Hungarian businesses and individuals are not spared by the global rise in cybercrime. In a worrying development, artificial intelligence has now appeared in the arsenal of cyber criminals. Experts warn that vigilance and a highly professional IT system are indispensable if companies are to have a standing chance in this battle.
The rise in cyber crime is also mirrored by police statistics, which only a record a fraction of such cases. According to data released by Hungarian police, the frequency of crimes labelled as “breaches of information system or data” has quadrupled in the past few years. In 2018, only 200 such cases were registered by the Home Affairs Statistics System operated by the Ministry of the Interior. By 2020, this number more than quadrupled to 830, and the increase continued in 2021: by the fall of last year, 831 such incidents had been registered by the police. When it comes to similar crimes, the rise in numbers is also spectacular. In 2018, slightly more than 1,100 “frauds using an information system” occurred, but by 2020, 3,400 similar types of crime had come to the attention of the police.
In tandem with the world
Hungarian cybercrime statistics move in tandem with the international trend: in addition to the spectacular spread of virus and ransomware attacks, phishing incidents targeting users' work and personal data through corporate systems are also gaining ground.
Weighted meta-analysis of key cybercrime indices by fraud-fighting company SEON found that countries at the highest risk from cyberthreats are lacking in legislation to both protect from and punish cybercrime. A country recently plagued by upheaval is Myanmar, which came last. The performance of Cambodia, Honduras, Bolivia, and Mongolia was also poor. On the Old Continent, the worst performer is Bosnia and Herzegovina, partially owing to an extremely low National Cybersecurity Index score. The aquthors of the report stressed that even those at the very top are never completely safe from cybercrime, which remains a very real and ever-advancing threat throughout the world, for companies and individuals. Consider the US: despite taking the bronze in SEON’s Cyber-Safety Index, it still reported over 241,000 cases of phishing and pharming in 2020, as well as 108,869 counts of non-delivery/non-payment fraud, among other cybercrimes. Meanwhile, known data breaches in the same year exposed 155.8 million records in the US alone.
According to the latest MS Digital Defense Report, the most common target in the corporate-institutional segment is retail (13%), followed by the financial services sector (12%), manufacturing (12%), government administration (11%) and healthcare (9%).
Similar trends have been reported by the Cyber Threat Resilience Team (CTRL) operated by T-Systems, a subsidiary of Magyar Telekom. The CTRL processes and investigates hundreds of suspected IT incidents daily, and identify tens of actual incidents every day that are reported to those involved, and analyzed in detail. In the experience of the CTRL center, the relative difficulty and isolation of the Hungarian language is no longer an obstacle: criminals hire linguistically adept individuals to perform the necessary background tasks. And there is no upper limit to the damage such incidents can cause: a serious incident may render even a large company unable to continue to operate.
Blackmail, overload and AI
Over the past year, computer blackmail viruses and overload attacks have caused the most problems. The tools for committing “email crime” and data theft have also expanded: in addition to classic phishing, the MS Digital Defense Report identified 25 additional malicious email techniques and mentioned more than 15,000 phishing sites that had been detected and neutralized in the previous three months.
A brand new phenomenon is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning by criminals to crack passwords and disguise malicious intent, or the use of deepfake or deep voice technologies based on image and sound falsification. Protection against such attacks is usually only effective when supported by artificial intelligence, for example by using algorithms that analyze network traffic or video and audio recordings.
Another current phenomenon is that states are increasingly behind cybercriminals - attacking public institutions or critical infrastructures - with tools and capabilities that an in-house IT department has a hard time fighting.
Available cyber-attack data suggests extremely strong - and growing - exposure, but no one knows exactly how many incidents actually occur, as many companies and institutions tend to hide such instance to protect their own reputations. It is safe to say that the actual number of cases is certainly higher than in the data sets published by either the police or the companies that produce IT security trend reports. The reason for the spectacular expansion in cyber attacks is profit, but the amount of damage caused by such incidents can easily exceed the amount of profit many times over. Cyber security experts at T-Systems’ CTRL Center warn that having professional IT security systems whose capabilities and level of development are comparable to that of the malware in question is to only way to prevent or mitigate the damage.
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