Our Wired World

Cybercrime Damages to Reach $27 Billion by 2025, New Estimation Reveals

Do ‘lockdowns’ provide a catalyst for hackers?

New research from Atlas VPN (virtual private network) warns that cyber-crime is on the rise. Read the full report here.

In 2019, authorities received a record-breaking 467,361 Internet-facilitated fraud complaints, with accumulated losses exceeding $3.5 billion. Yet, in 2020, lockdowns might act as a catalyst for the biggest hacker attack outbreak to date. Atlas VPN projects that in 2020, there will be a 45% increase in cybercrime damages in comparison to 2019. This means that in 2020, the estimated monetary losses will reach over $5 billion.

Rachel Welsh, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her thoughts on the future of cybercrime: “Due to the pandemic, people are stuck at home, surfing the web, and working remotely. We can expect a record number of hacker attacks in 2020 since the pool for potential cybercrime victims has never been larger. Also, the latest cybercrime trends show that hackers are focusing on human layer errors more than ever.”

Cybercrime damages from 2014 to 2019

In 2014, hackers stole over $800 million from unsuspecting victims; by 2019, the number reached $3.5 billion. The monetary damages caused by cybercrime increased over four times in the last six years.

In 2019, digital crimes that caused most financial damages were business email compromise (BEC), romance fraud, and spoofing. Out of these, BEC accounts for over half of the losses in 2019, with a staggering $1.77 billion.

Excerpts From The Atlas 2020 Cybercrime Study

Cybercrime damages increased by 338% in the last 6 years
The law enforcement agency also reported that in 2014, hackers stole over $800 million from unsuspecting victims; by 2019, the number reached $3.5 billion. In other words, the monetary damages caused by cybercrime increased over four times in the last six years.

In 2019, digital crimes that caused most financial damages were business email compromise (BEC), romance fraud, and spoofing. Out of these, BEC accounts for over half of the losses in 2019, with a staggering $1.77 billion.

A BEC scam happens when hackers steal legitimate corporate email accounts and request the human resources department to wire money to a new bank account. Analyzing damages by complaint, on average, BEC losses amounted to $75,000 per report.

In 2019, the second most financially damaging scam type was romance fraud, which amounted to over $475 million in losses. In total, there were 19,473 such fraud cases reported, which comes out to $24,393 of losses per complaint.Preventative measures

Atlas VPN provides the steps to protect yourself against the three most financially damaging types of cyberattacks:

Starting from the attack that causes the most losses, BEC is usually highly targeted and well thought out. IT security department has to educate the staff to the fact that such attacks exist, and what are the clear-tell signs that one is being attempted.

Moreover, verification should be required to approve requests to change direct deposit details. One of the best practices is to implement a procedure where the request has to be physically signed by the employee.

Romance fraud is one of the hardest scams to avoid since the fraudster usually takes a significant amount of time to build trust with the victim. Afterward, the scammer will come up with a story in which they are in urgent need of financial help...

Romance fraud is one of the hardest scams to avoid since the fraudster usually takes a significant amount of time to build trust with the victim. Afterward, the scammer will come up with a story in which they are in urgent need of financial help, but they assure you that they will give it back shortly after.

The best way to avoid such scams is to set a personal rule to never send money to people you meet online. Mostly older people fall victim to these scams, which is why it is important to educate elders of the dangers lurking online.

Spoofing is similar to business email compromise scams. But it is broader as it not only focuses on scamming businesses but individuals as well.

Just like with other types of scams, having the knowledge that they exist is the first and the most essential step. Afterward, individuals should stay vigilant and double-check if the person or authorities are who they say they are.

As a rule of thumb, it is best not to share sensitive information via phone calls, text messages, or emails.

Access the full report here.