The advent of cryptocurrency has been “a godsend” for those looking to launder their proceeds from illegal activities, according to Lisa Forte, co-founder of Red Goat Cyber Security and a known leader and speaker in the field.
Speaking during a roundtable discussion with media representatives organised by BMIT, the cybersecurity expert said that ‘following the money’ is a futile exercise nowadays as crypto has made it easier than ever to obscure the source and destination of funds.
Ms Forte was making the point that deterrence, avoidance and effective response measures must be organised at company level, as victims of cybercrime have little to no chance of ever seeing their funds again.
She explained that even if the criminals’ digital safeguards fail and they are found and identified, the cross-border nature of the crime makes it very difficult for the police to take any effective action.
“In a typical example, you might need to coordinate with law enforcement agencies in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa,” said Ms Forte.
“Evidence would have to be collected in line with the particular practices and laws of each country – and not every country necessarily has legislative frameworks that tackle cybercrime comprehensively.”
Finally, they would have to be tried in different courts with different expectations and different standards.
All this makes the risk of conducting cybercrime “very, very low” according to Ms Forte, who adds that until the United Nations mandates international cooperation on the matter, victims can largely “forget about” justice being done.
Ensuring that one’s organisation does not fall victim to cybercrime, and known how to take the appropriate steps immediately should that happen, are therefore crucial measures that businesses should actively prepare for.
Microsoft, which was also represented at the discussion, recently published its 2023 Digital Defence Report, where it noted that 70 per cent of companies affected by cyberattacks in 2023 are small and medium businesses.
The threat is diverse and widespread – the tech giant tracks over 300 cybercrime actors, including 160 backed by nation states and 50 ransomware groups, some of which are offering ransomware-as-a-service in a broader shift towards a “cyber mercenary marketplace”.
Despite the scale and sophisticated nature of the threat, most companies’ best defence is awareness, throughout the organisation, of basic online safety practices.
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