“21st Century Cybercrime – The Evolution of Protecting Your Data”
The relentless development of technology has facilitated an increase in cybercrime, affecting individuals and businesses in different ways and to differing degrees. Since the advent of the internet the protection of data has been of paramount importance, however, the development of various technologies has made the protection of data more and more difficult to ensure. In the UK alone, cybercrime was found to cost organisations on average £2.1million per year with an average of 41 cyber-attacks per week.
Back when the internet age was still young, cybercrime was hacker led, largely committed by individuals hoping to prove the existence of glitches in operating system. An example of such was Moonlight Maze when hackers targeted military information held by the Pentagon. Proving the glitch was an end in itself.
As technology has advanced, however, cybercrime has become the domain of organised gangs seeking financial gain from their crimes. The cybercrime network is today a legitimate and sophisticated business with technical innovators at the top.
Information theft is increasingly common, with gangs infiltrating computer systems in order to extract the personal data of users. One headline grabbing infiltration occurred in 2011 when marketing giant Epsilon had their email lists hacked; those lists comprised customers of large firms such as Citibank and JP Morgan. The criminals used these email addresses for phishing.
The development of third party cloud storage technology has assisted cyber criminals as large batches of data are now so often stored within one cloud. It is essential that companies separate out their data across multiple storage options. Experts have indeed highlighted that cloud data is especially prone to crime due to a lack of security measures. For personal cloud storage it is essential to protect your data by using two-step verification if it is available.
The continued technological advancement of smart phones also poses an opportunity for cyber criminals. Criminals employ those techniques used on PCs alongside new smart phone specific approaches. In particular, social networking apps which hold a wealth of personal information which are often exploited by cyber criminals. The best protection against this both on smart phones and computers is to remove all personal details from your account and lock down your security settings. Worryingly, anyone can develop and retail an app, even criminals. Some users may ‘root’ or ‘jailbreak’ their smart phones. This is the ability to tamper with a phone’s operating system.
A recent study found that the industry most susceptible to cybercrime is the travel industry. This is largely down to a change in consumer behaviour, with more and more people booking their travel online. Social attitudes today mean that people are far more willing to input bank details online and do not recognise that their details are data easily accessible by criminals. There are simple ways in which consumers can protect themselves such as researching the holiday company to ensure it is reputable and pay for holidays using a credit card.
By Akash Valand
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