EU Companies Need to Prepare for More Malware and Ransomware Attacks, Europol Report Finds

No one will be surprised to find out government agencies consider cybercrime one of the top priorities these days. Europol, Europe’s leading intelligence agency, has released its new report on organized crime within the European Union. Several key threats have been identified, with cybercrime being of the utmost concern to officials right now. Cyber criminals are an integral part of organized crime, that much is certain.

Europol Identifies The Top Key Threats

As one would come to expect, organized crime groups have evolved over the past few years. While corruption, money laundering, and document fraud are still of the utmost importance, all of these threats have taken on a digital aspect as of late. Cybercrime is a pressing concern and things are only getting worse as more time progresses.

To be more specific, organized cyber crime has shifted to different areas as of late. Child exploitation, payment fraud, data trade, and distribution of malware are just some of the new threats which have surfaced in the past few years. Interestingly enough, corruption in sports betting is another area of revenue for organized crime gangs these days. No specific mention has been made of bitcoin being involved, though.

With so many enterprises migrating to the cloud accessing important and sensitive information has become somewhat easier for cyber criminals as of late. Especially in the European Union, criminal activities are often facilitated by fraudulent documents. Most of the information required to forge these documents is obtained through data breaches and other forms of attacks. Since all of this information exists in digital format, hacking a centralized service is usually enough for criminals to get a treasure trove of data they can exploit.

The darknet is also identified as one key issue by Europol. The online trade of illicit goods has been on the rise for some time now, especially where drugs and illegal firearms are concerned. Digital goods are becoming more prevalent too, with the explosion of malware and ransomware being sold on the internet at affordable rates. Crime-as-a-service is a very real business model, which should not be underestimated by any means.

Other illicit goods circulating on the internet are exploiting coding and botnet toolkits. While ransomware is the top concern for Europol right now, it is good to see the agency touch upon other popular online services and tools that need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Interestingly enough, a lot of these “changes” are driven by geopolitical events. Organized crime and state-sponsored hacking are closely entwined these days. Rest assured such attacks will only become more prevalent in the coming years.

The bigger question is how the European Union should respond to these emerging threats. It is virtually impossible to focus on all of these attack vectors at the same time. Not preparing for what may happen will affect every aspect of day-to-day operations, though, including intellectual property, payment fraud, and money laundering. Companies will need to establish a proper budget to nip all of these threats in the bud, that much is certain.

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