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The 10 biggest cyber crimes of 2011

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1. Sony PlayStation Network hack 

The crime: The names, addresses and other personal data of about 77 million people with accounts on the PlayStation Network (PSN) were stolen. 

Lesson for 2012: Make sure that your website server software is up to date. Regard website hacking as a potential threat and put in place measures to control its access and content, especially if you store personal details on your website or servers. 

2. WikiLeaks 

The crime: The organisation was held responsible for releasing top secret information about governments across the world on its website. 

Lesson for 2012: If sensitive information about your business is leaked into the public domain, it could damage your reputation. Be careful what information you share online and make sure your staff members are as cautious.

3. Student loan phishing scam

The crime: Students across the UK mistakenly handed over access to their accounts and card details after receiving emails asking them to confirm their details. They were scammed anywhere between £1,000 and £5,000. 

Lesson for 2012: Never volunteer your card or account details in an email or phonecall. Neither your bank nor any other companies will ask to update financial details in this way. 

4. Facebook clickjacking scams

The crime: An example of clickjacking is where links to videos on Facebook take you to a fake page asking for your login details to see the video. By entering your details, you have given the criminals access to your account and may have downloaded malware. 

Lesson for 2012: Make sure employees understand that they need to be responsible whle using your network and think twice before clicking on a link. Implement an acceptable use policy (these are available to download at no charge at 

5. BlackBerry hack and service disruption

The crime: Research in Motion’s BlackBerry blog was hacked after the London riots warning Blackberry not to assist the police. In a totally unrelated event shortly after, BlackBerry’s entire service went down for a week. 

Lesson for 2012: Make sure that mobiles are password/pin protected and any vital information on them is backed up to an external hard-drive so that losing your phone isn’t the end of the world. 

6. Fraudulent Android apps

The crime: Google removed 22 applications from its Android Market after they were discovered to contain fraudulent software. Apps posing as popular third-party software such as Angry Birds tricked users into sending premium text messages.

Lesson for 2012: Similar to click-jacking scams, make sure that all employees are aware of the risks of downloading applications that could harbour any nasty viruses. Make sure you have strict controls over what software can be installed.

7. Welsh 419 scam: remake of an old classic

The crime: The usual “African prince seeks refuge in the UK needs your bank account details in return for financial gain” scam was sent out in the Welsh language to improve its authenticity. 

Lesson for 2012: Cyber criminals are constantly devising new scams. Always be cautious: don’t believe an email just because it knows your name. 

8. Fake anti-virus “scareware”

The crime: Earlier this year, the first fake anti-virus software was found on a Mac. Most likely, the user paid for the virus, posing as a fake-AV to be installed on the computer.

Lesson for 2012: Typically, these scams get their success from people trying to save money on security software. Don?t cut corners, it will come back to haunt you. Install security software from reputable, known sources.

9. Microsoft phone scam

The crime: Victims have been receiving calls from someone claiming to be from Microsoft stating that their PC is broken. After convincing the victim to hand over remote access of their computer, the e-criminal steals sensitive data such as bank details and passwords. 

Lesson for 2012: Microsoft will never contact you if something is wrong with your PC you always contact them. Ask for a number to call them back on and look it up online. Don?t give them remote access to your computer or give them your credit card details.

10. News of the World phone hacking

The crime: Not just celebrities” phones were hacked. A former Northern Ireland-based army intelligence officer alleges that his computer was hacked by News of the World journalists. 

Lesson for 2012: The only way to defend against these attacks is by building strong defences around your data. Avoid common passwords such as “password” or “123456” and have up-to-date security software. Use a difficult password and frequently change it.

For more information on how to stay safe online visit: and

Tony Neate is a member of e-Crime Wales’ steering group and managing director of Get Safe Online.



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