ONS Reports Huge Spike in Cybercrime and Fraud During Pandemic | 6 Potential Long-Term Impacts Of A Data Breach | Facebook Becomes Meta

8th November

Article by Christopher Lauder, Delegate Relationship Executive, Rela8 Group

ONS Reports Huge Spike in Cybercrime and Fraud During Pandemic

Figures have been published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Crime Survey for England and Wales (TCSEW) highlighting how crime shifted to the digital space during the Coronavirus Lockdown in the UK.

These figures show that fraud and computer misuse offenses rose by 43% in the year ending June 2021 when compared to the pre-COVID year ending June 2019. Computer misuse offenses are defined as hacking or using computer viruses to disrupt services, obtain information illegally or to extort individuals or organisations. These offenses rose by 85% in 2020/21 compared to 2018/19, with an estimated 1.8 million incidents occurring.

This was mostly driven by the 161% rise in unauthorized access to personal information (including hacking). This also includes victims’ details being compromised in large-scale data breaches and a victims’ email or social media accounts being compromised.

Also observed was a 32% rise in fraud cases. This appeared to be driven by the increase in ‘consumer and retail fraud’ and ‘advance fee fraud’. This shows that attackers adapted to the new behaviours such as the shift to online shopping and banking during the pandemic.

Dr Süleyman Özarslan, co-founder of Picus Security said:

“A 43% increase in fraud and computer misuse cases is an astonishing spike. Cybercrime is not a victimless crime, and if this spike was seen in another criminal activity, it would be headline news.”

“While most forms of crime in the UK have decreased since 2020, especially during lockdowns, the same cannot be said for online fraud. If anything, it has ramped up considerably.”

“The survey also notes a 161% increase in 'unauthorized access to personal information.' I believe this indicates cybercriminals’ additional focus on personal data as a money-making asset. Cyber-criminals will regularly sell stolen personal information on the dark web; for example, credit card details with an account balance up to £3500 may cost in the region of £175. Stealing personal data has been lucrative business during the pandemic.”

Jed Kafetz, head of pentesting at RedScan, commented:

“As for the 85% increase in computer misuse and hacking, I think the crime stats are still playing catch up to reality. The 1.8 million estimated computer misuse offenses are likely to be a fraction of the real number when you consider how many details are lost, stolen and sold during big data breaches in a typical year.”

Cybercrime is not a victimless crime, and if this spike was seen in another criminal activity, it would be headline news
Dr Süleyman Özarslan, co-founder of Picus Security

6 Potential Long-Term Impacts Of A Data Breach

Security Intelligence has published an article which lists six potential long-term impacts of a data breach. To begin, they discuss how serious these breaches can be to small and medium sized businesses. Following an attack, 60% of these SMBs will shut down within six months of the attack. While many larger companies won’t have to shut down, they too suffer serious consequences.

Of course, these are the consequences that organisations are already familiar with. What often isn’t discussed is the internal impact after the initial fallout of a data breach. This article discusses six of these potential impacts:

  1. A Data Breach can pit the CEO against the CISO
  2. Poisoned Search Results on your Corporate Brand
  3. Loss of Sales after a Data Breach
  4. Unexpected expenses
  5. Less attractive to new employees, especially in tech positions
  6. Legal penalties after a data breach

Full context on each point can be found in article linked below.

Facebook Becomes Meta

Let’s look at the backlash Facebook, or Meta, has been receiving over the past few days since announcing their change of name.

On October 28th, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Meta would be the new corporate name for Facebook and that this was done to better reflect the wide variety of products they offer and not lean too heavily on one product. Another reason for this name change is due to the companies aims to create a ‘metaverse’.

Some believe that a metaverse is the future of the internet. Currently many believe that the metaverse looks like a more “souped-up” version of virtual reality. In the future it’s thought that you would be able to access this metaverse using a headset rather than a computer, and you would be able to use this virtual world for anything. For example, work, concerts, hanging out with friends, or watching films. Meta itself believes that a true metaverse won’t be achieved for another 10 – 15 years.

This name change comes amidst a maelstrom of backlash for Facebook. In 2018, Facebook was voted as the least trustworthy company in the United Sates. Since the name change, one of Facebook’s earliest investors has labelled these plans as “dystopian” and that this metaverse would not be safe in Mark Zuckerberg’s hands.

"There's no way that a regulator or policymaker should be allowing Facebook to operate there [in the metaverse] or get into cryptocurrencies. Facebook should have lost the right to make its own choices. A regulator should be there giving pre-approval for everything they do. The amount of harm they've done is incalculable."

Similarly, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries has said that “rebranding doesn’t work. When harm is caused, we are coming after it”. The Minister has promised to bring forward criminal sanctions under new laws aiming at tackling harmful content on the Internet. It is alleged that Facebook has knowingly hosted hate speech, illegal activity, and election misinformation because it was ‘good for the company’.

As leaked internal documents from Facebook/Meta continue to come to light and whistle-blowers keep coming forwards, more will become apparent as to what the internal workings of Meta look like and whether our online identities and data will remain safe.

Rebranding doesn’t work. When harm is caused, we are coming after it
Nadine Dorries, UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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