Over the course of 2018, you may have seen an increase in the number of messages about data privacy and the use of cookies when you visit a website.

This isn't a coincidence – it's a response to the arrival of one of the world's most expansive cybercrime laws, the EU's General Data Protection Regulation1 (GDPR). By putting stronger regulations in place to protect personal information, laws like the GDPR are increasingly being brought in around the world to protect both individuals and wider society from a huge range of online criminal activity.

It's no surprise that steps like this are being taken. Cybercrime cost the global economy $600 billion in 2017 alone2.


What's the big deal?

As the world becomes ever more digital, cybercrime will persist as a major risk – to governments, businesses and individuals alike.

It can work along a number of channels:

  • Malware: any kind of hostile technology that finds its way onto a target's computer network. It can include adware, spyware, ransomware, worms, viruses or bots – some of which cause obvious harm, where others are more malicious and harder to detect.
  • Spam: irrelevant information sent to a user, often as a cover for more harmful malware.
  • Denial of service: a strategy where an IT system is forced to shut down by an attacker, often by overloading the service with hostile traffic.
  • Phishing: a strategy of gaining access to a target or asset, by posing as a more innocent entity.
  • Social Engineering: A form of phishing that seeks to exploit and manipulate human psychology; a form of fraud.

A cyberattack can use any combination of these methods, and new approaches are being developed all the time.

The impact of cybercrime is significant: along with that $600 billion annual bill, 2017 also saw the theft of more than 2.5 billion personal records3 . It can also cause serious damage to public services and infrastructure, with both hospitals and power networks having been targeted by attackers in recent years.


What can you do?

While national and international legislation like GDPR is making strides in controlling the spread and impact of cybercrime, the response also has to come from every one of us as individuals.

Some basic steps you can take to combat cybercrime include:

  • Keeping security software up to date – only 57% of people4 say that they do this
  • Changing passwords regularly – 35% of US consumers5 said they never change their passwords
  • Exercising good discipline around things like suspicious websites and email attachments

Cybercriminals can target you in your professional or personal capacities, so these steps should be taken whether at work or at home.

With services like online banking, this is especially important. This is why your bank will often use multi-factor identification practices, such as time-limited passcodes and text messages, to make sure your accounts stay extra safe when you're doing business online.

1HSBC, 2018
2CNBC, 2018
3GDPR Report, 2018
4HSBC Deck
5PC Magazine, 2018

Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions about financial crime.

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