The internet, or more colloquially known as ‘the web’ has been around since the early 1990s. Just short of 3 decades. Back in the (good-old) days of dial up modems and questionable desktop designs however – we were yet to understand the dangers that the internet bubble could actually pose to our future selves.
Flash forward 30 or so years and the web is now a hugely prominent part of our everyday lives. Computers have advanced from a rarity and a luxury, to a common device that we’d struggle to be without. More than 3 billion people use the internet worldwide. The number of web users has increased from 783 million in 2000 to 3.2 billion in 2015, according to the International Telecommunication Union. That’s a seven fold increase that brought global internet users from 7% to an enormous 43% of the entire world’s population.
This growth has been contributed to by the fact that the web is no longer only accessible through a desktop. You can now also access the internet through the majority of mobile phones, TVs, consoles, tablets and even through portable home gadgets (such as Alexa or Google Home). Whilst being undeniably convenient, the expansion of the web across various platforms has also left us open to a greater number of cyber attacks and crimes.
The growth of the web has also brought with it the growth of those who plan to use it with malicious intent. Cyber crime was the second most globally reported crime in 2017 and now accounts for over 50% of total crimes in the UK.
There are multiple types of cyber crime, and a good chance you didn’t know some of them even existed (or that they were crimes). Some of the most common and regularly occurring cyber crimes on the web include:
Which involves shutting down or taking control of a computer system. Hacking often occurs when businesses or individuals do not have sufficient protection on their computer systems. Hacking is one of the most common forms of cyber crime, with up to 1000 brits being subjected to this cyber crime every hour.
This common crime is often a direct result of hacking. However, you can also fall victim to it through other means too. Identity fraud is where your details are appropriated and then either sold, or used personally by the perpetrator. It can occur through hacking, or through poor online/offline security and general lack of safety know-how. The CIFAS reported that 2017 saw a record level of identity fraud in the UK and this number is on the rise.
Ransom threats are on the rise and can occur in a number of situations. They are most commonplace in big businesses where the organisation suffers a security breach and has to pay the hacker for their release. The NHS cyber attack was widely reported in the news this year and is a prime example of how a company or any organisation for that matter can suffer at the hands of a poor security regime.
Phishing is a common form of cyber crime and we’ve probably all been subjected to it more than once in our lifetimes. It’s is where a fake email is used to try and obtain sensitive information from a potential victim. Luckily, due to advanced security softwares and general education on phishing, many of us know to ignore these ‘fishy’ emails. The practice still claims thousands of victims each year however. With many emails looking so realistic it’s easy to understand why.
The good news is that where there is danger, there is protection too! Due to the increase of cyber crime, there are those out there actively working to counteract it. There are also a few things that you can do to keep yourself protected at home too.