The 2015 Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) has revealed that the number of “publically disclosed” data breaches this year has increased significantly, leading to secondary crimes wherein the breached data is used for extortion, identity theft, fraud and other similar offences.
The 2015 law enforcement-centric IOCTA report, put together from views and experiences of EU law enforcement agencies shows a trend that’s common among cybercrime all over the world.
The annual report is a presentation by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), focusing on the cybercrime threat landscape in EU member states.
The complete IOCTA report is available for download here (.pdf).
Cybercrime Is a Growing Threat
Cybercrime that used to be stealthy and subtle is now turning hostile and aggressive, with a surge of incidents wherein ransomware and DDoS attacks are becoming common. Such a confrontational approach to cybercrime has organized crime written all over it, according to the report.
Notably, cybercrime still is a growth industry that encompasses a diverse range of criminal activity.
‘Pure’ cyber crime such as malware is still a critical threat. A surge in ransomware attacks that focuses on encryption has firmly established itself as a primary threat targeting EU businesses and citizens.
Banking malware such as banking Trojans that steal information and the criminal use of Remote Access Tools (RATS) are a common threat targeting everyday citizens and financial institutions.
There is a decline in ‘old school’ banking Trojans such as Zeus, Citadel or Spyeye with their support withdrawn from malware engineers either voluntarily or due to law enforcement. However, this has only brought forward a new generation of malware such as Dridex or Dyre.
Highlighting changes in the attitude of industries, the frequency of publically disclosed data breaches are “dramatically increasing”.
The public knowledge of such breaches has also led to secondary crimes such as fraudulent transactions and even extortion. In certain tragic cases, extortion has led to suicides, as evidenced in the Ashley Madison breach.
There has been a decrease in card-involved fraud as cybercriminals are veering towards card-not-present fraud. Merchants and retailers are also seen embracing e-commerce further with the implementation of better security measures to combat card-present fraud.
However, malware attacks on ATMs are still evolving in novel ways.
The best security systems in the industry are still open the single biggest vulnerability there is – the human element. Social engineering attacks have grown in tandem with the Internet penetration in developing countries and remain one of the hardest attack vectors to defend.
Two-thirds of cyber espionage incidents in the past two years involve spear-phishing campaigns.
Altogether, most cybercriminals still rely on tried-and-tested exploits, malware code and methodologies like social engineering to engineer new threats rather than devising new attack methods entirely.
Law Enforcement Operations
The success of Operation Onymous meant the shutdown of Darknet marketplaces and a disruption to such activities. While the underground ecosystem has recovered in patches, confidence is low among the Darknet community after a “number of prominent marketplaces exit scams.”
I2P as a secure platform was touted as a possible destination for the Darknet marketplace, but this hasn’t happened. Instead, the Tor network remains the preferred platform for underground marketplaces.
The cryptocurrency is seen as the single common currency used by cybercriminals within the EU. Bitcoin is no longer in use specifically within Darknet marketplaces and is adopted for other types of cybercrime as well.
The advent of several anonymization technologies is being exploited for criminals to hide their tracks and protect their identities, data and payment methods.
Altogether, the assessment will help with the basis for the EMPACT operational action plan for 2016 that will focus on three areas of cybercrime – cyberattacks, payment fraud and child sexual exploitation online.
Images from Shutterstock.
Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet
Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.
Massive Data Breach
According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.
The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.
At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.
Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp
The Fall of Uber?
Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.
The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.
Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”
Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
Ethereum Prices on Track for 35% Monthly Drop
It has been a difficult month for ethereum. The world’s No. 2 digital currency has lost a third of its value over the past 30 days following a series of cyber breaches targeting vulnerable wallets and ICOs.
Ethereum Struggles to Regain Momentum
Ethereum (ETH/USD) was trading near $197.00 Sunday at 6:30 BST, according to Bitfinex. That represents a decline of around 5%. At current values, ethereum’s market cap was $18.4 billion.
The ETH/USD exchange rate has struggled throughout July, with prices briefly falling below $160.00. The decline, which amounted to a 60-day low, lured bargain-hunters back into the market. After surging back toward $250.00, the ETH/USD has consolidated below the $220-mark, which continues to offer strong resistance. On the opposite side of the spectrum, major support is located at $180.00.
A price recovery may prove elusive in the short-term, with the Relative Strength Index (RSI) and Stochastic indicator signalling weak underlying momentum.
Despite its recent decline, ethereum’s value has surged more than 2,200% this year.
Cyber Attacks, SEC Weigh on Market
The ethereum network suffered a large-scale cyber breach earlier this month resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars. A community of ethical hackers quickly banded together to “rescue” hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tokens.
Blockchain-based trading platform Coindash was also hijacked during an initial coin offering (ICO). The breach exposed Coindash’s ether wallet address, resulting in the loss of $7 million worth of ether.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also taken an interest in the ethereum-based ICO market. Last week, the regulator concluded that a certain multi-million dollar token sale last year violated securities law. Although ICOs have been compared to crowd-sourcing, the SEC maintained that some tokens were in fact securities.
Analysts say the SEC ruling could impact the future of ICOs, although it remains unclear how the regulator is pursuing this market. The SEC’s July 25 press release cautions investors about ICOs in general.
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