Cybersecurity, Here to Stay?
I get asked why we can’t stop cybercrime with all the new technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning that can detect in real-time new cyber threats. As I think about this, I always go back to the human factor and the fact that physical crime still hasn’t been wiped out. Physical crime has been around for a very long time, and we still need law enforcement to keep us safe from criminals who prey upon their victims.
The People Side of Crime
Unfortunately, it seems there will always be people who want to harm or steal from others. Throughout history, and still today, this is done through physical means. From pick pocketing and stealing wallets to bank robberies, as well as spies who steal physical documents, these crimes involve people.
Today, due to technology, many of the things that are stolen physically are now available digitally. People’s money and bank accounts are accessed using their mobile devices or PCs, important documents are in digital form, opening up more of the digital world to criminals.
Cybercrime revenues have been estimated to be in the trillions. The money is so big that now most crime syndicates have a cyber arm as part of their organization.
For some, cybercrime is an appealing way to earn a living. The roadblocks are quite small to get into cybercrime, which allows most people to easily start their own cybercrime business.
Internet access and a computer is all that is needed to start, and there are tutorials that teach you what to do from there, allowing anyone to become cybercriminals. Through Trend Micro Research, we have found these tutorials in underground markets all over the world in many languages.
People may turn to crime and cybercrime due to a lack of employment opportunities where they live. Cybercrime may seem like an appealing option, with opportunities to attack people or organizations outside of their area. Another possible appeal is that local law enforcement may not go after them since their victims aren’t local citizens.
Enterprising cybercriminals also recruit and support other cybercriminals by offering Crime-a-a-Service in underground forums, essentially selling a kit that has everything one would need to launch attacks. Not only does this further expand the “opportunity” to become a cybercriminal, it also increases the victim pool exponentially beyond that of physical crime.
The Technology Side of Crime
Let’s talk about the technology, which in my 24 years in cybersecurity has changed quite a bit.
When I first started, we mostly used hash and pattern matching to detect malicious files, and threats were just starting to be seen in email and web. Over the years we’ve had to develop new technologies to combat the ever-changing tools, tactics and techniques (TTPs) used by cybercriminals.
Each time we thought we had something that would stop these attacks, malicious actors would shift, whether figuring out how to get around the new detection technology, or they would target a different way of attacking the victim.
This cat and mouse game has been played over the years, whether we’re talking about physical crime or cybercrime. We’re already seeing actors build ways to defeat AI and machine learning technologies.
The one constant over the years is that there will always be people who will commit crimes against other people. We will continue to have to deal with both physical and cybercrime.
The good news is we (Trend Micro) have been at the forefront of combatting cybercrime for over 32 years now, and we plan to continue to invest in people and technologies to defeat our true competitor, the malicious actors who target our customers each and every hour of every day.