Cybercrime is an activity that has harmed many people over the years. We’ve reached a point where many of us believe we would never fall for it, but cybercrime is rampant, and more of us are witnessing scams than ever.
There are a variety of different ways that scammers work now. Malware getting installed on victims computers is one way, but it isn’t the only method. Phishing emails, texts and websites are being talked about all over the internet.
Scammers design phishing messages to look like real websites and emails. When a person receives them, they’re asked to click on a link and fill in some information. The scammer can then use this information in any way that they want.
Internet security firm PPC Shield have seen these scams and wanted to see how they affect people. They have reports from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau from January onwards.
Cyber Crime Patterns in the UK
When it comes to cybercrime, we’ve all come across scams at least once or twice. Though we don’t fall for them most of the time, you may fall for one at some point. The majority of cybercrimes in 2021 were committed through phishing scams. That is when they send you an email or a link to a site where you’re asked to fill in payment information or passwords. Once a scammer has this information, they can steal your money and hack into other accounts.
Fraudulent use of social media, email scams and hacking are examples of cybercrime. Together they account for 43% of all cybercrime incidents reported in the UK in 2021.
Who is being targeted?
When people think of cybercrime, they assume the victims don’t understand technology. Scammers must choose them as they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a real and fake website. But the statistics seem to suggest otherwise.
Since the beginning of the year, the primary targets of cybercrime appear to be younger. They tend to be tech-savvy and under the age of 40. 5000 people within that age group have reported that they have been a victim of cybercrime. These are people that you wouldn’t expect to click on a link that would install a virus. Phishing scams are getting cleverer, and scammers are getting more successful at making their messages look real. That leads to people not checking to see if the email is coming from who it claims to be.
Businesses are also affected by cybercrime. Since January, 10% of the total number of victims have been companies. Email addresses are usually easy to find on websites with other details. It might not be difficult for a scammer to replicate a message that a business will want to respond to.
How do people know they’ve been a victim of cybercrime?
One in three people only discovered they had been a victim of cybercrime through their banks. Fortunately, banks do report transactions that seem suspicious to the account holder. But sometimes, they can still slip through. A person might only know they’ve been a victim when they check to see what they’ve been spending. In turn, that could make it difficult to track where someone stole their details.
Other people may realise if they think back on a form they’ve filled in. If they go back and check their emails or history, they may notice something isn’t right. If they’ve already filled their details in, they’re too late.
If you think you’ve been a victim of cybercrime whether due to missing money or anything else, report it. You will want to freeze your bank account and change your passwords to protect yourself. If you think you may have been a victim but have no proof. You should change your details anyway to be safe.
How does cybercrime affect victims?
When you’re a victim of a crime, it can affect the way you live your life. Everyone has a different reaction. ONS data from the Crime Survey for England and Wales states that 72% of victims felt that they had been affected. Almost a third of people had a moderate or severe reaction to what had happened. The majority of these people experienced anger or annoyance.
With a loss of money and the need to make changes to protect themselves again, anger makes sense. But a further 1 in 10 of these victims showed signs of anxiety or depression. Not being able to sleep was a common symptom that these people reported.
Cybercrime might not be a violent crime, but it is still theft.
How is cybercrime being committed?
A few years ago, the majority of cybercrime was committed using malware. These are programs that people would usually accidentally install from a link. There were different kinds of malware, but they always took private information.
Cybercrime has since adapted, although it is still often committed through emails. Where before people would get you to click links to install something, they now take you to fake pages. On those pages, you submit information like your card or bank account details. The page will provide those details to the scammer without them having to wait for you to use your card again. They may also steal your passwords that they can access through this scam as well.
Social media phishing is also more of an issue than it used to be. People mock-up fakes that look like social media pages and steal your information. With your login, they can then get information about other people to steal their details. On social media, we don’t think of phishing as often. We certainly don’t think of businesses getting scammed on social media. But as well as being a chance to connect with others, it also gives scammers more opportunities to steal.
Is cybercrime evolving?
The way that cybercrime is changing suggests that is evolving. Most cybercrime has involved emails expecting a response. Now people are being sent messages with phishing links.
These emails are more sophisticated than they used to be, and they can slip past spam filters. The scammers will spend time looking at the official message and can copy it almost exactly. In some cases, the only way to tell it’s fake is by looking at the email and not the name associated with the account.
Scammers are using these phishing sites and emails far more regularly than they used to. Malware is at its lowest reported figure since 2007, according to the Google Transparency Report. Meanwhile, reports of phishing sites have gone up by 750% in the same amount of time.
How much money has been lost to cybercrime?
The total that British people and businesses have lost in the last eight months adds up to £5.7m. This was spread across 14,883 different incidents. The number of incidents and the amounts lost highlight how serious cybercrime is.
Fewer businesses tend to be the victims of these crimes, but they lose large amounts of money when they are. In total, businesses have lost £1.9M since January. That accounts for a third of the total loss across the United Kingdom.
Fewer businesses get targeted. But the financial losses rack up the total loss quicker than those of individuals.
How can people protect themselves?
It can be difficult to know what to do when it comes to cybercrime. If a website or message looks and sounds real, you are likely going to believe it. Especially if you’re busy and are quickly checking your email. If you’re expecting a parcel and then you get an email saying your parcel can’t be delivered because of costs. You would likely believe it.
In the end, it comes down to being suspicious and knowing how the services work. If you get an email or text claiming to be a reputable company, look into whether they will contact you like this. Check the email as well. With emails, you can tell if it’s fake or not. If you’re still not sure, then you can Google it. Most companies will have a contact email on their website. Even if a different department from the contact email messages you, you can see if the domains match or not.
Other things to keep an eye out for are spelling mistakes and how they refer to you. If there are mistakes or the company isn’t referring to you in the way they usually do, you can assume that it’s fake.
Keep an eye out and report any scams that you see so other people can have prior warning.