The criminals have added another layer to their targeting strategy by threatening to auction off the comprised data, which would increase the pressure on the victims to pay off the ransom. The criminals have also started using advanced forms of malware which are a top threat to the general public as they have transformed some traditional banking Trojans into modular malware to cover more PC digital fingerprints, which are later sold for different needs.
- The main threats related to online sexual abuse have seen some stability but it saw a peak rise during the Covid-19 pandemic. The offenders have been using several ways to hide this horrific crime, such as encrypted communication applications, P2P networks, and social networking platforms. The live stream of child abuse has seen a continuous increase in this pandemic as covid restricted people from traveling and prevented them from physical abuse. In some of the cases, the video chat payment applications prevent the authorities from law enforcement as the material is not recorded.
- Sim- swapping is another technique that has seen a tremendous increase this year as per the records of IOCTA. It is a type of account takeover, where the criminals fraudulently port the victim’s SIM to know the one-time password step of the authentication process.
- In 2019 and early 2020 there was a high level of volatility that was seen on the dark web. TOR remains the preferred infrastructure, however, the criminals also use other methods such as decentralizes marketplace platforms, and privacy-focused platforms to sell illegal products. However, this is not a new phenomenon, it saw a steep increase during the pandemic.
Countries all across the world have reported an increase in cybercrime cases. For example, in Italy Polizia Postale, which is the law enforcement body, in charge of the cybercrime cases, reported several scams and frauds that came in the form of ads, emails, messages.
Also, a sharp increase was seen in the sale of fake and inappropriate drugs and medical equipment at very high prices to allegedly cure the coronavirus by the criminals. Concerning this, an increase in the trafficking of forged products through sponsored emails and messages, including health care and hygiene products had been recorded.
At the same time, the lockdown also saw an increase in the number of vulnerable people online. With children benefitting from e-schooling, there is also a potential threat of file share abusing and the grooming of the children for sexual purposes, parents should be aware of such dangers.
Another perpetual side effect of the lockdown was an increased demand of pornography. The industry saw an increased number of users along with concerns being raised about the vulnerable categories of people being pushed into the business, including children trafficked by their families and drug addicts.
Although the risk of attacks remains the same, the users can be vigilant by using some mitigation measures and aware of phishing emails and messages. It is also important to use double channels of communications with counterparts before transferring sensitive data or downloading a file from an email that may contain malware. Rather than just clicking links provided in the emails, it is advisable to gather information from trusted websites. Also regarding the conference calls which are nowadays being used frequently, it is important to be careful of sharing screens or sending screenshots that may contain sensitive information. Employers can make a more secure network to the company’s file setup and advice the employees to avoid using their personal computers. Lastly, educate the employees and make them aware of cybersecurity crimes and educate them about cybersecurity laws.