As the world continues to undergo a rapid digital revolution, value in the digital space and related threats increase. Now in this data-driven economy, organisations are managing not only the huge quantum of data and sensitive data as well. Even Governments across the board are moving towards the digitalisation of their work. In an age where digital threats are increasingly prevalent, the need to safeguard your online assets and financial security has never been more pressing. Discover effective ways to ‘Prevent Cyber Extortion’ and fortify your defenses against this growing menace.
The rate of criminal activity in the cyberspace is increasing at the same rate as technological intervention in all the sectors of the market. From November 2021 to October 2022, approximately 16,000 cybercrime incidents were detected worldwide. As value is attached to the digital space, extortions are also occurring in the digital world, referred to as Cyber Extortion.
Cyber extortion refers to various techniques cyber criminals employ to force victims to meet their demands. The main goal in a prevent cyber extortion attempt is for the cybercriminal to infiltrate an organisation or individual system and discover potential weak spots. The two most common techniques used are Ransomware and DDoS.
Strategies employed by cyber extortionists to dig out sensitive data include website fraud, ad fraud, phishing emails etc. The perpetuation of the attack here also does not need to be executed by the intending party itself; the services of hackers may be taken to execute the attack.
Types of Cyber Extortion
As more personnel get trained and involved in the digital space, the no. of threat actors in the digital arena increases as well and with time, so does the quality and variety of attacks. Cyber extortion can be classified into the following types:
- Website Extortion:
- This extortion technique involves threatening to either remove the victim’s website or alter it to the victim’s damage unless the requested amount is paid.
- Mobile Extortion:
- This extortion technique involves threatening victims on the phone w.r.t harming them or people affiliated with them until a certain amount is paid.
- This encompasses disclosing an individual’s personal or sensitive records to the public in an attempt to cause distress or some form of harm. This information may include home addresses, bank records, health records etc.
- This extortion technique involves restricting access to an individual’s data by infiltrating his system and selecting files with malware via an unsolicited email attachment or other ways. Access to that infected data is only allowed post-payment of ransom.
- Denial of Distributive Service or DDoS:
- These attacks involve affecting common access to servers and their data. Cybercriminals threaten to do such attacks and only stop if a certain amount is paid to them.
- Cyber Blackmail:
- This involves breaching a private network and holding the information withheld from the actual owner or threatening public disclosure if the demanded amount is not paid for.
- Database Ransom Attacks:
- This involves exploiting vulnerabilities in a database, such as a lack of updates or a strong password. If the amount requested is not paid, then attackers threaten to corrupt the data stored in a database.
Preventing Cyber Extortion: an Organization’s perspective
Handling Cyber extortion can be a complex and complicated task for an organisation. They are required to strive to protect the data of their clients even in the face of potential threats of paying ransom in cases of attempts made to withhold data or hamper servers functioning. Following are some steps that can be taken to minimise the harm:
- Enforcing Stricter security measures:
In order to minimise the risk of falling victim to one of the Cybercriminals, the organisation must maintain the highest standard of security. It is key to preventing and mitigating the damage caused in case of an attempt of any cyber crime activity including prevent cyber extortion. Employment of strategies such as setting up two level factor authorization, keeping the operating and data management software updated.
- Formulating a Response Plan
In order to minimise the threat faced by an entity while facing a cyber extortion attempt, there needs to be a response plan to be implemented. A premeditated response plan can mitigate potential damage up to a large extent.
- Reporting the attempt to the respective legal authority
It is important to report cyber criminals if one is threatened. This will aid the regulatory authorities in neutralizing cyber threat actors and maintain order and freedom in the digital arena.
- Document the Attempt
Ensure that all correspondence with the cyber extortionist is documented and recorded wholly. This will aid the legal authority with the investigation if the attempt is reported to them.
- Having a sufficient backup system in place
In case during an attack or an attempt, the cybercrime perpetrator can corrupt your files, rendering them inaccessible. External offline backups can come in handy in such scenarios.
- Email Hygiene Training
When a person practises email hygiene, they regularly review their emails to make sure they weren’t sent by an authorised or unknown user. Email hygiene also covers the sending of messages containing firm secret information that is protected by the organization’s data classification rules in order to have a safe and secure business in the long term.
The level of sophistication and number of cybercrimes happening are increasing all over the world. The employees of an organisation must be well trained with the skills and technical know-how required to not only prevent these attacks but also mitigate the damage from such a potential threat. Approximately 16,000 cybercrime incidents were detected worldwide in a year, highlighting the digital realm as a fertile ground for criminal activities.
Empowered by education and vigilance, we can create a safer digital landscape so that our data-driven economies may flourish without any third-party hindrances. For the entrepreneurial spirit to survive such protection against such criminal activities must be ensured.
Want your employees to be fully equipped with the skills and resources required to minimise the potential of prevent cyber extortion? Then connect with Tsaaro. We have industry-experienced professionals who can guide your employees and make them ready to face challenges thrown upon them in the digital space. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by – Kislay Gupta, Tsaaro Academy