Cybercrime Set To Double By 2020

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With the rise of the internet, organised crime has quickly taken advantage of opportunities online. Cybercrime targets individuals, businesses of all sizes and corporate networks. The ranges of personal criminal offences encompass the harvesting of data (phishing), identity theft, hacking, financial crime and the distribution of indecent and extreme material.

For businesses, hacking and Distributed Denial of service DDOS attacks are common.  Cybercrime differentiates between cyber centric, and cyber enabled. Cyber-centric crimes entail unauthorised access to computer systems- new crimes brought about through the use of technology. Cyber-enabled crimes are those which already exist, but benefit from the existence of computer- like fraud. 

According to statistics conducted by Dr Michael McGuire Prof of Criminology at University of Surrey, cybercrime is set to double by 2020: enabling crimes from human trafficking, drug trafficking, the supply of firearms and money laundering. 

The research goes on to explain that virtual currency and the rise of cryptocurrency could be the potential future of money laundering- if it remains anonymous. Cryptocurrencies such as Monero and Zcash offer near to total anonymity, with Bitcoin remaining pseudo-anonymous. 

Cryptocurrency allows criminal proceeds to be exchanged for seemingly legitimate assets or sheltered from detection by the authorities. Digital payment systems are becoming essential to those wishing to hide funds obtained through crime. 

McGuire commented that the landscape of the digital realm evolves so quickly that affluent cyber criminals are developing ever more sophisticated techniques constantly. The editor of the Financial Times Izabella Kaminska stated “the spike in digital financial crime accompanying the frictionless payments systems these technologies promote suggests criminals may be innovating as quickly, if not quicker than the authorities”.

In May, a UK hacker targeted a string of highstreets brands: Sainsbury’s, Asda, Argos, Uber, Ladbrokes and Coral, selling customer data on the dark web for £1.6m in cryptocurrencies.  The fraud operated for two and half years undetected. The offender was eventually sentenced to 10 years and eight months at Southwark Crown court. 

The Information Commissioners Office announced in June that Yahoo was fined £250,000 over a hack which took place in 2014 that affected over 515,000 UK email accounts co-branded with Sky. The personal data of 500m users was compromised during the cyber-attack; the data included phone numbers, emails, passwords, and encrypted security questions and answers. 

If you require advice on Cybercrime, email ian.anderson@isonharrison.co.uk or alternatively call 0113 284 5062

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