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2024 to be the Worst Year So Far for Cybercrime in New England

2024 to be the Worst Year So Far for Cybercrime in New England

…And We’re Not Even Halfway Through It Yet

In 2022, cybercriminals reportedly stole $300 million from citizens and entities throughout New England. When I first read that number, which the FBI provided, I honestly thought it felt low. Then I reread the sentence. That’s just how much money the criminals made off with—not the cost of the damages they caused, or the estimated value of the collective information that was stolen, the loss of productivity, the cost of scrambling to get back to normal, and everything else that comes with a cyberattack.

Small and medium-sized businesses NEED to take cybersecurity seriously.

This article aims to shed light on the impending cybercrime wave. We'll delve into the statistics, the key threats, and the preventative measures that can be taken.

Cybercrime is a Profitable Business for the Criminals

The landscape of cybersecurity threats is evolving. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, leveraging AI and social engineering to launch targeted attacks.

Businesses, large and small, are at risk. The threats are diverse and damaging, ranging from phishing scams to data breaches. This affects businesses, employees, customers, and individuals; nobody is immune.

Why has it gotten so bad?

It’s profitable. Cybercriminals make a lot of money disrupting businesses and selling the information they steal. It’s so profitable, in fact, that most cybercriminals treat their “work” like a business. They pour money into it, make strategic decisions, and do whatever it takes to make the most profit. These aren’t basement-dwelling Hollywood-style hackers like in the movies; cybercriminals are entrepreneurs, and businesses and nonprofits are their oil fields.

It’s not slowing down, either. Over the last two years, cybercrime has increased by about 15 percent each year, and experts believe we are about to see a global surge during the next four years that would put unprepared businesses at definite risk.

The Escalating Threat Landscape in New England

New England is facing an escalating cyberthreat landscape. The region, known for its bustling business environment, is becoming a prime target for cybercriminals.

The threats are diverse, ranging from data theft to ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals exploit VPN vulnerabilities and leverage social engineering tactics to launch sophisticated scams.

The healthcare, financial, and nonprofit sectors are particularly vulnerable. These sectors hold sensitive data, making them attractive targets for cybercriminals.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in general, are also at risk. Limited cybersecurity resources make them easy targets for hackers.

The latest key threats include:

  • Phishing and social engineering attacks
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Data theft
  • Software vulnerabilities
  • AI-driven cyberattacks

Understanding Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity threats are not just about hackers breaking into systems. They encompass a wide range of activities aimed at compromising digital security.

Phishing, for instance, involves tricking individuals into revealing sensitive information. As a form of social engineering, it manipulates people to act against their interests.

Understanding these threats is the first step toward effective cybersecurity. It's about knowing what to look for and how to respond.

The Role of AI in Cybersecurity and Cybercrime

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is playing a dual role in the realm of cybersecurity. On one hand, it's a tool for defense. On the other hand, it's a weapon for cybercriminals.

AI can help businesses detect and respond to threats early. It can analyze patterns and predict potential attacks. More and more modern cybersecurity solutions utilize AI to some degree to help identify problems before a breach occurs. The key is that these solutions must be implemented correctly and actively monitored.

However, cybercriminals are also using AI to launch sophisticated attacks. They're automating attacks, evading detection, and even mimicking human behavior to trick victims. The battlefront of cybersecurity is evolving, and AI is the offense and defense.

The Financial Impact of Cybercrime in New England

The financial impact of cybercrime in New England is staggering. Businesses are expected to face significant losses due to cyberattacks.

Ransomware is one of the most financially damaging threats. It can cripple businesses, leading to substantial financial losses.

The cost of cybercrime extends beyond immediate financial loss. It includes the cost of recovery, reputational damage, and potential legal implications.

The average cost of a cyberattack across all industries is $225,000 per day of downtime, and the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was $4.45 million.

The effectiveness of having modern, managed, and properly audited cybersecurity measures in place makes a huge difference in these cases—in 2023, businesses that utilized modern cybersecurity solutions and had the right policies and restrictions in place, but still suffered from an attack, saw their costs of a data breach reduced by 70%. Combine that with the fact that companies with more powerful security solutions in place are much less likely to suffer from a data breach, and it only makes sense that businesses simply need to invest in protecting their data.

Phishing and Social Engineering Tactics

Phishing remains a top concern. Cybercriminals are using more sophisticated tactics, making these attacks harder to detect.

Social engineering is a key part of these attacks. Attackers manipulate victims into revealing sensitive information or performing actions that compromise security.

These tactics are expected to become even more advanced in 2024, posing a significant threat to businesses and individuals alike.

Ransomware: A Persistent and Evolving Danger

Ransomware remains a major threat. These attacks encrypt victims' data, demanding a ransom for its release. Ransomware happens fast. In the blink of an eye, your entire network can be immediately compromised, putting your entire business in a holding pattern with very few options.

Ransomware attacks are expected to become more sophisticated throughout 2024. They will likely target more businesses and cause significant financial damage.

The evolution of ransomware underscores the need for robust data protection measures and regular backups.

The Rise of Business Software and VPN Vulnerabilities

Modern software is becoming increasingly complex, and cybercriminals can use unpatched or improperly configured software to access your data. We specifically mentioned VPNs because they are a perfect example of a business tool that most users use daily, but businesses likely aren’t paying attention to how secure (or insecure) their VPNs are.

The same goes for network equipment, like routers, switches, firewalls, and other pieces of infrastructure. These are the devices that are critical to your business, but they run constantly in the background and most decision-makers never think about them until there is a problem.

Proactive Measures Against Cybercrime

Proactive measures are crucial in the face of these threats. Businesses must stay ahead of cybercriminals to protect their data and systems.

One key measure is conducting regular cyber risk assessments. These assessments identify vulnerabilities and help businesses prepare for potential threats.

Another important measure is implementing modern cybersecurity strategies. These strategies must be updated regularly to keep up with the latest hacking techniques.

The Importance of Employee Education

Cybersecurity isn’t just about throwing money at a problem. You can have the world’s most expensive cybersecurity infrastructure in place, but a single user can leave the front gate wide open. Establishing a culture of cybersecurity and committing to ongoing training and evaluation with your staff will go a long way in keeping your network secure.

Establishing simulated phishing attacks would be a good step in the right direction. This will test your users with the latest scams and phishing threats while providing educational resources and reporting when a user falls for a trap. 

Datalyst Can Keep Your Business Prepared and Protected

We work with businesses throughout New England to help them meet cybersecurity compliances and assist them with their technology. IT shouldn’t be a cost center—ultimately, it should be providing a wealth of value to your organization. However, it can only do so when implemented correctly, managed thoroughly, and protected. That’s where we come in. To get started with a free consultation or a network audit, give us a call at (774) 213-9701.

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Thursday, June 13 2024

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