How cyber criminals target their victims

Young and older people display different behaviours that make them targets for cyber criminals who are intent on stealing money from their bank accounts, says an expert.

While banks have increased security for online platforms, cyber criminals have turned to customers as easy marks for theft.

“Young people may be more digitally savvy and more circumspect of their service providers’ assurances, but they continue to expose a greater part of their lives to strangers on social media than do older people,” Gerhard Oosthuizen, chief information officer, Entersekt told Fin24.

“The consequences of a breach of their personal data may not seem that real to them, but a leak can have an impact on them for years,” he added.

As for older people, their trust in institutions made them vulnerable to cyber scammers, said Oosthuizen.

Common scams

“Older people meanwhile may trust their bank and its representatives inherently and thus (they) more easily fall prey to social engineering attacks. If someone from your bank calls and asks you to ‘verify yourself’, how much information would you be willing to give them?” he said.

Crooks will typically pose as banking, retailing or insurance representatives and dangle the prospect of extra cash payments or goods and services to lure victims.

Security firm Kaspersky Lab warned that scammers are already attempting to exploit sports fans by selling fake tickets to the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

“The business model used by fraudsters is fairly simple. On phishing websites users have been asked to provide personal information – including bank account details – to pay for the fake Olympic Games tickets. After extracting this information, criminals use it to steal money from victim bank accounts,” Kaspersky said.

Cyber criminals have also turned to ransomware in order to exploit smart devices in order to steal money from people.

Data from Trend Micro showed that 6 185 local PC were infected with banking malware in 2015. In the last three months of the year alone, 4 197 were infected with adware, and 6 564 with malware.

The company reported that the mobile malware count in SA reached 55 646 in March, up from 37 470 in April.

Attack increase

Oosthuizen said that attacks will likely increase as more people migrate financial services online and transact with smart devices.

“Account takeover will get bigger, exploiting weaknesses in the initial user registration process (typically for mobile banking), as well as the process used to reset passwords. Phishing continues to be a big attack vector here, and will be coupled with social engineering attacks.”

He also argued that spear phishing targeting corporate executives will increase in frequency.

“CEO–CFO fraud will continue to evolve in maturity, largely affecting small- to medium-sized businesses,” said Oosthuizen.


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How cyber criminals target their victims