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Remain cautious when using the internet as EU report outlines increases in illicit behaviour online

Priority Level: 
29 September 2016

You are advised to remain cautious when using the internet following the release by Europol–the European Union's law enforcement agency–of a report that finds cybercrime is on the rise in Europe.

The report was prepared by Europol's European Cybercrime Centre based on contributions from EU member states, Europol staff and partners in private industry, the financial services and academia. 

The Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment 2016's findings included:

  • Encrypting ransomware (a type of malware) that 'locks' users' files and directs victims to pay, typically in digital currency, for the key to 'unlock' them, has become the most prominent malware threat (overshadowing data stealing malware and banking Trojans¾malware that aims to capture online banking details).

    In Australia, Stay Smart Online has issued Alerts about ransomware and how to minimise your risk.
  • As mobile devices operate more as mobile computers, the nature and complexity of malware attacking mobile devices and the methods of infecting those devices are beginning to more closely mirror those of 'conventional' desktop malware.

    In Australia, Stay Smart Online has information about protecting your mobile device.
  • Following grooming and social engineering, victims of child sexual exploitation are increasingly being subjected to coercion and extortion. Offenders apply this influence to obtain further child abuse material, financial gain or physical access to the victim.

    In Australia, Stay Smart Online has information about protecting youth online, while the Office of the Children's eSafety Commissioner provides online safety education for Australia's children and young people.
  • The proportion of card fraud attributed to card-not-present transactions continues to grow. Levels of fraud have increased across almost all sectors, with the purchases of physical goods, airline tickets, car rentals and accommodation causing the heaviest losses. Also, organised crime groups are starting to manipulate or compromise payments involving contactless (NFC) cards.

    In Australia, Stay Smart Online advises that people who transact online using credit or debit cards be careful about the websites they purchase from. You should always look for the padlock symbol and 'https' at the start of the website address, and only purchase from reputable websites.

    You should also be careful not to click on links or open attachments in suspect emails to avoid infecting your computer with malware that may attempt to steal your personal financial details. If you think that your computer is infected, change your username and password and alert your bank or other financial services provider. Monitor your accounts closely for illegitimate activity.

    Always be aware of the location of your contactless payment cards and wary of any suspicious activity that may involve unauthorised debits.
  • An increase of targeted phishing aimed at high value targets was reported by law enforcement and the private sector alike. A rising quality and apparent authenticity of phishing campaigns was also observed, making these increasingly difficult to tell apart from the genuine communication.

    In Australia, Stay Smart Online has information about protecting yourself from hoax emails.

More information

Stay Smart Online has more information on implementing security policies for businesses and socialising safely online.

The information provided here is of a general nature. Everyone's circumstances are different. If you require specific advice you should contact your local technical support provider.