Geoff White on Technology

Technology Producer Geoff White guides you through the latest developments in the world of tech, from cutting edge hardware to the shadowy world of hacking and cybersecurity.

July 21, 2016 1 Comment

The future of crime?

Welcome to the future of crime: high volume, low margin.

As figures released today show, around one in fifteen Brits falls victim to cyber crime.

Here are the headline stats:

  • 1.4m people hit with a computer virus
  • 1.9m cyber-related frauds (ie. the internet was used as part of the fraud)
  • 600,000 victims of personal data hacks

Computer crime is a numbers game. For a few hundred quid you can pick up millions of stolen email addresses on the dark web, send them a dodgy email and start the fraud process.

The current bogeyman is a thing called “ransomware”: the victim opens an infected email attachment or link, and the virus scrambles all their files. To unscramble their photos, documents and other files, the victim has to pay a ransom (using the virtual currency Bitcoin).

This form of hacking is so well-developed that dark websites offer free downloads of a ransomware viruses – in return for a cut of the money when the ransom is paid.

The ransom amount can be as little as £50 (because if the hacker sets the ransom too high, the victim will simply not think it worth paying). Small beer, right? Not when you do it at scale: one tech security company traced the proceeds of just one ransomware campaign and totted it up to $325m.

With little chance of arrest and such big profits to be made, don’t expect these fraud figures to decline any time soon.

Continue reading and comment

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