Top 5 Trending Cyber Crimes

Top 5 Trending Cyber crimes


Continuing the current Top 5 series, this week we look at the top 5 trending cyber crimes of 2015.

1: Cyber Espionage


One of the main persistent cyber crime threats in this age is state-sponsored cyber espionage.  While state-level espionage has been around for centuries, dating back thousands of years when scouts were used to track enemy, a new threat has emerged over the past decade and it is cyber espionage.   The recent intrusion of OPM by outside actors claimed by China to not be a part of any Chinese state-sponsored attack, stole millions of American’s personal data.  China is thought to be the primary culprit to this particular crime by those interested in the United States, however other countries such as Iran and especially Russia are on the rise.  Cyber espionage will continue and according to McAfee’s 2015 Threat Predictions, “the next world war will be fought on a keyboard.”


2: Cyber Theft

Identity theft with the purpose of stealing money is becoming one of the biggest fraud cyber crimes in the world.  According to “more than one billion records containing personally identifiable information were leaked in 2014 alone.”  It’s becoming a huge issue with the leaks of personal data just becoming viral throughout the world.  McAfee estimates nearly 400 billion dollars in annual worldwide losses to cyber fraud.  To keep this in perspective, that is more than the gross GDP of some countries.

3: Ransomware

Ransomware is a topic we discussed in a previous article, but it must be mentioned here when talking about the top 5 cyber crimes.  Ransomware fraud happens when a cyber-criminal is able to place malware that encrypts all or some of the files on your computer, Google drive or Dropbox etc..  These criminals are the ones with the decryption key and then contact you to demand a ransom amount to unlock the files.  According to Betanews and the McAfee Labs Threat report, “The first quarter of this year saw a 165 percent increase in new ransomware driven largely by the new, hard-to-detect CTB-Locker ransomware family, a new ransomware family called Teslacrypt, and the emergence of new versions of CryptoWall, TorrentLocker and BandarChor.” These number are alarmingly high along with the losses reported of $18 million in the US between April 2014 and June 2015 alone.

4: “Smart Spam”

According to Forensics College and the Guardian, a “variety of cybersecurity companies (e.g., BitDefender, Symantec, Proofpoint, AdaptiveMobile, etc.) and found that advanced persistent threats (APTs) or “sophisticated spam” will likely rise in 2015. These crimes normally leverage psychological manipulation to incite victims to reveal confidential information or perform actions. The victims of these attacks range from large firms who hold valuable intellectual property or industry blueprints to individuals who fall prey to spear-phishing, watering hole tactics, and “malvertising” on social media.”  This sophisticated spam is on the rise and now has infiltrated many different platforms and is typically used to gain access to accounts and passwords and many email filters do not catch many of these spoofed emails trying to get you to “confirm” your credentials that they then steal and store from you.


5: “Darknet/Deepweb” criminals

The ability for criminals to hide and conduct illegal activities without law enforcement being able to identify who is conducting the crimes that range from child porn to illicit drug and weapon transactions has exploded over the past few years and isn’t going to be shutdown anytime soon.  According to the Guardian, “We’ve seen cyber criminals leveraging Deep Web and other darknet services as well as untraceable peer-to-peer networks (e.g. Tor, I2P, Freenet) for selling and exchanging tools and services.”  Current online privacy laws throughout the US and the world prevent most, if not all, efforts to curtail this illegal activity and makes identifying the culprits all but impossible.


Here are some of our blog posts to read in the meantime:

Potential Amazon Password Leak
Top 5 Cybersecurity Threats in 2015
Top 5 Cybersecurity Myths that May Surprise You
Microsoft State of Security Address Experian (includes T-Mobile)
Trump Hotels
Tesla and Chrysler (unrelated to each other)
Apple App Store
U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)
Kaspersky & FireEye (unrelated to each other)
Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield
Ashley Madison
Ashley Madison (follow up)

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Intrusion of OPM
Syrian Electronic Army
McAfee’s 2015 Threat Predictions
Forensics College and the Guardian

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About Matthew Eliason

Matthew Eliason was born in Houston, Texas.  Upon graduating from high school, he joined the Navy.  His first tour was as an Information Systems Technician of a 130 client DOD network where he developed the documentation and maintenance procedures from 2007-2012.  In 2012, he transferred shore duty where he serves as a system and security administrator. He graduates with a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technology from American Military University in November of 2015. He holds the CompTIA Security+ certification and has extensive experience in DOD Information Assurance (IA) and Cyber Security compliance and procedures.  He enjoys golf, hiking, watching football in his spare time.