What You Should Know About Cybercrime

The people who commit cybercrimes are often individuals and small groups of tech-savvy hackers. They usually belong to a network of criminals who share ideas, tools, and strategies to launch successful cyber attacks. Some are also part of the dark web and sell stolen data and identities in underground markets. In recent years, government-sponsored cybercriminals with geopolitical interests have emerged. Some of the countries that sponsor these criminals include China, Russia, and North Korea. 

All cybercriminals take advantage of anonymity on the internet to commit crimes by masking their identities and location. Sometimes they may even use hacked computers or operate in countries with weak cybersecurity laws. The tools these criminals use include botnets, social engineering, DDOS, and fast flux. Even though cybercriminals can attack anyone, their favorite target is organizations that hold sensitive data, such as hospitals and credit card companies.


Who investigates cybercrime?

Currently, eight federal departments are responsible for investigating cybercrimes. The primary agency responsible for these investigations is the Department Of Justice; it has to present credible evidence in court. The Department Of Homeland Security investigates international crimes that affect entities based in the US. 

The Department of Treasury investigates financial crimes related to the use of technology. Internationally, the Department of State collaborates with global partners in strengthening law enforcement and apprehension of cybercriminals. Most of these departments forward their cases to the FBI for investigation because cybercrimes often cross state and federal boundaries.


How does cybercrime affect businesses?

Cybercrimes impose high operational costs on most businesses, like banks. The costs include acquiring firewalls and other software that identify cyber threats. Additional security costs include hiring security consultants and training staff on safety protocols. Some firms may also be forced to employ third parties to manage sensitive customer data leading to an increase in the cost of operation. Some of these costs are recurring, leading to higher costs of doing business. 

Organizations that have been hacked may lose intellectual property leading to a loss of income and competitive edge on the market. Cyber-crimes may also lead to loss of business by either disrupting operations or destroying an organization’s reputation. Research indicates that most customers may take legal action or sever relations with organizations whose websites have been hacked. 


How does cybercrime affect society?

Cybercrime can lead to financial losses for the victims. One study found that 1.5 million people fall victim to it every year. These crimes lead to a loss of around $198 for every victim, meaning that people worldwide lose an average of $100 billion to cybercriminals annually. 

Cybercriminals abuse the anonymity of the internet to engage in illegal businesses such as child pornography, cyberstalking, illicit drug trading, and identity theft. These activities jeopardize the safety of innocent members of society and create unsafe cyber environments for children.

Further, research shows that cybercrime has a profound effect on the mental health of the victims. Most victims express feelings of anger, fear, and resentment towards the criminals. Others feel guilty and blame themselves for the attack. It is also common for victims to develop a fear of digital transactions because they feel helpless when confronting a faceless enemy. 


How does cybercrime affect the economy? 

Research suggests that cybercrime costs the US economy $600 annually. Most of the losses are due to piracy and theft of intellectual property. The top-ranking forms of piracy are software and music piracy. 

Stealing is so lucrative that there are enterprises whose sole source of income is pirated content. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that such businesses are worth around $200 billion and mostly sell to the young working-class males. 


How are we combating cybercrime?

While the FBI does an excellent job investigating cybercrimes, it is better to protect your business from such criminals instead of apprehending them after the crime. That is why you should take a holistic approach toward protecting all business and customer data. 

Software companies, for example, are the most likely to be pirated because it is so easy to share passwords or download an application onto multiple devices.  This allows multiple users to work on a functioning application with only purchasing one download or license.  License protection programs like Pace AP create a unique code each time a user logs in, mitigating the aforementioned risk.  The ultimate goal of a security software is to make sure your technology is protected from cybercrime, allowing your business to flourish the way that you intended.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.