Cyber crime has been around for a while now. A lot of us have been affected by it, whether someone stole our credit card information, hacked into our computer, or surreptitiously installed malware on a network. With the constant use of smart-electronic devices in today's world, it is uprising that cyber crime is not more common. Well, according to recent reports, cyber crime is becoming more a of an everyday occurrence. The latest numbers show that cyber crime is on a steep rise on a global basis.
How Much is Too Much
Several reports suggest that cyber crime is now starting to get out of hand. As many of us turn to using cloud storage for business and personal data, we are seeing a whopping 152% increase in security breaches for cloud systems. These breaches are not just affecting online storage systems like Dropbox or Onedrive, they are actually gaining access to devices connected to these systems as well. This means that your cell phone or PC could be accessed remotely and data could be downloaded without your knowledge by a cyber-criminal.
Use of cloud connected devices is set to grow substantially, meaning that cyber thieves will have a pretty big playground in the next few years. For example, it is expected that the number of users of wearable devices and smart-home devices will climb to 30 million in the next half decade. Cyber criminals must be salivating at the mouths when they learn how many devices will be at their disposal.
The Geographical Hot Spots for Cyber Crime
The cradle of technology is also ground zero for cyber crime attacks. The Golden State of California consistently ranks as the highest U.S. attraction for cyber criminals. California's technological, financial, and educational hubs are the most targeted institutions around. State Attorney General Kamala Harris recently reported that the "size and strength" of the economy is what makes the state so attractive. In the state's capitol, a Sacramento criminal lawyer mentioned that many gangs and criminal organizations seem to be relying more on cyber crime to fund their unlawful enterprises. Prosecutors and defense lawyers alike think the transition to cyber crime is promoted by a desire to avoid committing "street offenses" which are much easier detected and often carry harsher sentences. All in all, the combination of foreign and local criminals abusing cyber crime in California has resulted in a massive money laundering scheme which amounts to around $40 billion per year. The main solution for the California Legislature is to create stricter laws that allow law enforcement agencies to freeze banking transactions and assets. Such laws would make it more difficult for criminals to do hit and run style attacks on California institutions and corporations.
Our Cars Are Getting Hacked Now
Last year, hacking arrived onto a new frontier. Jeep owners were surprised to find out that hackers had gained access to the on-board computer system for the Cherokee models. This meant that hackers could control almost every aspect of the vehicle from braking, steering and transmission control. This is example where cyber crime has gone beyond just monetary damage and is quickly becoming a life and death matter.
Realistically, these types of hacks should be expected as we allow electronics to control more and more of our daily lives. Smart cars seem to especially susceptible to attack because they use relatively new technology, and are often connected with outside devices such as the driver's cell phone, tablet and laptop. With so many different electronic devices connecting to the same hub, it can be difficult to ensure that each one meets the correct security protocol. Any weak leak in the chain could mean that a cyber attack is imminent.
Hacking Your House
If cyber attacks on cars wasn't enough, hackers are now also focusing their efforts on smart appliances inside the home. Things like smart t.v.'s, smart appliances, and smart watches are susceptible to intrusion by cyber hackers. The big problem here is that most consumers aren't even aware that these devices pose a risk. Most people know that PC computing carries a risk and they do what they can to install anti-virus and anti-malware programs. But when it comes to some of the newer devices on the market they are not even aware of the extent such devices are connected to the internet or a local network. Therefore, consumers are less likely to pay attention when it comes to maintaining secrecy or monitoring suspicious activity.
Schools Are Becoming Cyber Targets
Schools are also becoming more and more technologically advanced. Use of tablets and smart TVs in schools is the wave of the future. As such, these devices in the hands of children are subject to all of the risks described above. However, there is a new threat facing schools that is rather unique. Criminals and pranksters are using technology to issue threats against schools prompting the mass evacuation of students and the cancellation of school days.
We saw this happen on a large scale with the recent cyber threat made against the L.A. County School District. Since the threat was made from a fake email account, school officials had no way to verify the threat or determine its source. After an extensive investigation by the FBI, it was found that a man in New York was responsible. It's amazing that this man was able to shut down an entire school system just by using a free email account. It goes to show how easily cyber crime can cost individuals and the government millions of dollars just by a single touch of the mouse.
Summarizing the Increase in Cyber Crime
Cyber crime is now becoming the preferred method for criminal activity. Society's continued reliance on smart devices is one of the main driving factors. As we open ourselves up more to technology, and integrate more into our daily lives, we provide more opportunities for criminals to act. Businesses and governments are already spending billions per year to try and combat this problem. However, the constant production of new devices make it difficult to keep up with the times. Perhaps the best solution is for us, the consumers, to use the devices and not let the devices use us. We need to be more conscious of what we store in our personal electronics and remain on alert for anything out of the ordinary.