The Rise of Sophisticated Cybercrime and Fraud

3 October 2017

As more and more consumer payments move online, cybercrime and fraud is on the up; online scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated and prevalent around the country and across the whole world.

The problem cannot be understated. In fact, as reported in The Telegraph earlier this year, online fraud is now the most common crime in the UK. Almost one in ten people have fallen victim to cybercrime and fraud, according to the annual Crime Survey of England and Wales (CSEW).

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More than five million cyber offences are now thought to occur each year in the UK, accounting for almost half of all crime in the country.

And so, the questions are – how are these cyber criminals and fraudsters doing it, what should you look out for and what can you do to protect yourself?

Understanding Cybercrime and Fraud

There are so many words that we can use to describe fraud – scams, cons, swindles, deceits, ploys, extortions, shams, skulduggery. In essence, they all amount to the same thing – trickery being used to gain a dishonest advantage over another person, usually for financial gain.

In the digital age, fraudsters are positively spoilt for choice of online avenues they can use for exploitation. With new tactics emerging all the time, it becomes harder and harder for the banks and card issuers and ultimately the consumers to keep their finances safe and indeed spend with confidence.  

No one is immune from these fraudsters, with cybercriminals luring people in with fake emails, purporting to be from the likes of Amazon, beautifully decorated with bogus next-day delivery promises, online-only deals and discount voucher codes. These false messages are sent to thousands of shoppers in an attempt to steal bank details and credit or debit card information. It’s a tactic known as phishing and it’s one of the most popular going.

Pharming, Spyware, and Fake Online Storefronts

Pharming is a variation of phishing, though rather than using emails and other messages to lure people to dodgy sites where their banking information can be gleaned, manipulated browsers do the job instead. It works when malicious code is installed onto a personal computer or server, then misdirects users to a fraudulent website. These are usually ‘dressed up’ as if it were the real thing – people are then tricked into making false purchases from a bogus ecommerce storefront, unknowingly divulging their card and bank details to criminals.

In other circumstances, spyware can sometimes be installed onto computers (often via a separate phishing scam), which is then used to commit identity theft by ‘spying out’ sensitive data when the user is online making genuine purchases.

Protecting Yourself Against Cybercrime and Fraud

First, you need to be aware. That might sound a little trite, but often phishing scams and the like are successful simply because people aren’t looking closely enough at the correspondence they’re receiving. They’re also not looking at the websites they’re being directed towards when making a purchase.

British shoppers, so the experts say, are amongst the worst when it comes to falling for online scams, especially around the holiday and sales seasons. Speaking in The Telegraph on Christmas Eve last year, Nick Shaw, European head of Californian security firm Symantec's Norton division, said: “particularly at Christmas, the sheer volume of transactions and abnormal spending patterns can be hard to keep track of. With the surge in online transactions, cybercriminals are looking to cash in on the Christmas cheer. Large online shopping events can motivate cybercriminals to target bargain hunters in greater numbers.”

He added that according to a study by the firm, British shoppers who were affected by cybercrime in the past year are the most likely to “continue engaging in risky online behaviours, leaving themselves vulnerable to further attacks. Many are still willing to click on links from senders they don’t know or open malicious attachments.”

However, even the super-cautious can still sometimes be caught out. All a cybercriminal needs to start spending someone else’s money are some basic personal information (name, address, email address) and the credit or debit card details that are usually printed right there on the card. To obtain this information, fraudsters can now use a so-called Distributed Guessing Attack to steal card details (card number, expiry date, and security code) in as little as six seconds, according to reports.  

The fraudsters use computers to systematically fire different variations of security data at hundreds of websites simultaneously. Then, by a process of elimination, the criminals can verify the correct card number, expiry date and three-digit security number in the blink of an eye.

Enhanced Security and Payment Protection with Da Vinci Choice

The problem with expiry dates and security codes is that they are static and usually printed on the card being used. As soon as a cybercriminal has this information – obtained through phishing, pharming, sophisticated guesswork, or whatever it may be – it becomes frighteningly easy to start spending.

The Da Vinci Choice card is the solution. The size and shape of a regular funding card, the Da Vinci Choice card is in fact much more. In fact, it’s a highly sophisticated electronic device with its own battery, keypad, eInk display and micro-processor.

Da Vinci allows users to link their funding cards to the device through a unique feature in the card’s payment chip that provides a logical relationship between the Da Vinci Choice card and the funding card details stored securely elsewhere.

There is no static security code or even a full expiry date printed on the Da Vinci Choice card. Instead, when making purchases online, users must enter their secret four-digit Da Vinci PIN into the back of the card itself. Da Vinci then generates a single-use, two-digit code to use as the card’s month of expiry and a separate three-digit one-time code for use as the card’s security code.

As soon as these codes have been used, they become completely worthless. If a cybercriminal were to somehow steal them, they simply wouldn’t work. This is because each time an online purchase is made with the Da Vinci Choice card, a new security code must be generated, which only happens when the PIN is entered. So long as the Da Vinci Choice card user keeps his/her Da Vinci PIN a secret, no one can else can ever use it.

The same cannot be said for the cards they’ll have linked to it but as long as they’re being used to fund purchases through the Da Vinci Choice card, they will be completely protected from fraud.  

Secure, Worry-free Online Shopping with Da Vinci Choice

Cybercrime and fraud are growing issues that are impacting consumers everywhere. As criminals become increasingly sophisticated, vigilance – though it remains important – will only protect an online shopper inasmuch as they keep their wits about them at all times. But with Da Vinci Choice, even the most nervous shoppers can start to relax. The enhanced security and payment protection features built into the Da Vinci Choice card eliminate the risk of funding card details being criminally obtained by fraudsters. One-time security codes make for worry-free online spending. As long as users keep their Da Vinci PIN a secret, though the waves of cybercrime and fraud may rise all around them, they’ll be protected.

Launching in early 2018, start enjoying secure, fret-free online shopping by registering for your Da Vinci Choice card today.

Written by: Simon Hewitt, CEO,

Simon founded Da Vinci based on his passion and expertise in the information and financial security. As a leader in his field, he loves to write about his observations in order to help progress the industry as a whole.