Cyber-crime in Colombia reaching worrying level, say police and internet experts

A recent report suggests that cases of cybercrime rose by more than forty percent in 2013 alone and yet nearly half of technology users do not have suitable protection on their devices.

Colonel Freddy Batista, head of the Colombia computer crimes unit of Dijin, said that the high trend in computer crimes against individuals and companies “was reaching a worrying level”.

A report released on Tuesday by the Colombian Department of informatics and telecommunications CCCT shows that the majority of users of mobile technology are not taking necessary precautions to protect their devices, and are thus risking falling victim to crimes via the internet.

The recent reports claim that 70% of Colombian internet users have fallen victim to an attempted or successful cybercrime.

According to the report, the reported cases of cybercrime in Colombia increased by 42 percent when comparing 2012 and 2013.

According to cybercrime experts there are three main scams used in Colombia

  • Phishing

    This involved sending of emails from apparently reliable sources (banks, phone companies, paypal) which aims to obtain private information which can then be used fraudulently. The emails often contain a link which will direct the user to a fake website, in which they are tricked into using their real login details and password, which will then be saved and used illegally.

  • Spear Phishing

    A similar idea and method to phishing, but instead of being sent to a large amount of people, this scam will specifically target people who work for a certain company or organisation. Using the same method as phishing the victim will be tricked into giving financial information, sharing files and intellectual property, commercial secrets and confidential data.

  • Skimming

    This technique uses advanced technology which allows the criminal to scan and save information from credit and debit cards remotely, using a scanning device placed on card machines and ATM machines. These devices scan not only the barcode account information, but also the password as it is typed into the machine.

Although the figures seem high, experts argue that they are low in comparison to countries such as the United States, where citizens are more reliant on the internet and use more online facilities such as online banking and shopping.

However, in figures released by online security giant Norton, Colombia still rates higher than the global average for people affected by cybercrime in 2013 with 45 % having fallen victim to online crimes, compared to a global average of 41%.

These crimes in 2013 affected roughly 6 million people and cost $46 million.

New technologies at risk as criminals evolve

Moving away from attacks on desktop computers and laptops, cybercriminals are now targeting mobile phones and tablet technology and using new techniques and technology learned and bought from abroad.

Colonel Bautista affirmed that “the world is smaller than it seems and that’s why the time that it takes for af a skill or technology used by criminals in Europe or Asia (particularly countries of South East Asia) to arrive in Colombia, is the same as a delay in a flight or how long it takes to upload a file on the cloud. The criminals in Colombia will find it, buy it and use it, ”

According to Norton, cybercrime levels for mobile phones and tablets are above the global average, with 42% of smart phone users having been robbed online, compared to a global average of 27%.

“Attacks and viruses for mobiles have grown 600 percent. Less than half of mobile phone or tablet users have a tool of protection installed on their computers”, explained experts from Symantec, provider of Norton online security tool.

Credit card cloning

Experts at Dijin state that cyber criminals are diversifying and a new rising problem is electronic cloning of credit cards which reportedly rose by 25% in 2013.

The authorities have identified that the most common mechanism for cloning of these cards are mobile card machines, devices which can copy the information in the barcode of credit and debit cards, regardless of whether it contains new chip and pin security.

Attacks on business and financial sector

Experts state that while the majority of businesses and especially banks and financial companies have well developed online security systems, they are also suffering from the high rate of cybercrime in Colombia.

Smaller companies are generally targeted by criminals are they are expected to have less developed security systems, however according to Alberto Saavedra, director for Symantec Latin America, the level of security for small and middle sized companies is rapidly improving, as people become more aware of the risks.

The financial sector is among the four most attacked industries in Latin America, and clients are generally attacked through a scam known as targeted phishing, in which emails are sent to them which appear to be from their bank requesting private account information, which is then used to steal money.

For this reason, according to experts, Colombian banking has redoubled efforts in security to prevent fraud within their networks and also in informing clients of the risks involved in sharing information online.


Related posts

Colombia’s drug policy a ‘failure’ that obstructed peace: study

Medellin government rejects ‘illegitimate’ interim mayor

Colombia legalizes assisted suicide in historic ruling