Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

5/8/2019
02:00 PM
Marc Wilczek
Marc Wilczek
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
Google+
RSS
E-Mail vvv
50%
50%

FBI: Cybercrime Losses Doubled in 2018

The world has embraced digital technology, but cybercrime is putting a serious dent in corporate finances, the FBI finds.

Last year, according to the FBI's "2018 Internet Crime Report," reported damages from cybercrime nearly doubled to $2.7 billion, and roughly half of that amount stemmed from business email schemes that zeroed in on wire transfer payments.

The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report said agency received approximately 352,000 complaints about online skullduggery in 2018 — over 900 per day, on average. In recent years, the center has averaged somewhat fewer (about 300,000 complaints); however, between 2014 and 2018, the reported losses more than tripled, leaping from $800.5 million in 2014 to $1.42 billion in 2017 before reaching $2.7 billion last year.

Practically all businesses, irrespective of size and industry, are vulnerable to being victimized by cybercriminals. This makes cyberattacks the single biggest risk for today's corporate leaders, as highlighted by the World Economic Forum.

"The 2018 report shows how prevalent these crimes are," says Donna Gregory, chief of the FBI's IC3 unit. "It also shows that the financial toll is substantial, and a victim can be anyone who uses a connected device."

Business Email Scams Are Especially Lucrative
The FBI report pegs $1.2 billion of the 2018 losses on business email scams that hijack or mimic actual email accounts using social engineering or hacking to transact unauthorized fund transfers. Over time, the wildly successful scam has evolved to include spoofed personal, vendor, attorney, and real estate-related emails.

Hunting down and recovering unauthorized payments is one area where the FBI has made headway. In February, as noted in the report, the FBI established a Recovery Asset Team to focus on repatriating monies lost via business email scams. Last year, the FBI recouped $257 million unwittingly wired by cybercrime victims. That's a respectable recovery rate of 75%.

The next-biggest moneymaker is "confidence fraud/romance," where a criminal convinces his quarry that he can be trusted — and then steals from them. Another popular scam is when grandparents are tricked into thinking that a grandchild needs immediate financial help. The IC3 report says that 18,493 confidence scam victims racked up $362.5 million in reported losses in 2018.

Cyber Extortion Keeps Emerging
Last year, extortion generated 51,146 complaints and $83 million in losses, a 242% increase in complaints compared with 2017. Reported incidents included "sextortion" — where a criminal says he'll send a pornographic video of the target to the target's family and friends unless he receives a ransom — or distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, in which networks and systems are swamped with malicious IP traffic unless a "fee" is paid.

The FBI scored a big win when it identified and arrested two ringleaders of Apophis Squad, a cybercriminals-for-hire group that made bomb threats against scores of schools and launched multiple DDoS attacks against websites.

Apophis Squad took inspiration from the activities of another group, Lizard Squad, online hoodlums who also operated a DDoS-for-hire service, issued bomb threats to airlines, and repeatedly directing DDoS attacks at tons of websites. Almost all of its crew were arrested and charged with various online crimes. Until recently, the Apophis Squad's online presence and DDoS-for-hire service resided on the same server used by a number of other domains linked to Lizard Squad.

Dark Figure Remains High
Cybercrime is a giant multinational business, and it continues to proliferate around the globe. That said, a yet-to-be-determined but undoubtedly massive number of cases still remain unreported or undetected. Many cybercrimes — such as malware, phishing, and ransomware — that have made the news in the past year were responsible for a fairly inconsequential portion of the reported losses. According to the IC3 report, ransomware scams that hit a number of large organizations in 2018 resulted in a relatively paltry $3.6 million in losses.

The IC3 also notes that the total number of reported complaints "only represents what victims report to the FBI via the IC3 and does not account for victim direct reporting to FBI field offices/agents."

Additionally, the reported losses do not account for lost business, time, wages, or the cost of paying vendors to fix damaged computer networks. Both of these result in considerable margins of error in certain forms of cybercrime, which means that some of the figures are artificially low. The upshot is clear: As businesses everywhere continue to turn to digital technology and transact business online, more and more crime is shifting into the digital realm — and the number of attacks and the size of financial losses is only going to grow.

Related Content:

 

 

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two cybersecurity summits at Interop 2019. Learn from the industry's most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the Interop agenda here.

Marc Wilczek is a columnist and recognized thought leader, geared toward helping organizations drive their digital agenda and achieve higher levels of innovation and productivity through technology. Over the past 20 years, he has held various senior leadership roles across ... View Full Bio
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
10 Ways to Keep a Rogue RasPi From Wrecking Your Network
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  7/10/2019
The Security of Cloud Applications
Hillel Solow, CTO and Co-founder, Protego,  7/11/2019
Where Businesses Waste Endpoint Security Budgets
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  7/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
NASA CFITSIO prior to 3.43 is affected by: Buffer Overflow. The impact is: arbitrary code execution. The component is: over 40 source code files were changed. The attack vector is: remote unauthenticated attacker. The fixed version is: 3.43.
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
BigTree-CMS commit b2eff67e45b90ca26a62e971e8f0d5d0d70f23e6 and earlier is affected by: Improper Neutralization of Script-Related HTML Tags in a Web Page. The impact is: Any Javascript code can be executed. The component is: users management page. The attack vector is: Insert payload into users' pro...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
PluckCMS 4.7.4 and earlier is affected by: CWE-434 Unrestricted Upload of File with Dangerous Type. The impact is: get webshell. The component is: data/inc/images.php line36. The attack vector is: modify the MIME TYPE on HTTP request to upload a php file. The fixed version is: after commit 09f0ab871...
CVE-2019-13612
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
MDaemon Email Server 19 skips SpamAssassin checks by default for e-mail messages larger than 2 MB (and limits checks to 10 MB even with special configuration), which is arguably inconsistent with currently popular message sizes. This might interfere with risk management for malicious e-mail, if a cu...
CVE-2019-10100
PUBLISHED: 2019-07-16
Zammad GmbH Zammad 2.3.0 and earlier is affected by: Cross Site Scripting (XSS) - CWE-80. The impact is: Execute java script code on users browser. The component is: web app. The attack vector is: the victim must open a ticket. The fixed version is: 2.3.1, 2.2.2 and 2.1.3.