Although they do not usually occupy the forefront of the daily information spree, the amount of news about digital scams is growing: users who had their electronic wallet robbed or were given a “twin” card to make online purchases from large entities, such as the CNV, from which thousands of customer data were stolen. These crimes grow to such an extent that a recent survey revealed that 11% of the Argentines consulted suffered firsthand when their bank account or credit card was stolencloned and abused by cybercriminals.
The field work published in May was prepared by the consultants WIN and Voices! and showed that this problem is getting worse, since, in similar investigations carried out before the pandemic, the people who acknowledged having been a victim of these formats reached 8%. Put into figures, experts mention that, globally, in 2021, the amount “billed” for thefts, fraud and credit card scams was US$ 33 billion. But by 2022 it already amounted to US$ 36 billion.
This same situation is reflected in other ways. For example, in another study published by those responsible for Google Argentina Earlier this year: according to the portal’s statistics, the search “online security” grew 20% during 2022, the same as the words “password security”. Others, even more specific, such as “password manager”, they tripled inquiries. “All this reflects the interest of Argentines to know, understand and access available tools to protect themselves and acquire better digital security habits,” they concluded from the company.
“We believe that 2023 is the year in which cybercrime is consolidating as a true professional industry,” he assured PROFILE Gabriel Zurdo, CEO of the firm BTR Consulting, specialized in cybersecurity. The reasons for growth There are several in this criminal field: “Since the pandemic, many people joined – for various reasons – to carry out digital procedures and transactions. From the apps that had to be shown with permits to leave the neighborhood to the increase in online purchases. And also receive money and pay for some work using one, or several, of the many digital wallets available. This phenomenon implied adding a large mass of people to the world of online transactions, often without digital experience, and who become potential targets that are highly exposed to this type of crime,” Zurdo commented.
According to this expert, today an “average” person has, on his mobile device, of three or more apps that serve as payment platforms. To this is added another statistic that suggests that –in the AMBA area– they steal around nine thousand devices every day, and that many of them have zero, or minimal, security measures implemented. “This is how we began to understand the magnitude of the problem of economic cybercrime, both personally and corporately,” says Zurdo. And his prognosis is sad: “This crime trend will continue to worsen.”.
Among the reasons that explain the aggravation there are some. On the one hand, many developers and companies that launch apps to make transactions and that store “sensitive” information are not up to date with secure software best practices. According to the BTR expert, around one in forty apps available in stores does not exceed the minimum security standard.
But, on the other hand, even those that do comply are usually violated because the user himself does not “set” in a proper way. In other words, “there are still too many people who they don’t even put a PIN on their smartphone. And the data recorded by consulting security companies show that 61% of people use the same –and unique– password to enter the different apps. “If that password is stolen, all your accounts will be compromised.”
In addition, this type of cybercrime is becoming more easy of “execute”. Partly because the tools necessary to try it have become more popular and easier to use, even adding artificial intelligence techniques and true malware rental services that can be hired and used even by “apprentice” hackers.
Lefty also warns that now all smartphone users are attractive targets And not just the “rich”. “There are sophisticated criminal gangs that aim to break banks but there are others that target clients, others that specialize in industrial sub-headings. The truth is that today everyone from the CEO to the cadet of an organization can be an interesting target for the cyber-scam”.
On the other hand, according to the experts, also the large technology companies that provide popular services They have a lot of homework to do. From improving the insecure use of some free marketplaces, to scammers who easily set up a fake online store and sell, via instagram. And new actions by popular search engines that display, prominently in the results, ads for fake sites, can also add security, facilitating the flow of unsuspecting people who click and start falling victim to a real scam.
Do you have an email (from your bank)
Earlier this year ESET Latin America, a company specializing in digital security, conducted a survey in countries in the region, including Argentina, asking users with what frequency receive scam attempts and where the scammers contacted them from. 81% of the participants stated that in the last 12 months they had received at least one scam attempt, but managed to detect it in time, while 6% of people admitted having fallen into this trap. Several of these attempts are made from supposedly official mailboxes of both public and private banks.
“Regarding the consequences for the victims, 11% lost personal information, 7% money, and 4% access to their accounts,” he explained to PROFILE Camilo Gutiérrez Amaya, head of the Research laboratory from ESET. And he confirmed that the number of scams has been increasing for years, but the pandemic accelerated these situations. But, in addition, “now they are more targeted and sophisticated scams. And they take advantage of the fact that a large number of users simply feel safe and that they are not going to be the target of this type of attack, and that we can all be a target of hacking”. The first way to prevent is at this point: be aware Keep in mind that everyone, including the reader of this note, may also be the target of digital fraud.