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by: Kyal Smith

Great for Criminals, Bad for You: Social Media and KRE (Kidnap, Ransom & Extortion)

We should all be aware by now how fast the Internet and social media is growing. To put this into perspective, there are currently over 3 billion active Internet users, 100 billion emails are delivered per day, and 10,000 tweets are sent every second. It should come as no surprise then that the Internet, due to its sheers size and potential for user anonymity, has become a breeding ground for criminal activity. In particular, social media has become quite the information resource, attracting opportunistic criminals from all walks of life.

Common attacks such as identity theft and credit card fraud remain prevalent, requiring little effort while offering a worthwhile income for perpetrators who indiscriminately target a large number of potential victims, but as a result of the increased level of personal information made available on social media, we are seeing a rise in more sophisticated and targeted attacks against high-value individuals, such as business owners and directors.

With basic social engineering and intermediate computer skills, criminals can collect a dangerous amount of information on an individual’s personal life, family and business practices. This exposes targeted individuals to a number of security risks, including:

Kidnapping for Ransom
An individual(s) is seized against their will and held hostage in order to coerce certain concessions. Kidnapping for ransom usually involves demands for the payment of a financial settlement (cash, goods and /or property) in order to release the hostage(s).

Tiger Kidnapping
A kidnapping is orchestrated in order to conduct another criminal act, typically a robbery. Perpetrators generally abduct an employee of a business and then force them to facilitate a robbery. Dependents of the victim are often held hostage until the robbery is complete.

Virtual Kidnapping
A ransom demand is made under the pretext of an individual having been kidnapped, however, no abduction is actually committed.

Extortion
The obtaining of property, including goods, money and/or favours or privileges by way of duress, be it actual/threatened force, or under pretence of official right. Perpetrators often threaten the release of confidential or potentially damaging personal information.

Cyber Extortion
The threat or act of denying access to, or the stealing or destroying of, data held on an electronic device unless a ransom is paid. Undesirable/illegal information may also be transferred onto the victim’s computer.

To lower your risk it is recommended that you take steps to improve your online security and exercise caution when it comes to using social media – by understanding how social engineering works and by being aware of what information you have made available online. For more information on what measures you should take, you can call one of Honan’s cyber and network security experts on 1800 981 377 or email info@honan.com.au

Sources:
www.red24.com (‘Overshare: Social media and KRE’ 09/09/2015)
http://www.internetlivestats.com/