Hackers turn to 'silent stealing' in bid to exploit home workers

Man holding an empty wallet with laptop in background
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Cyber criminals are abandoning huge money heists in favour of small-scale scams that targeting individuals working from home during the pandemic.

This is according to a new report by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) which reports that cyber fraudsters have reinvented themselves during the pandemic.

Dubbed “silent stealing”, the new go-to tactic is based on “a working hypothesis that criminals are going down market”.

The RUSI report states that, although “trying to steal £10 million from a bank is an option”, cyber criminals are opting to carry multiple heists for significantly smaller amounts of money.

“Stealing £10 a hundred thousand times is going to give you a good return and probably go below the radar,” says the report. “Are you going to call Action Fraud or your bank in the case where you lose £10?”

For many, the answer is no, likely due to fears of not being taken seriously or a simple lack of time to report the theft.

The report also warns that those who have taken to working from home in recent months are especially vulnerable to being scammed, as criminals seek to exploit the cyber security vulnerabilities that have resulted from the shift to online/home working.


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Recent research from Cisco found secure access to be the top cyber security challenge when supporting remote workers, with more than half of corporate laptops (56%) and personal devices (54%) being difficult to protect while employees are working remotely. Moreover, 60% of those surveyed said that they are worried about the privacy of remote collaboration tools.

Brett Beranek, VP & general manager of Security & Biometrics Line of Business at Nuance Communications, told IT Pro that the RUSI report’s findings “should come as no surprise”.

“Fraudsters don’t stop their crimes because of a pandemic. In fact, they often seize the immense change that comes with an event like this to ramp up their activity – changing tactics and targeting individuals and businesses whilst they are at their most vulnerable and least protected in order to manipulate their data and steal their personal information,” he said, before recommending the use of biometric technology in order to ensure a secure online presence.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.