CYBERCRIME will become the defining illegal enterprise of the 21st century, and as its rise is expected to rocket in 2021 it’s important to know how to protect yourself and your devices from harmful hackers.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures by 2025, cybercrime is expected to be worth $10.5 trillion – making it more valuable than the entire economies of Britain, France, Japan, and other wealthy nations.
The pandemic has led to a boom in the illegal enterprise, with hackers praying on our increasing reliance on the digital world for our work and personal lives. Here are ten cybercrimes to beware of this year, so that your devices – and more – aren’t compromised by tech-savvy criminals.
Bait and Hook
One of the most popular crimes in the cybersphere, bait and hook scams often prey on real events to lure victims into clicking their dangerous links. Over the last 12 months, cybercriminals have prayed on the pandemic by posing as the NHS or Spanish health service to dupe victims into surrendering their security. Always scrutinise any web address claiming to be a legitimate agency – it could be a hacker.
Disguise & Conquer
Similar to bait and hooks, disguise and conquer schemes pose as legitimate business websites to steal valuable financial and personal details. Hackers will rip off the source code of popular sites, such as online retailers or entertainment providers, to trick customers into believing they’re the original. Although these scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated, it is often easy enough to tell their inauthenticity by dodgy formatting and even spelling mistakes.
Even just by entering a dangerous website, even without entering any details, your device may have become bugged by cybercriminals to compromise your privacy and finances. If you are suspicious you may have fallen into a hacker page, it is always best to run checks on your PC or smartphone to see if it has been infected.
Hackers may be good with computers, but many are also talented psychologists. Some employ these skills to monitor your online activity to deduce the best scam they can target you with – often by using your profession, hobby, or area. Be suspicious if you come into contact with a message or pop-up that seems like it’s been designed for you (even though online ad companies do this all the time, but that’s another matter…)
Today’s eye-popping online ads for products, games, and services can sometimes be too hard to resist clicking – but beware that some disreputable websites may carry compromised ads that are actually gateways to the hands of hackers.
It may seem paranoid, but it is genuinely a good idea to cover your PC’s webcam when you’re not using it for a Zoom meeting or to chat with friends. Although you almost certainly have nothing worth blackmailing you for on-screen, if a hacker can gain access to your bedroom they can find out details about you that can be used for other scams.
Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, are hailed by their investors as the golden future of financial freedom. While their libertarian ideals and soaring values are appealing for many internet users, they are also a dream come true for hackers due to their growing popularity and anonymity. The majority of cyber ransoms are paid via cryptos, while many fraudsters have taken advantage of their growing publicity to dupe victims into buying bogus Bitcoins.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
Half of all cybercrime losses recorded in 2019 were the results of BECs, whereby a hacker will infiltrate the email account of a high-ranking company member. They will study their communication style and work practises until they have the ability to mimic them, and can ask for money or data to be sent to them by an employee. Every business is advised to have the best cybersecurity within their budget.
Internet of Things
A buzzphrase that is frequently misinterpreted, the Internet of Things simply means non-traditional devices being connected to the web. These can range from high-tech cooking utensils to entire smart homes. As the Internet of Things grows alongside the rollout of 5G internet, this brave new world of interlinked devices will provide a brand new terrain for cybercriminals to target. In 2019, while the tech remains in its relative infancy, 33% percent of infected devices worldwide were not traditional PCs, laptops, or phones.
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