The changing face of cybercrime

    The world of cybercrime is constantly evolving and as online criminals become ever-more sophisticated in the tactics they employ to infiltrate and extort companies, IT and network security specialists face an increasingly uphill challenge to adequately protect companies from risk.

    In 2020, it’s estimated the costs of computer crime will exceed $1 trillion globally – partly due to our increased reliance on web technologies through the lockdowns imposed by coronavirus. Nonetheless, cybercrime has been growing exponentially over recent years and experts predict the costs could total $10.5 trillion by 2025.

    If your business relies in any way on computers, technology or the internet you need to take steps now to protect yourself. Here are just a few ways cybercrime has evolved over recent years.

    Phishing attacks

    Of all the tactics employed by hackers, phishing is the most common – and, it could be argued, the most cunning and nefarious. Phishing attacks total approximately 90% of security breaches globally and cost companies an estimated $12 billion in 2018 alone

    Phishing relies on human trust and innocence rather than exploiting particular gaps in security provision. Hackers pose as known individuals or companies, instilling faith in the user to part with sensitive personal or company details. A phishing attack will typically encourage users to part with account credentials, install a malevolent file or visit a fake web address to grant the hacker entry to privileged data.

    Ransomware attacks

    In a Ransomware attack, a hacker will gain access to important company data then lock it down. The criminal will then demand payment from the owner to regain use of their private information. Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) are particularly prone to ransomware exploitation with around 80% of all attacks in 2018 happening in this portion of the market.

    Compromised passwords

    In the modern age, it might seem astonishing that poor password protection should remain a feature in common security risks. Nonetheless, weak or shared passwords are still one of the biggest safety concerns in terms of company protection. Regardless of the risks, many employees continue to use the same easily-guessed password credentials across multiple accounts – leaving firms wide open to privacy breaches. If you grant staff access to privileged information, you should insist they use strong alphanumeric passwords. Education and strict company policies are key to avoiding password violations.


    In a malware attack, a cybercriminal will access a company’s network normally via a virus or trojan horse – typically contained in an infected web link or malicious download. Once inside, the hacker can wreak havoc, stealing or destroying important private company data. Perhaps worst of all, malware can spread between connected devices – meaning it poses not just a risk to you but also your clients and can leave you wide open to legal action.

    The takeaway

    Cybercrime remains a real and present danger to all companies that operate in the online environment. Any connected device can become a target, including your employee’s personal devices like mobiles and tablets – a problem known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

    It’s essential you employ adequate protection to shield you, your staff and your company from malicious attacks. Security breaches will affect your operations and have been known to even cause the closure of companies. While you might think you’re saving money by not integrating IT security measures into your company, it simply isn’t a risk worth taking. 

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