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Cybercrime - Protect yourself

Posted on 16 October 2015

Cybercrime - Protect yourself

Whether you are an individual, small business or large corporate, the increase in cybercrime is a threat, with losses costing the global economy in excess of $400 billion on an annual basis.

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime takes many forms such as online identity theft, financial fraud, stalking, bullying, hacking, phishing, information piracy and forgery, intellectual property crime, state cyber-attacks and more.

What do cyber criminals want?

According to security firm Kaspersky, in the past 15 months up to $1 billion has been stolen from 100 different financial institutions around the world. But it is not only money that cyber criminals are after - the criminals also target personal and company data which may contain highly sensitive financial and corporate information. A company’s competitive edge in the market often derives from the quality of its confidential and proprietary information. Business sensitive data relating to accounts and finances, as well as relationships with employees, suppliers and customers, carries significant value which makes it appealing target for criminals.

In the last year, we have seen a surge in the number of individuals and/or businesses that have been victims of many of cybercrime. For example:

  1. Criminals have targeted individuals in the process of purchasing new properties by intercepting communications between the purchasers and their solicitors to divert the sale proceeds to accounts controlled by the criminals.
  2. Sony's computer systems were hacked which resulted in the disclosure of a raft of private company information being disclosed, including details of the public executives' salaries, employees social security information and confidential emails.
  3. More recently, the dating website, Ashely Madison, was hacked which resulted in the details of 33 million users having their names and details leaked online.

Protect yourself!

Criminals are innovative in their approach to stealing your information and/or assets, making it difficult to always ensure you are protected. Nonetheless, there are basic steps which can be taken to reduce your susceptibility to becoming another statistic

In addition to the usual measures, such as choosing strong passwords, keeping your software up to date and ignoring spam e-mails, it's important to be vigilant when receiving phone calls supposedly from companies you trust. We have seen a dramatic increase in companies losing millions because they have confirmed their bank details over the phone to someone who said they were calling from their bank. Remember that criminals will often give you some information about the account in order to seem genuine. We recommend that you never disclose any information over the phone unless you are the one making the call.  Never be afraid to insist that you will call the caller back. It's better to risk seeming to be rude than to risk losing your money.

What happens when you are a victim of cybercrime?

Both criminal and civil actions can be brought in response to being a victim of cybercrime. With either option, speed is crucial to ensure the attack is brought to a halt and no further information or assets are stolen. The sooner action is taken, the more likely it is that the information or assets will be retrieved, and the damage suffered by you or your business can be limited and repaired.

One difficulty when bringing a claim against a cyber-criminal is identifying the perpetrator of the unlawful act. However it is possible to apply to the Courts for a Norwich Pharmacal Order against third parties (such as banks, internet service providers and webmail providers) which may provide crucial information that can identify a wrongdoer.

There are also a number of other injunctive options available to victims to assist them in not only recovering their assets and/or information but to also uncover information which evidences the unlawful conduct of the cyber-criminals, including:

  1. A Search Order (often referred to in legal circles as the ‘nuclear weapon’) which allows access to the residential and/or business premises of the criminals to be able to recover documents and information regarding the criminal acts.
  2. A Freezing Order, which restrains a Defendant from dealing with his/her assets (e.g. bank accounts, properties, cars, etc.).
  3. An order for the immediate Delivery Up of confidential material that has been stolen and injunctions restraining the use of that information going forward;
  4. A Computer Imaging Order which enables you to obtain a copy of all of its computers, email accounts, mobiles and other electronic devices to preserve any evidence of wrongdoing that may be held on those systems.

With the increasing threat of cybercrime, it is essential that you have proper procedures and safeguards in place to protect confidential information and assets belonging to you or your business. Should you fall victim, remember that it is imperative that you act quickly.

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