What drives the business of cyber crime?

Easy access to consumer data, numerous avenues to attack, technology-driven sophisticated tools, and of course the prospect of making easy money continue to fuel the growth of cyber crime

Every day, you get a spam email or message urging you to click a link to update your bank details or run the risk of the account getting closed. Every day, you get messages promising you a fortune left behind by someone who has no inheritor. Every other day, you also get an advice from your bank not to fall for such messages, as currently, these are some of the common forms of cyber crime designed to rob you of your hard-earned money and personal details.

Why such a spurt in malicious activities?

The reason behind a prolific rise in cyber crimes is not hard to guess. Cyber criminals engage in malicious activity for financial gain—at the expense of businesses and consumers. As much as it may appear hard to believe, it is every bit true that cyber criminals make ‘business profits’ worth $1.5 trillion a year. According to a study, if cyber crime were to be a country, it would have the thirteenth-highest GDP in the world.

The drivers of cyber crime:

In this digital age, when humans are practically living their lives online, they are also the most vulnerable to digital exploitation. Some of the key drivers of cyber crime include:

  • Easy access to data: As more and more people shop online and engage in numerous online services—music, games, movies, social media, and so on—they are sharing personal details while signing up, logging in or making payments. As a result, there is so much personal data strewn all over the internet that it has become a child’s play to collate all of this data and exploit it at whim. That is why there is a spurt in the incidents of data breaches, as cyber criminals can supplement their databases of verified customer details and use all of the data for identity fraud and many other crimes.
  • Ability to make money quickly: While some cyber criminals engage in criminal activities just to prove their might, more often than not the motive is financial gain. They can make easy money just by selling off the collated data on the dark web or anyone who may be interested—yes, even competing businesses. Digitization and online commerce have opened up a horizon of opportunities and avenues for monetary exploitation. Malware and ransomware have recently become popular tools among cyber criminals to force organizations into paying up large sums of money in order to continue running their businesses.
  • Availability of a resource pool: Cyber criminals have a resource pool available that they can tap into for any ‘support’ they may need to orchestrate and perpetrate a cyber attack. This full-fledged system supports the business of cyber crime and also reaps benefits. For instance, there are peddlers who buy stolen data, criminal tool-kits sellers, human laborers available for mass attacks or to act as front for criminal gangs, experts who share their ‘expertise’ with amateur wannabes—the list is rather long.
  • Technology-driven commoditized tools: Advancements in technology have provided cyber criminals with commoditized tools which are used to scale the attacks and maximize the financial returns in the shortest possible times. Cyber criminals hide behind the anonymity of the internet and use easily available spoofing tools to hide the device or network identity and wipe off their digital footprints to avoid detection.

Fighting cyber crimes

Every sector or industry that you look at today is trying to catch up with the machinations of the cyber criminals. It takes time and effort to undo the damage cyber criminals inflict on businesses and consumers. Often, businesses do not even come to know for months that their networks are compromised and that someone is moving around stealing data or planting malware or monitoring everyday activities.

To effectively fight the evolving cyber threats, businesses must look to erode the financial gains from an attack. Businesses can consider smart technology-driven solutions that can help gain better visibility into their networks, secure the endpoints, and authenticate every request in real-time.

The article has been written by Neetu Katyal, Content and Marketing Consultant

She can be reached on LinkedIn.

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