Great financial deals and small transactions, online purchases and household appliances connected to the Internet. “Follow the money” will be the mantra that will guide hacker attacks in 2016, whose victims are going to be both large companies and small savers. This is evolution of the species, the Darwinian principle which applies also to crime. Assaulting armoured vans, robbing banks, or entering our homes to steal is almost unnecessary now: large amounts of money on the web move from one side of the planet to another. This is the space where the new thieves work, without balaclavas or crowbars, but with sophisticated software, malware, diallers and viruses. No more safes to force, but passwords and user names to find out with the help of computerized means. If Arsenio Lupin were a nowadays character, he would be a super cyber-criminal, as those who are preparing to attack us in the months to come. To do so, they enter our computers, smartphones and tablets or propose us huge scams passed off as deals. The phenomenon will mainly affect the West, that is, our world. A true insult to our certainties. Raul Chiesa is one of the greatest world security experts and a member of the ITU – the UN telecommunication Agency- “roster of Experts”.
“Nearly 90% of the digital crimes worldwide have origin in Eastern Europe and are conducted from there, especially from Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus: it is the so-called cybercrime from beyond the Iron Curtain, at the hand of a group of international criminal organizations which steal 20 billion euros from us every year – he told Ansa -. In 2015 there has been a shift of these organizations towards the emerging countries of Latin American, Asia Pacific, Gulf Region and Africa. In 2016 a return towards the West, in particular towards Europe and US, is expected. The key to the main threats represented by these criminal organizations is very simple: go where money is”.
Attacks will focus mainly on large financial transactions performed every day in the international price lists. “It is a very hot topic – Chiesa explains – but there is obviously little talk about it: there is a lot of silence in the stock markets, even more than in the field of banking. Today – the expert says – “some pieces of highly specialized malware already include features targeted at financial exchange. Although they are not produced to directly attack the companies which handle stock markets, their activity still affects the customers of trading systems, as it in the cases of Transaq and “Trade and Quik”.
But they target us as well. Payments made at a POS (think of ATMs) and totems, that is, the ATMs we normally use in parking lots and at the airport, are the new target of the hackers. “They are going to be attacked remotely, through the Internet, rather than physically ‘on the spot’ as it used to happen before” – the expert emphasizes -. “This industrial-criminal chain will be ‘automatic’, allowing thus to clone thousands of credit cards at every infected and compromised terminal.” ATMs will be more and more at risk (many of them use Windows and some versions are gradually failing updating security) and smartphones “with the aim of taking full control of the victim’s phone, from call logs to text messages, photos and videos.” Also the number of accidents related to “cryptolockers” may increase. These pieces of malware ask for a ransom if we want our data back (some of them will be created specifically for Apple users).
But hackers are not going to target only money. Even the internet of the things, that is, objects connected to Interne and cars may fall prey to attacks. “The difference – Chiesa points out – is that what is at risk here are not bank accounts, but people’s life. There must be a radical change in the approach of car manufacturers. Design has to be safe also from the point of view of the software used, and not only from that of crash-tests”. Finally, the expert predicts that in 2016 criminal organizations will use different fraudulent “campaigns” to swindle users and citizens, such as “impersonation of the Revenue and Postal Police”, couriers, NGOs, and fake Caller IDs”.
Experienced navigators will remember the famous ” police virus”, that is, the Trojan that locks computers during streaming and announces us – displaying pictures of the police and the President of the Republic – that an investigation against us is going to open at for terrible crimes (ranging from intellectual property theft to child pornography). It asked 700 euros from the user as a fine to pay off the offense and not to be arrested. A sophisticated trap in which many people have fallen and which made it necessary to publish on the sites of the police a safe method for removing the virus. “In all these cases – Raoul Chiesa said – the aim of the cyber criminals is to make the victims communicate their access data, such as passwords or sensitive information they need to commit fraud. Let us be vigilant, therefore, while using phones and e-mails to communicate. Fraud might be around the corner.”