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Malwarebytes: knowledge sharing is critical to fight ‘the new Mafia’

Cybercrime is now ‘an endemic global phenomenon’, with ransomware detections rising almost 2,000 per cent since 2015 and monthly sightings nearly doubling over the past year. A new report by Malwarebytes draws parallels between modern criminals and the organised crime gangs of the previous century, advising the same response: fight back.

The new generation of cybercriminals increasingly resemble ‘Mafia gangs of the 1930s’ in both their professional organisation and approach to intimidating their victims. The ‘new cyber Mafia’ is increasing the volume of all attacks; up by 23 per cent this year, with ransomware specifically increasing more than 60 per cent.

Despite acknowledging the reputational and financial risks of cybercrime, Malwarebytes found that many business leaders continue to underestimate their own vulnerability – but consumers are concerned. ‘While possibly overestimating the risks, more consumers find themselves scared, confused and intimidated’, the firm’s report says.

Malwarebytes goes on to urge both businesses and consumers to fight back by sharing awareness and knowledge of attacks. The report also advises a shift from shaming businesses who have been hacked to engaging with them, instead (regular readers will know that we at Computing have been long-term proponents of businesses working together after being hacked, sharing their experiences in the same way that criminals do). A more realistic view of cybercrime on the part of the consumer would encourage them to act, rather than be paralysed by fear, says the report.

CEO Marcin Kleczynski said, “Through greater vigilance and a comprehensive understanding of the cybercrime landscape, businesses can support the efforts of legislators and law enforcement, while also taking matters into their own hands.”

C-level executives must be educated about cybercrime, the report argues, so that the CEO is as likely as the IT department to recognise the signs of an attack. That argument gathers even more weight when one considers that the CEO is generally the ‘face’ of the company, in charge of consumer trust. One researcher said, “In business too many people think of cybercrime as a ‘technical’ thing. Something for the CIO, but not the CEO. It needs to become a mainstream management issue.”

The future

Looking ahead, cyber attacks are expected to become both more invasive and more personal; at its furthest stretch, IoT devices like artificial limbs or organs could be hacked and peoples’ own bodies held to ransom.

It’s a worrying vision, but thinking about these dangers and both educating and legislating against them is key to prevention. The report concludes that ‘Without accepting, sharing and learning from our experiences, these groups will continue operating in the shadows… Knowledge, awareness and intelligence are our best weapons against the new gangs of cybercrime.’

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