ESPIONAGE & CYBER ATTACK
Espionage is an often-unidentified threat that can devastate personal life and affect organisations, from small businesses to large multinational global corporations. These acts can take many forms and hostile attacks and operations can be conducted from anywhere in the world with a global reach.
Cybercrime is an evolving form of transnational crime. Its complex structure is compounded by being a crime that takes place in the border-less nature of cyberspace that lends itself to global criminality. This is further compounded by the increasing involvement of cross-border organised crime groups.
In a fast moving global economy and rapidly advancing technology, cybercrime takes many forms. Currently there is not a definitive definition of cybercrime in use today, however, attacks can come in the form of hacking, malware and botnets, with the 'Darknet' playing its part in enabling criminal cyber activity. Terminology that until recently would not have been recognised, is now commonly used, as it becomes more apparent and reported more in the media, that these acts of cybercrime have become more frequent and have had a greater impact and subsequently effecting the general public whom would not have ordinarily been effected, as criminals use new technologies to commit cyberattacks against governments, critical infrastructure, businesses and individuals.
The majority of the public using technology and the internet only interact with technology at face value and see a limited portion of the data that is available on the internet or 'Clearnet'. For example, most search engines generally show 4% of the internet, the 'deep web', which is defined as a part of the 'World Wide Web' is generally not discoverable by search engines. This includes password protected information, from email servers through to various social networks.
The 'Darknet' is a collection of a large number of websites that use anonymity tools like TOR ('The Onion Router' open-source software to enable anonymous communication) to encrypt their traffic and hide their IP addresses. The high level of anonymity in the digital space enables criminals to act without being easily detected. The 'Darknet' is most known for black-market weapon sales, drug sales and child abuse streaming. The 'Darknet' is also used for good intended communication and other users, including enabling free speech by human rights activists, communication between groups and the outside-world in oppressive regimes and journalists around the globe.
Nonetheless, cybercrime is progressing at an alarming pace, with new trends constantly emerging and rapidly spreading around the globe and is an evolving form of transnational crime. Cybercrime by its nature is not constricted by borders, either physical or virtual. This causes serious harm and poses a very real threat to victims worldwide.
The term ‘pure cybercrime' generally refers to criminal activity against information systems and computers, with the aim to gain unauthorised access to a device, system, or to deny access to a legitimate user. Cyber-dependent, or 'pure cybercrime' requires an ICT (Information, Communication Technology) infrastructure and is often described as the creation, dissemination and deployment of malware, ransomware, attacks on critical national infrastructure, for example, the cyber-takeover of a power-plant by an organised crime group, or the act of taking a website offline by overloading it with data, a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack.
Traditional forms of criminal acts have also evolved to exploit technological advances. Criminal organisations increasingly turn to the Internet to facilitate their criminal activities and maximise their profit in the shortest possible time. These ‘cyber-enabled’ crimes are not a new crime, but use technology available to enable criminal acts like theft, fraud, money laundering, illegal gambling, the sale of fake medicines and other crimes and bring crime in a new form with an online dimension. Cyber-enabled crime is that which can occur in the offline world but can also be facilitated by ICT.
These attacks of criminal cyber activity typically clusters around categories of 'pure cybercrime' including: offences against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems; computer-related offences; content-related offences; offences related to infringements of copyright and related rights. Broadly, cybercrime can be described as having cyber-dependent offences, cyber-enabled offences and, as a specific crime-type.
Cyberattacks in its nature 'knows no borders' and it is evolving at a fast pace, while the internet facilitates an increasing range of crime in an area where governments and law enforcement have little knowledge and are slow to react. As the perpetrators of these criminal acts operate from anywhere in the world, targeting victims in different sectors, industries, countries, regions, it is extremely difficult to mount a credible response, while its effects can have devastating consequences and can ripple through societies around the world.