In the US there were seven billion dollars of estimated losses due to cybercrime, and almost 850,000 complaints filed in 2021. These are the figures published by the IC3, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center specialising in cyber and internet crime, in the “Internet Crime Report 2021”, which analyses cybercrime activity in the country.
These figures presented by the IC3 represent an absolute record compared to previous years as they are three times the number of complaints received in 2017, some 300,000, and five times their economic impact, which five years ago was 1.4 billion.
“In 2021, America experienced an unprecedented increase in cyberattacks and malicious cyber activity. These cyberattacks compromised businesses in an extensive array of business sectors as well as the American public,” explains Paul Abbate, Deputy Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the report.
Top Cyber Crime Types reported by IC3
Crimes identified as ransomware by the IC3 top the ranking, together with business e-mail compromise (BEC) schemes, and the criminal use of cryptocurrency.
In the case of ransomware, a type of malicious software, or malware, which encrypts data on a computer making it unusable, it directly attacks some of the sectors considered critical by governments, and the incapacitation or destruction of their infrastructure would present a national security problem. These critical sectors include healthcare, communications, energy companies and financial services.
Over the course of 2021, the US saw 649 reports from organisations in these sectors, 89 of which were from financial institutions, the second most targeted sector for cybercrime in the country. As the report explains, “of all critical infrastructure sectors reportedly victimized by ransomware in 2021, the Healthcare and Public Health, Financial Services, and Information Technology sectors were the most frequent victims. The IC3 anticipates an increase in critical infrastructure victimization in 2022”.
More prevention, less risk for banks
Another category of cybercrime highlighted in the report are those aimed at stealing private data by means of illegal impersonation techniques, such as fake websites, fraudulent emails, telephone messages, etc. These are phishing, vishing, smishing and pharming, which in the US created more than 300,000 victims. This type of crime mostly penalises the financial industry, which is making great efforts to protect its own data systems and, above all, its customers, the ultimate target of this type of cyberattacks on banks.
The financial sector finds itself at a crucial moment, investing heavily in banking cybersecurity with the aim of detecting and neutralising risks, and promoting financial education among its employees and customers. To meet this challenge, banks offer multiple technological tools, such as real-time banking alerts that inform clients of transactions as they occur, which can also help prevent fraudulent ones. “Our decision engines specialised in filtering transactional events have a dual role in the fight against cybercrime: they alert customers of any fraudulent operation, favouring rapid detection and stopping it from spreading any further, and they also allow for the management and sending of notifications of critical events, such as OTP, 2FA and double authentication, which contribute to making online banking much safer”, concludes María José Echevarría, Regional Sales Manager for Central America at Latinia.