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Cybercrime on the Rise and Making Headlines – Introduction to Cybercrime


Today, more than ever, we are living our lives online. However, Cybercrime is on the rise and is making headline news on an almost weekly basis.

Whilst many attacks target high profile organisations such as Talk Talk and Tesco Bank, many more are aimed at small and medium sized enterprises, who often have not invested in security to the level required. Further articles will focus on tips aimed at improving security, but the purpose of this article is to introduce basic concepts of Cybercrime.

Typical Cybercrimes

Although offences are increasingly sophisticated, Cybercrimes can generally be categorised as:

Unauthorised control of computers

Exploiting vulnerabilities in a computer system (hacking). This covers accessing email accounts by correctly guessing a password, to sophisticated attacks designed to penetrate the most secure computer systems. The simplest threat comes from “phishing” or deceiving individuals into handing over data. Trojan horses can be used for many purposes from stealing information to taking control destroying or disrupting systems.

Denial of service (DoS)

The disruption or destruction of websites can be hugely damaging than simple theft. Consider the commercial loss if, say, a web-based retailer was taken down in a busy period.

A common method of DoS involves large numbers of individuals, or computers hijacked by malware, repeatedly accessing a website aiming to overload and crash the servers.

Another method is “ransomware”, the process of taking data and demanding a payment to release it.

Fraudulent scams and bogus websites

Another simple cybercrime involves setting up a bogus website seeking payment for goods or services that never materialise.

Non economic Cybercrimes

Cybercrime also includes political activism, nation state-sponsored or by so-called “hacktivists”, stalking and posting malicious images online.

Investigating and prosecuting cybercrime

Cybercrime can be very hard to detect. Criminals can use sophisticated methods to hide their identity and location, and heavily encrypt and disguise their criminal conduct.

The National Cyber Crime Unit of the National Crime Agency is primarily responsible for tackling cybercrime in the UK. However it is severely resource constrained and investigation and prosecution invariably require the assistance of independent experts.

Business News Wales