Cybercrime, as defined by Cyber Crime Magazine, includes data damage, financial losses, intellectual property theft, personal and financial data breaches, embezzlement, fraud, business disruption, forensic investigations, data/system restoration, and reputational harm.

Estimates from Statista's cyber security Outlook project a dramatic increase in global cybercrime costs, surging from $8.44 trillion in 2022 to $23.84 trillion by 2027. Cyber attacks have witnessed a steep leap after COVID-19, evident from the expansion of online activities, along with increasingly sophisticated attacker techniques. This is, particularly, attributed to the vulnerabilities in remote work and virtualized IT environments.

India, in 2021, witnessed a significant surge in reported cybercrime incidents compared to the previous year, totaling over 52,000 cases. The states of Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest numbers during this period.

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Uttar Pradesh, in particular, led the nation in cybercrime cases, registering more than 6,000 incidents in 2018 alone. Following closely was Karnataka, known as India's technology hub. A substantial portion of these cases fell under the purview of the IT Act and involved motives such as fraud and sexual exploitation of victims.

The financial impact of cybercrimes in India was substantial, with an estimated collective loss of over 18 billion U.S. dollars in 2017. However, these figures were based solely on reported cases, and it is highly likely that the actual numbers could be significantly higher due to underreporting stemming from a lack of awareness about cybercrimes and insufficient mechanisms for classification.

Common Ways Cyber Attackers Target Businesses

1. Hacking: Malicious hackers exploited the pandemic, leading to an increase in fraud cases, bank loan scams, and data theft, resulting in the urgent need for more research to counter hackers' activities during crises.

2. Phishing: Phishing attacks soared during the pandemic, taking advantage of people's increased online presence. The urgent need for research centers on countering phishing attacks during crises.

3. Ransomware: Ransomware attacks surged as more people worked remotely during the pandemic. Cybercriminals added new techniques like DDoS attacks to pressure victims to pay ransom, highlighting the need for research on countering ransomware during crises.

4. Botnet Attack: Botnets, including threats like Emotet, posed significant risks during the pandemic, with cybercriminals targeting IoT devices. Research is needed to counter botnets during crises.

5. Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): APT groups capitalized on vulnerable systems and individuals during lockdowns. Research should focus on countering APT attacks during crises.

6. Malware: Cybercriminals increasingly used data-gathering malware during the pandemic. More research is needed to address malware attacks during crises.

7. Malicious Social Media Messaging: Misinformation and malicious messaging on social media grew, necessitating research to counter this emerging form of cyber attack during crises.

8. Business Email Compromise (BEC): BEC attacks increased during the pandemic, causing significant financial losses.

9. DDoS Attacks: DDoS attacks disrupt critical services, including healthcare, with potentially life-threatening consequences. Research is needed to mitigate DDoS attacks during crises.

10. DoS Attacks: Denial-of-service attacks disrupted services and operations during the pandemic.

11. Malicious Websites and Domains: Cybercriminals exploited the pandemic to create malicious websites and domains.

12. Spam Emails: The volume of spam emails increased significantly during the pandemic, necessitating research to address this form of cyber attack during crises.

13. Browsing Apps: Research should prioritize the development of digital browsing apps for marketing, advertising, and selling to advance businesses in a crisis.

14. Mobile Apps: Cyber attackers targeted mobile apps, emphasizing the need for research to enhance the security of mobile devices during crises.

Need of Cyber Security for Businesses

As cyber-attacks keep increasing worldwide, all companies need to grasp how vital it is to protect themselves from these digital threats. A simple and cost-effective method for businesses to shield against these dangers is to shrink the target area for attacks. This means getting rid of data that are unnecessary, outdated, or unimportant, often referred to as ROT data. To do this, companies should carefully go through all their data collections and sort things out.

Several crucial points concern the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats and the importance of cyber security for organizations, including:

1. Constantly Changing Cyber Threat Landscape: It's essential for organizations to recognize that cyber threats are continually evolving. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated and creative, making it necessary for companies to maintain an ongoing commitment to cyber security.

2. Leadership Involvement: Top-level executives should be fully engaged in understanding and addressing cyber risks. A lack of awareness or appreciation of these risks at the leadership level can leave an organization vulnerable. It's vital for executives to champion cybersecurity initiatives and allocate appropriate resources to protect the company.

3. Ransomware Impact: Ransomware attacks can be highly detrimental to businesses. They can result in financial losses, damage to an organization's reputation, exposure to sensitive data, and extended downtime. The statistics you mentioned, such as the 21-day downtime period on average, highlight the severity of the consequences.

4. Economic Consequences: In today's challenging economic environment, organizations cannot afford disruptions in their operations. Ransomware attacks can lead to significant financial losses, as demonstrated by the healthcare system's $150 million loss due to an attack.

5. Targeting Critical Industries: Hackers are increasingly targeting critical industries like factories and infrastructure. The recent attack on the U.K. Royal Mail underscores the importance of cyber security for essential services. Protecting these sectors is vital to ensuring public safety and economic stability.

6. Proactive Measures: Organizations can take proactive steps to protect themselves from ransomware. This includes developing a well-defined response plan for ransomware attacks, regularly training employees in cyber security best practices, and educating company leaders about the potential harm ransomware can inflict.

The Way Forward

According to the research published in the Journal of King Saud University - Computer and Information Sciences, an overwhelming 99% of organizations and their executives plan to prioritize cyber security in the coming two years.

Within this, 15% intend to focus on reducing hacking attacks, reflecting the high frequency of this type of attack. Additionally, 12% aim to target phishing attacks, while 10% prioritize Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks. Other areas include spam emails (9%) and malicious domains (8%), while APT attacks are the lowest priority at 2%. Artificial intelligence is expected to play a crucial role in future cybersecurity efforts.

Furthermore, the study reveals that email phishing was the most common form of phishing attack, identified by 27% of respondents. Mobile phone phishing was a concern for 14%, while domain spoofing and website phishing each accounted for 10%. Search engine phishing and whaling attacks were the least common, at 5%.

In conclusion, the study underscores the pressing need for organizations to enhance their cyber security measures, particularly in response to the prevalent threat of hacking attacks. It also highlights the importance of a managerial perspective in the context of pandemic management. These insights can help organizations better prepare for future crises and fortify their cyber security strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions.

  1. Cybersecurity: who needs it?

The protection of data and assets from cybercriminals must be a priority for individuals, businesses, and governments.

2. In what way does cyber security serve a purpose?

Secure storage, access control, and the prevention of unauthorized processing, transfer, or deletion are the goals of cyber security. It also protects the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of information.