We should all be concerned: our personal information is being spied on or subjected to theft – not only by hackers but also by the many agencies of our own government. As concerning are the activities of foreign states. Some governments now regularly target private citizens, their businesses and their personal and professional relationships. Russia and China are widely suspected of running sophisticated cyber-espionage programmes.
But it is not just governments.
In the deep, dark corners of the Web (the Dark Net) there exists a market for an individual’s private information. Money changes hands in return for people’s medical and financial details, their movements, their relationships, even their opinions. This information is easy to collect with the help of mobile phone surveillance devices, such as StingRay. Equipment like this can be as small as a paperback book and is routinely carried by anyone who wants to extract data from your smartphone. Corporate and government spies, private investigators, journalists, cyber-criminals and hackers can now all easily access your data.
The growth in the use of StingRay and similar devices has largely been kept secret from the public. However, these devices pose a clear threat to anybody with an unprotected telephone. Walk down a street with a smartphone and you are now vulnerable to electronic mugging. A mugging that may steal a wide range of extremely sensitive information – including the very conversation that you are having whilst you are being hacked.
Think about the problem of fraud and, increasingly, blackmail. According to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report (2017), the annual revenue of the cyber- crime industry is estimated to be more than $450bn. This is compelling evidence that we are suffering a cyber- crime wave of pandemic proportions. If this was a disease, you would not walk out of your door in the morning …
“This is an epidemic of cybercrime, and yet 53 percent of businesses in the U.S., U.K. and Germany were just ill-prepared.” Steve Langan, chief executive at Hiscox Insurance.