The World is Going After Cybercriminals, But Will It Make a Difference?

China is just one of the many places where you can find hackers and those creating and peddling the latest versions of ransomware. Thanks to the internet and its evil twin (the Dark Web), evildoers can be found in literally every country across the globe ‒ and their cybercriminal community continues to thrive.

While some reputable sources claim the number of attacks may be decreasing (by as much as 30% in this report), others suggest those activities are growing at an exponential rate with each passing year. Both sides seem to agree that the severity and costs associated with these incidents are on the rise. Most expect the threats to continue escalating with AI entering the equation and the proliferation of innovative new tools and tactics ‒ all available on the Dark Web.

The one point many fail to acknowledge is the efforts of law enforcement agencies and other cyber sleuths across the world. Plenty of people with a deep set of resources are hard at work attempting to identify, track down, and bring cybercriminals to justice. That’s not easy.

While MSPs and other IT professionals are working defense, a strong contingent of government-empowered technical intellects, investigators, and attorneys are handling the offense. They are encircling the globe in search of clues that will lead them to cybercriminals and the syndicates that support their activities. From the FBI, Interpol, and other national law enforcement agencies to non-government entities such as the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the Internet Watch Foundation, and Spamhaus.

Just last week, authorities arrested 13 people in the United States, Australia, the UK, France, and Italy for using stolen credit and banking information to get away with more than $530 million. While U.S. officials handed out 36 indictments, those located in countries without extradition treaties will likely escape capture and continue their misdeeds with unabated vigor. That’s just one of the many obstacles facing those attempting to stamp out (or at least severely diminish) cybercriminal activities.

What Does it Mean for Your Clients?

While those global efforts are commendable, you have to wonder if they are having any real impact. If we (people, businesses, countries) increased investments on the offensive side of security, would it have a bigger impact? Many of the experts believe the effect would be minimal since there are just too many places for skilled cybercriminals and the people who sponsor their activities to hide.

If you’ve ever accidentally stepped on an ant colony, it’s a similar experience. After an initial flurry of activity following the assault and work disruption, members of both groups scatter and melt into the surrounding area. Cybercriminals with government sponsorship and protection or who are part of a well-connected syndicate are usually able to stay quite a few of steps ahead of investigators.

Despite the best efforts of all those working the front lines, the hackers and purveyors of ransomware are expected to remain a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future. The best offense remains a solid defense.

Proactivity is the Key

As long as there is an incentive, cybercriminals will do all that they can to overcome the latest security tools and foil the most ingenious defensive strategies. It’s what they do.

That can’t discourage MSPs nor their clients from investing in new solutions and taking a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity. From email security and encryption to continual monitoring of networks and the Dark Web, the current objective for any business should be to keep a step or two ahead of hackers and ransomware.

It’s like the story of two people running away from a bear. You don’t have to be quicker than the attacking animal, just faster than the other person. In other words, MSPs need to keep their clients from becoming an easy mark for cybercriminals.

That’s not always easy. Fortunately, as a channel professional, you can lean on a host of vendors, peers, and other partners to build and maintain formidable defenses until cybercrime fades away. Until that day comes, remain diligent and ensure your customers understand that those who threaten their businesses never sleep ‒ and neither do the solutions you employ to keep them safe.