Year in Review: Top Five Cyber Crimes of 2016 and What’s Ahead in the New Year

David Lindsey, Attorney at Law

2016 was a busy year for cyber criminals and nobody expects things to slow down in the near future. What were some of this year’s most common crimes?

1. Many of the cyber crimes committed in 2016 involved ransomware. Often, ransomware was used by less experienced cyber criminals to restrict access to data and demand a “ransom” payment. The use of ransomware on mobile devices was also on the rise this year and expected to continue in the New Year.

2. As predicted, criminals took advantage of cloud services protected by weak corporate security policies in 2016. The cloud continues to grow with the amount of confidential business information it houses, and more and more businesses are putting their financial information, business strategies, acquisition and divestiture plans, and employee data at risk.

3. As automobiles become increasingly cyber-friendly, cyber crime risks also increase. Vehicle makers are working to improve IT security by developing standards and technical solutions to protect attack surfaces, including vehicle access system engine control units (ECUs), engine and transmission ECUs, advanced driver assistance system ECUs, remote key systems, passive keyless entry, V2X receiver, USBs, OBD IIs, remote link type apps, and smartphone access.

4. Personal information stolen by criminals is being linked together in big data warehouses, creating a valuable collection for cyber attackers to trade and sell. This is expected to continue in 2017, as criminals continue to develop an even more robust dark market for stolen personally identifiable information and usernames and passwords.

5. Integrity attacks were on the rise and 2016 saw stealthy, selective compromises to the integrity of systems and data. Attacks such as these involve seizing and modifying transactions or data to help perpetrators. An example of an integrity attack is the changing of direct deposit settings for a victim’s paychecks, so the money is deposited into a different account.

What’s on the Horizon and 2017 and Beyond?

Cyber criminals are expected to improve their detection-avoiding abilities by targeting new attack surfaces, employing more sophisticated methods of attack, and evading security technology. There is also expected to be an increase in attacks on wearables.

There is also growing concern for corporate cyberespionage. Cyber security experts McAfee Labs is predicting the dark market for malware code and hacking services could enable malware to be used for financial intelligence-gathering and the manipulation of the financial markets.

As the transition continues to digital storage of data, opportunities for cyber criminals to take advantage increases. Criminals are also expected to form better organized networks that allow them to share stolen information and receive compensation for sharing that data.

The growing complexities not only put individuals and businesses at risk, it also creates confusion for law enforcement and the judicial system. The likelihood of someone being accused of doing something wrong or unintentionally committing a crime is greater, based on the various ways there are of breaking cyber laws. If you have questions about any of the latest trends in cyber crime or you need to speak to someone about allegations against you, contact David Lindsey to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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