If it were measured as a country cybercrime would be the world’s third-largest economy after the US and China. According to one analysis the cost of cybercrime costs will reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. It’s a staggeringly high figure and one that is set to be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined.

And personal loss contributes to this colossal figure. Online shopping and banking may have made life easier but it’s also made it much simpler to carry out fraud. Cybercriminals that steal your username and password can gain access to your personal finances, wreak havoc and play their part, at your expense, in contributing to huge losses attributed to cybercrime.

A bag of cyber scam tricks
  • One of the most common methods cyber criminals use to steal usernames and passwords is phishing attacks, where they'll send an email, or an SMS message, claiming to be from a bank or retailer.
  • The aim of the attack is to trick the victim into clicking on a phishing link, and one of the ways to drive victims towards this is by using fear or doubt. For example, the message could claim that a transaction or purchase has been made with a request to click the link to investigate further.
  • Often, the attackers will design a fake version of the bank's website. If someone is tricked into entering their username and password, it is then in the hands of the attackers.
  • Banks are not the only organisations that can be impersonated in this way. It can also be retailers, government agencies or any other outfit. The aim is to get access to your details by any means.

The coronavirus pandemic certainly brought many of these scams to the fore from fraudulent missed delivery texts to offers of fake vaccine appointments. Further, cyber criminals can take information from social media to target individuals with tailored, convincing-looking scams.
  • Beyond this there are hackers who aim to infect victims' devices with banking trojan malware, which monitors the user's computer or smartphone for activity to do with financial transactions and sends all the relevant information back to the attackers.
  • Attackers will often trick victims into downloading malware, once again with either phishing links or fake and infected versions of popular software, and even malicious apps hidden in popular mobile app stores.
Keeping it safe

To avoid falling victim to cyberattacks that are targeting financial information some simple steps need to be applied across online accounts to keep them as secure as possible.
  • Use a strong, separate password for each online account and turn on multi-factor authentication. Both of these steps will make it much more difficult for attackers to breach accounts.
  • Be careful about the links you click on and limit the personal information your post on public social media accounts. This information could be exploited to help identify accounts or carry out social-engineering attacks.
Banks and other services will often send alerts about suspicious activity on accounts. Take note of these alerts because they can help keep accounts secure. However, be wary as cyber criminals also create their own versions of these alerts to trick people into providing information.

Responding to fraud

If you have suspicions about alerts, get in touch with the bank directly by using the contact details on its official website.
  • If you do become a victim of a phishing email change your passwords immediately. Also change the passwords on any accounts that use the same password.
  • If you lose money as a result of cybercrime, report the loss to your bank and also to the police.
  • The police are unlikely to act but they may give you a crime report number which is useful when dealing with your bank and other organisations. Or failing that they will point you in the direction of a cyber crime reporting service.
Malicious apps

Also watch out for malicious apps. They can use clever tricks to bypass the security screening designed to keep them out of app stores. And they can remain in app stores for months before being detected and after, in some cases, being downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people.
  • Be wary when downloading apps. Checking online reviews can tell you if something is wrong. Often, people who've lost out to cyber criminals after downloading the app will mention that this has been the case, while reviews could also suggest that the application is fake if it doesn't work as advertised.
It goes without saying that proven, award-winning, protection is a vital tool to defend you against fraud. It keeps you safe against hidden malware designed to steal your personal information. And it ensures you won’t become one more victim whose losses contribute to the vast sums of money that are disappearing into the black hole of cybercrime.