This year was “unprecedented” in terms of cyberattacks perpetrated around the world – and there is no sign of any let-up in 2022.
The HSE ransomware attack made global headlines when the health service’s systems were shut down in mid-March – despite the ongoing COVID pandemic.
The attack was just one of many high-profile attacks around the world last year, with smaller attacks carried out on individual people on a daily basis.
On Late Breakfast this morning, Smarttech 247 CEO Ronan Murphy said cybercriminals are just making too much money for ransomware attacks to be stopped.
“Unfortunately, it is going to be more of the same in terms of how 2021 went,” he said.
“One key point here is these guys have made a lot of money, so they are reinvesting and they innovating in terms of their ability to ramp up their attacks.
“They will continue to leverage the pandemic. Cybercrime flourishes in times of uncertainty and fear and doubt and all of these things. When people are worried, that is when they are most likely to go down the rabbit hole of fake news or more likely to click on a link and that is where the problem starts.”
Mr Murphy said the threats are different depending on whether you are a business or a consumer.
“From a business perspective you will continue to see a lot of ransomware attacks - they are just making too much money to stop that - as well as some of the more common problems like business email compromise and invoice fraud redirection and phishing attacks,” he said.
“For the consumer, I think it will also be more of the same. You will continue to get your txt messages from DHL and FedEx and the various courier companies where they are trying to get you to click on a link
“Then there are the continued voicemails where they are asking you to dial a number and you ring a premium rate number if you contact them.
“Then obviously there is online banking. For cybercriminals, to get access to your bank account, from a consumer perspective, is the holy grail and unfortunately, there has been a significant rise in that.
“That is a multi-pronged approach in terms of how they target individuals. They made target them through social media – Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat or any of these platforms – and they may also try to compromise that information via text messaging or emails.”
The Smarttech 247 CEO said sextortion is “very disturbing” form of attack that he sees a lot of in his work.
He said the people behind it are often working out of Asia and targeting young men.
“They will meet somebody online; that person will try and convince them to put themselves in a sexually exploitative position and then they will record it,” he said.
“They will then blackmail them. They will target their Facebook contacts or their Instagram contacts and they will threaten to send that video to numerous people including their parents.
“We have seen scenarios where young men have threatened suicide. They have cleaned out their bank accounts; where they have gone to all sorts of lengths to try and pay these guys off to make them go away – but they keep coming back.”
He said many people do not realise how serious the threat is until it is too late.
“Some of the horror stories we have seen where people have had their life savings cleaned out for the most innocuous mistake where they have clicked on a link or replied to a phishing email is really staggering,”
“When you see it in the cold hard light of day, the impact of clicking is so destructive for an individual you couldn’t believe it and a lot of people only really come to terms with that when someone close to them or they themselves have been a victim of this type of crime.”