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Cybercrime as widespread as accounting fraud: PwC report

Wednesday, 30 November 2011 | By Michelle Hammond
Almost a quarter of companies around the world were the victim of computer or internet-related crime in 2011, a new report reveals, with cybercrime almost as widespread as accounting fraud.

 

According to a global report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, based on a survey of 3,877 businesses in 78 countries, about 34% of companies have been victims of fraud over the past 12 months.

 

This figure is up from 30% of businesses in 2009, showing fraud continues to rise.

 

The report reveals cybercrime in particular has exploded, with 23% of companies saying they were a victim of computer or internet-related crime in 2011.

 

This is up from “very low and statistically insignificant” levels in earlier surveys, with reports of cybercrime almost as widespread as accounting fraud or corruption, both of which sit at 24%.

 

Another report by security software provider AVG says cybercrime has “come a long way” since it was mostly a form of vandalism, highlighting notable cybercrime developments in 2011.

 

Eavesdropping on Android


With Android taking almost 50% of the world’s smart phone market share, AVG says it is no wonder cyber criminals consider the platform an attractive target.

 

“Most Android malware focuses on making money from premium SMS,” AVG said in its report.

 

“However, in July AVG investigated a Trojan that records a victim’s phone conversation and SMS messages and sends them to the attacker’s servers for analysis to identify potential confidential data.”

 

“This clearly demonstrates the power of modern mobile operating systems but also the tremendous risks unprotected mobile users are open to.”

 

Outsourcing the hard part – collecting the money


Cyber criminals are moving beyond credit cards details and are increasingly using mobile phone operators to collect money for them, AVG said in its report.

 

“A criminal might… use a Facebook scam to get hold of people’s phone numbers and sign them up for an expensive monthly phone charge,” the report said.

 

“A victim’s mobile operator will process the charges and transfer the money to the criminal organisation, even if they reside on the other side of the world.”

 

“If and when a victim notices the charge and the mobile operator is alerted to stop processing payments, considerable amounts may already have been stolen.”

 

“If the amounts are small enough, many victims may not even notice for months.”

 

Stealing digital currency


According to AVG, digital currency has become very popular in a short time, posing a threat.

 

“Facebook Credits, Xbox Points, Zynga coins and Bitcoin now play a vital role in a multibillion dollar global gaming economy,” the report said.

 

“Far from being just of virtual value, many of these currencies are actively traded for real currency…. Cyber criminals [are] now aiming to steal digital wallets from people’s computers.”