Sunday, 7 September 2008

Credit Crunch to drive UK Cyber Crime

As the effects of the “global credit crunch” starts to take hold in the UK, it is evident to me that UK focused “Cyber Crime” will sharply increase as a result. Over the past ten years the UK economy has been in a honey-moon period, and doing relatively well, with the GDP growth out pacing the rest of EU. The good and steady economic environment has resulted in low unemployment figures for much of the last decade. You really have to go back to the late 1990’s since the last major loll in the UK economy.

In comparison, mass market cyber crime for financial gain hardily existed ten years ago, and certainly was not on the radar during the last major recession in 1990’s. Over the last decade Internet access and usage for the average UK person has radically changed, thanks to the explosion of broadband, which in turn has resulted in providing cyber crime opportunities around every corner.

Within the Security Industry it is commonly known hackers have been increasinly focusing their efforts on attacks which yield financial rewards as opposed to the traditional attacks for the challenge, fun, or kudos. For example the number of original viruses being created for the sake of causing disruption, which often has no financial benefit for the perpetrator has been dropping, while attacks for financial gain for the perpetrator, such web application attacks, phishing Emails and key loggers installations have been rapidly raising in the last few years. On the back of this, the amount of personal information being placed and made available on the internet is increasing, providing a rich gold mine for cyber fraudsters and identity thieves.

There are many analysts and reports stating economic slowdown and raising employment results in increases in crime, and in particularly fraud crime. Fraud crime fits cyber crime like a glove. Putting this economy and crime trends together with the trends in security and cyber crime with financial motivation (fraud), since the last major economic slow down in the UK, I can only conclude one obvious outcome, namely the credit crunch will drive a serious increase in cyber crime in the UK. It will be very interesting to see if the future official figures on UK online card fraud reflects this trend. Just about every person I have spoken to about cyber crime fraud in recent months has themselves, or knows a family member, friend, or work colleague, who has been "done" with credit card fraud as a result of something which occurred online during the last 12 months.

So I urge everyone in the UK to buckle up their anti-malware software, check their paper shredders, to be eagle-eyed reviewing credit card/bank statements and to keep extra vigilant when online as we sail through the choppy water of the credit crunch.


Anonymous said...

When I was targetted last year for fraudulent activity on my credit card the banks just simply write the debt off. I was quite amased they dont pursue the fraudulent activity. They just seem to let it happen and move on. And we ulimately have to pay for it in the end. I think banks should be more proactive to counteract this sort of crime.

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Joseph said...

I totally agree with you. I think cyber crime will definitely increase as a result of that.

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