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Cybercrime on the rise

Tracking cybercriminals from foreign countries takes a lot of time – and often yields no result. Finnish bank systems have not been directly breached. Instead a lot of cybercrime targets customers, who are less well protected.

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Dangers of a connected world. Image: Yle

Cybercrime is on the increase. In 2013, the National Cyber Security Centre Finland, which operates under the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority FICORA, registered more than 100,000 cybercrimes in Finland.

Combating the crime is difficult, as the perpetrators usually have foreign ip-addresses.

“It’s challenging, as this usually requires international co-operation with many different countries. For example, in nine months we’ve got answers from the United States to a few things, so it takes quite a while, especially in the United States,” says Inspector Timo Piiroinen from the Central Criminal Police.

Within the EU, co-operation works rather well, while countries such as China, Korea or Russia sometimes never even reply to questions or requests.

Carefully planned breaches

The National Cyber Security Centre Finland started operation last year. It automatically notifies teleoperators if a contaminated computer is detected in the Finnish network.

Only a tiny fraction of cybercrimes comes to the attention of the police. An individual computer-user may not even know they have been a victim, if their machine has been breached. Meanwhile, businesses are acutely aware of the danger posed by breaches – and the damage these can do their public image.

“In a targeted attack a lot of work goes into contaminating the target, and collecting information as planned in advance,” says Cyber Security Centre chief Jarkko Saarimäki.

The weakest link

When it comes to banks, malware or “malicious software” poses the biggest challenge to the police.

Bank customers will be relieved to hear that Finnish banks have not been hacked into – that’s according to the Federation of Finnish Financial Services (FFI). However, phishing for customers’ online ids and passwords is common enough.

“Cybercriminals usually focus on the weakest link, and at the moment this unfortunately means the customers. Consumers can be very skilfully deceived to give their passwords, or to make unfounded payments, for example,” Mika Linna from FFI says.

Surprisingly mobile payments seem to be safer than online banking. Linna notes that it’s more difficult to hack bank applications than web-page services. 

As for credit cards, their safety has improved through the co-operation of credit card and payment terminal companies.

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