White collar crime seriously disrupts industries across the UK and can go undetected for extended periods of time. Economic crimes are becoming more challenging in the digital age, with new forms of cyber-crime now taking longer to tackle.
Cyber-crime is more likely to affect large businesses than smaller enterprises and startups, but no company is immune. It’s estimated that almost a third of all business recall a security breach over the last year, with more than one in ten reporting cyber-crime in that time.
The advancement of the internet, automated technologies and artificial intelligence amplify the risks, in addition to the complex methods used by cyber criminals. Whether you’re setting up a business this year or reviewing your existing security policy, it’s always worth knowing the real risks.
How has the digital age transformed cyber-crime?
- The rise of online fraud and identity theft
The immense power of the internet and interconnected technologies enable a new wave of online criminal activity. Complex fraud schemes, including phishing and ransomware attacks, are perhaps the most common.
By simply sending an email or online message that appears genuine, criminals can trick victims into clicking malicious links that usually aim to harvest data but could also demand an immediate payment. Phishing is a multi-faceted type of attack, and studies indicate that 90% of security breaches in companies stem from phishing attacks.
Once a cyber-criminal gets hold of sensitive personal or company information, the potential ramifications multiply. Using familiar branding and playing on an individual’s pain points, hackers can then place online orders and register for services using someone else’s identity.
- Cryptocurrencies and money laundering
Online criminals know how to leverage untraceable cryptocurrency exchanges for money laundering purposes. They’re still largely unregulated, posing risks for businesses, investors and consumer markets.
Cryptocurrencies are immensely powerful, but many virtual currencies lacking any sort of authority to issue and distribute funds. If any platform that stores or exchanges crypto assets goes into bankruptcy, individuals or businesses could lose all their capital. Victims can only seek support from a professional white collar defence lawyer to get a chance of recovering lost funds.
Thanks to weak security policies, non-compliant cryptocurrency platforms provide an easy route to launder money. Offshore transactions, for example, are frequently used by cybercriminals to hide the origins of funds. In a technique called ‘smurfing’, larger amounts of money are divided into smaller amounts and distributed through separate transactions.
- The Dark Web and illicit marketplaces
The dark web provides a relatively easily accessible platform used by individuals and businesses to conduct illegal activities. Anonymous by origin, this marketplace is renowned for the sale of illegal drugs, explicit material, and even weapons. However, in recent years, mounting evidence suggests that financial data is being sold on the dark web too.
Due to the unsecured nature of each dark web platform, anyone who uses it risks losing their personal information. Some areas of the dark web even specialise in trading financial information, in addition to criminals offering fraudulent services and even tutorials explaining how to carry them out.
- Artificial Intelligence and insider trading
Algorithmic trading is legal, but the AI trading platform still needs thorough human control. It’s only when individuals manipulate the market that this activity becomes illegal, and it’s an easy line to cross – just not an easy one to detect.
Predictive algorithms powered by AI are now forecasting stock market movements, giving illegal investors the upper hand. Because automated investments are quite difficult to trace and identify, it’s not unusual for this activity to go undetected for a surprisingly long time.
Cybercrime presents many challenges for businesses, entrepreneurs, and individuals across the UK. Only with extensive training can sufficient awareness be raised, which is the most powerful tool in preventing attacks. Using a VPN is effective, but prevention should be the main goal.