A new report regarding cyber security has been published by the FBI, which shows how businesses took the brunt of the damage caused by scams and other Internet criminality. A total of US$263m has been taken from US businesses alone, which is a staggering amount.
Cyber Threats Are A Costly Business
The overall tone of this Internet Crime Report 2015 is not very positive, to say the least. The Internet Crime Complaint Center received over 288,000 complaints during 2015, resulting in over US$1bn being stolen or lost. While most of these attacks were aimed at business and enterprises, the numbers keep going up every year.
One of the biggest culprits are the so-called Business Email Compromise crimes, ranging from email scams to computer intrusion and unauthorized transfers of funds. Despite what we may think of ourselves as a species, humans are easily tricked into opening malicious emails and attachments, even if the source looks entirely legitimate.
It is all but impossible to weed these types of attack out, though. Since there is no malicious software involved to initiate the attack, there is very little precaution to be taken. Assailants exploit the human trust factor, and in a business environment, that is far easier to do than most people would give it credit for.
The FBI report also noted how most of the fraudulent money transfers seem to pass through accounts in different countries, especially Asian regions. Most of the transfers take place after somebody receives a spoofed email from the CEO or CFO to move funds to a particular location. A minority of these attacks are occurring based on information obtained through social media, which creates opportune time windows to send these spoofed emails.
California, New York, and Florida seem to be the most popular states for Business Email Compromise attacks. But that does not mean they were the ones hit the hardest. South Carolina, for example, saw 47% of all financial losses being related to this type of criminal activity.
Oddly enough, ransomware is not one of the big culprits. Despite receiving 2,453 ransomware complaints, losses amounted to just US$1.6m in 2015. Comparing these numbers to phishing – US$8m – and malware attacks – US$3m – ransomware is just a blip on the radar.
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