Cybercrime – A Growing Threat Globally

Cybercrime - A Growing Threat Globally
Surge in Cybercrime Rate Suggests Deeper Attention

The Internet is one of the rapidly developing technical infrastructures. In the current age, information and communication technologies (ICTs) are present everywhere and the world is becoming more digitized. The demand for Internet and computer connectivity has resulted in the integration of computer technology into almost everything including cars, buildings, electricity supply, military services, and more. ICTs penetration into various aspects of life has led to the creation of an information society which offers great opportunities. Online banking, shopping, the use of mobile data services and others show how far the integration of ICTs into our daily lives has advanced. Nonetheless, the progress of information society is associated with serious threats. Attacks against the Internet and information network or cybercrime can harm the society in numerous ways. Cybercrime may threaten a nation’s security and financial health. Issues related to this crime have become prominent, especially those associated with hacking, child pornography, copyright infringement, and more. There are also issues of privacy where confidential data is disclosed.

Cyber-crime has been growing all over the world and has taken different forms over the years. The WannaCry attack was a global cyberattack that took place in May 2017. The ransomware worm took over infected computers and encrypted the contents of their hard drives. It then demanded ransom payments in the Bitcoin currency to decrypt them. What made WannaCry scary was the way it spread. It exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows by employing a code that was secretly created by the U.S. National Security Agency. The exploit named EternalBlue was stolen and leaked by a hacking group called Shadow Brokers.

Petya was another ransomware which began circulating through phishing spam in 2016. It encrypted the master boot record of infected machines, making it hard for users to gain access to their files. In June 2017, a more toxic version of the malware started propagating. It varied from the original version and was named NotPetya. NotPetya is believed to be a cyberattack from Russia against Ukraine.

These cases of attacks only call for an increased protection on the internet user’s front. Microsoft, an American multinational technology company recently announced the release of advanced protection capabilities to its Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal platforms. The new security features announced by the technology giant for Office products include Word, Excel, Outlook, OneDrive, and PowerPoint, which aim to protect its subscribers from various types of viruses, ransomware as well as phishing scams. These protection capabilities aim to look after three things to protect individuals and families from online threats, including file recovery from malicious attacks like ransomware, tools to help keep user information secure and private, and advanced protection from viruses and cybercrime.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently released a new framework with the aim to prepare ministers, agencies and law enforcement for a major cyberattack. The framework is a manual for emergency procedures and less severe events, mentioning which body is responsible for taking action for various levels of attacks, as well as what those bodies are supposed to be doing. A category 1 attack is one where a national cyber emergency must disrupt critical services and impact national security or cause severe economic, social impacts, or loss of life. A category 2 attack refers to the one which has a serious impact on central government, UK essential services, a large proportion of the UK population, or the UK economy. Category 3, 4, and 5 are determined by the size of private or public-sector organization impacted. Category 6 attacks refer to attacks on an individual or early activity aimed at a medium-sized organization.