When they ask for ransom, crooks don’t want this
Ric Edelman It's Tuesday, September 26th. We're living our personal and professional lives online nowadays, and that means we have to work harder and harder to protect our data. And you know what that means? The importance of cyber security. Global spending on cybersecurity is going to triple by the end of the decade, projected to hit over $400 billion. Are you at risk? The most vulnerable are people under age 20 and over age 75. Not because you're the least sophisticated or the most naive, but because that's who the scam artists are going after the most. Okay, maybe that's because you are the least sophisticated or the most naive.
The most common technology scams these days - phishing scams, romance scams and family scams. Phishing. That's spelled “ph”, not “f”, in case you didn't know. That's got nothing to do with fish. It refers to the bait. You get an email or a text and it's got an offer like a prize or a discount or a false invoice or a job opportunity or something else to hook you. And there's a link in that email or text. You click that link, your device gets infected with malware, or you're tricked into providing your own personal information or sending money in a romance scam. You go to an online dating site. Chat bots pose as real people. They even have fake photos generated by AI, even fake videos. You get in lots of conversations with crooks or their chat bots.
You think you're talking to a real person who's honest like you. Soon they tell you they've got money troubles or they have an investment opportunity. And you, to preserve and enhance the new relationship you've got, you send them money.
In the family scam, there's new AI tech that can create a voice that sounds identical to your spouse's voice or your child's voice. You think you're talking with them, but you're really talking with the crooks. How do they do this? All they've got to do is call your phone and listen to your voicemail message. That's your voice. All they need are those few short sentences. That's enough for them to create a fake voice that can say anything they wanted to say in your voice. Or, like I said, your spouse's voice or your child's voice. They then send you a message that you get on your phone what seems to be coming from your spouse or child. They convince you there's trouble. The child's stranded abroad or in jail and they need bail money or they're in the hospital. They need medical bills paid right now. And you're the only one who can help grandma. And don't tell mom. Or they make it sound like they've been kidnaped. You must send money now or they'll be killed.
One of the newest of these scams that’s on the rise is not phishing, but “Quishing”. Instead of a “PH”, it's a Q, and it uses QR codes as bait. You see a cool ad and you click on the QR code. What you don't know is that the ad is real, but the crooks stuck their fake QR sticker on top of the real QR code. This even happens in restaurants where they have QR codes on their menus. So when you click, you're going to the fake site instead of the real site, you end up handing over your private info or they end up downloading malware onto your device.
The only good news about cyber scams is that very little of it is involving crypto these days. Crooks have learned that asking for bitcoin is a bad idea because bitcoin is digital money and digital money leaves a digital footprint. It's easy for them to get caught. Crypto's use in illicit financial transactions is down 65% this year, and that's less than one quarter of 1% of all crypto transactions.
So put crypto aside, but you still need to be worried about the rest of cyber scams like SIM swapping. That's when a thief steals your phone number and assigns it a new SIM card in a phone they control. That means they now have full access to everyone on your phone and all access to your online accounts.
There's also the OTP bots, one time password robots. These things trick you into sharing your authentication codes that you get via text or email. You know, there are now three quarters of a million people working in the cybersecurity field. Information security analysts, cybersecurity analysts, cybersecurity engineer, consultant and information security managers. In other words, you don't have to get mad. You don't have to get scared about cybercrime. You can get even. In fact, you can profit from all this. Nearly every company agrees that cybersecurity is a business risk. Three years ago, only half of company boards felt that way. Now they all do. So you can bet that big companies are authorizing big increases in budget spending on cybersecurity to protect their companies.
There's only one conclusion you can reach. There's an investment opportunity here. Morgan Stanley says revenues at security software vendors was $45,000,000,000 three years ago, but it's expanding 12% a year. That makes cybersecurity one of the fastest growing sectors of all technology. One way you can invest in this is with the Global X Cybersecurity ETF. The symbol is BUG, bug. This ETF invests in companies that will gain from the increased adoption of cybersecurity technology, companies that are developing and managing security protocols, preventing attacks, building cyber safe networks and apps, computers and mobile devices. Learn more at Global X ETFs.com or ask your financial advisor about the Global X Cybersecurity ETF, symbol BUG. See you tomorrow.