In business, as in life, it can be very helpful to have at least some understanding of why people behave in a certain way. For example, in IT security, it can be very helpful to ask “Why do people commit cyber crimes?”. Understanding what leads people to commit cybercrimes can help to stop them.
Fundamentally, there are only two reasons why people commit any sort of crime. One is that they act on the spur of the moment and make an inappropriate decision. The other is they believe the potential reward is high enough to justify the potential risk. In the context of cybercrimes, it tends to be the latter.
This means that the practical answer to the question “Why do people commit cyber crimes?” is that businesses fail to implement robust enough security to deter attackers.
There are currently three main reasons why cybercriminals attack businesses. These are financial gain, espionage and sabotage.
Financial gain is one of the main reasons why cybercriminals attack businesses. They aim to obtain sensitive information, such as financial data or intellectual property, that they can use to generate profit. Cybercriminals may sell this information on the dark web or use it to commit fraud or extortion.
Some common methods used by cybercriminals to obtain financial gain include the following.
Ransomware attacks have emerged as a prevalent form of cybercrime in recent times. Such attacks involve the use of malware to encrypt a victim’s files, making them inaccessible. Cybercriminals responsible for such attacks demand a ransom payment in return for providing the decryption key that unlocks the files.
BEC attacks typically involve a cybercriminal gaining access to a business email account through social engineering tactics, such as phishing or spear-phishing. Once access has been gained, the attacker will monitor the account and use the information to craft convincing emails that appear to come from the legitimate owner of the account, such as a CEO or other high-ranking executive.
These emails will typically request urgent or confidential actions, such as wire transfers or the release of sensitive information. The emails may also include legitimate-looking invoices, purchase orders, or other documents that trick employees into making payments or providing sensitive information.
As the value of cryptocurrencies has risen, cryptocurrency mining has become a prevalent type of cyber attack where an attacker exploits a victim’s computing resources to mine cryptocurrency.
In this type of attack, the attacker typically installs malware on the victim’s device or network to use the device’s processing power to solve complex mathematical problems that generate new units of cryptocurrency.
Once the attacker generates cryptocurrency, it is transferred to their own digital wallet, while the victim may be oblivious of the attack until they notice that their device is running slower than usual or their electricity bill has risen sharply.
In an espionage attack, the cybercriminals aim to gain unauthorized access to a target’s sensitive information, such as trade secrets, intellectual property, or government secrets. They may also be interested in monitoring the target’s activities, stealing sensitive data, or disrupting their operations.
Espionage attacks are often carried out by advanced persistent threat (APT) groups, which are sophisticated cybercriminal organizations with a high degree of skill and resources. These groups use a variety of tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) to gain access to their targets’ networks and systems, including social engineering, spear-phishing, and other forms of targeted attacks.
It is, however, also worth noting that espionage can also be carried out by small-scale cybercriminals, even individuals. In these cases, the tactics may not be at all sophisticated. They may, however, still be very effective, particularly if the company’s security has holes in it. Disgruntled employees may turn to espionage, especially if they are due to leave the company anyway.
Sabotage is a type of cyber attack that has the malicious intent of disrupting an organization’s operations. The primary objective of this attack is to cause damage to the victim’s infrastructure, systems, or data, which can result in financial losses, harm to reputation, and interruption of critical services.
Sabotage attacks can be carried out by external attackers, insiders, or business competitors, and they may employ various techniques to achieve their goals. These include data destruction, system destruction, physical damage, and supply chain attacks.
Data destruction involves deleting or corrupting critical data, while system destruction attempts to disrupt an organization’s infrastructure or systems. Physical damage involves physically damaging an organization’s infrastructure or equipment, while supply chain attacks compromise an organization’s software or hardware supply chain.
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