Cybercrime Incidents Has Increased by 125% in 2020. $13.3bn Lost in 5 Years

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The incidence of cybercrime has increased by a significant 125% over a period of 2 years (2018-2020), according to the 2020 Internet Crime Report by the Internet Crime Complaint Centre in the United States.

The report indicates that phishing, non-payment/ non-delivery, extortion, personal data breach, identity theft and spoofing are the six most common forms of crimes across the globe

In 2020 alone, 241,342 cases of phishing were recorded, non-payment and non-delivery scams totalled 108,869 while extortion amounted to 76,741 cases.

Source: IC3 report

It was also reported that people suffered 45,330 cases of hacks worldwide. Identity theft is when one person claims to be another in order to get benefits or money belonging to the rightful person and this was recorded 43,330 times in 2020. The 6th highest-occurring crime, Spoofing, happened 28,218 times, according to the report.

(Spoofing is the act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source.|)

Internet crime rates have doubled in the last 5 years

Between 2019 and 2020, the crime rate more than doubled in some areas. For example, people were victims of phishing attacks more than 100% than they were in 2019.

The report further shows that 114,702 phishing attacks happened in 2019. This is an increase of 110% more than double the volume of the previous year (241,342).

Source: IC3 report

Non-payment/non-delivery crimes increased by 76% in the past year. In 2019, 61,832 incidents were recorded. This increased 108,869 in 2020. Similarly, Extortion grew by 78% from 43,101 to 76,741 globally. As well, personal data breach crimes 18.6% times more in 2020 than in 2019. The numbers rose from 38,218 to 45,330.

Identity theft increased by a whooping 169% in 2020. It went from 16,053 to 43,330. The increased dependence on tech for communication and other services due to restrictions brought on by the covid-19 has only given hackers more ways to access personal details of other people.

Covid-19 grants, employee benefits, official meetings, correspondence and others are only few examples of what the hacked details are used to steal.

In 2020 alone, people lost $1,866,642,107 ($1.8bn) from people through BEC globally. This is an increase from the $1,776,549,688 lost in 2019. $109,938,030 was lost to hackers impersonating government officials. In total, the top 5 most prevalent internet crimes cost people a total of $804,146,017.

Beyond the numbers… Some examples

Reports went round in April 2020 that 267 million personal details of users that had been stolen from Facebook were being sold on the dark web all for $540. Weeks before this, the details of 530,000 Zoom accounts were reportedly being sold on the dark web.

Two of the largest hacks of 2020 are the SolarWinds hack and Google going down. Recall that on December 14, 2020, people could not access several of Google’s products including YouTube, Gmail, Google Docs and others. The outage lasted for a couple of hours before the Google suite was finally restored.

In another instance, when users of SolarWinds’ software were asked to update their respective apps, they did so without suspecting that the new update had been infiltrated with spyware. SolarWinds is an IT company that big corporations and organisations, including the US government, use for tech support.

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Weeks later, the spyware sprung to action, alerted its creators that it was now online and active. With the spyware, the hackers were able to access a huge number of sensitive documents for months, including those of the US Justice and Commerce departments.

Nigerians and South Africans have been victims

Besides the United States, other countries have been victims of hacking activities as well. Of the top 20 countries with the highest number of victims, as recorded by the IC3, Nigeria and South Africa are the only African countries. South Africa has the larger number of victims, with 1,754 people falling prey to hackers.

In Nigeria, 443 people have their accounts hacked in 2020. All of these victims have either been hacked through spoofing, phishing, identity thefts, dubious investments, advanced fees, business email compromise or other methods.

A BEC email sent by scammers in 2020

Stats from the IC3’s report shows that Business Email Compromise (BEC) continues to be the highest-grossing internet crime for hackers. Hackers change some little details in the email addresses of popular organisations like banks, then send fake messages to unsuspecting people.

Some of the emails ask people to click other links in order to stop high bank charges or do other things on their bank accounts. The emails try to trick people into sending money or providing personal information that can be used to gain access to other platforms.

Data source: IC3 report

According to Hacked, more than 737 million files were breached globally in total in 2020 alone.

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