Criminals evolve, but crime remains the same: JLT Canada Public Sector Summit

Ransomware, skimming devices and connected homes leave people at risk

Crimes haven’t changed—criminals have just gotten more technologically savvy.

That was the message crime risk consultant Chris Mathers delivered at the JLT Canada Public Sector Summit on Thursday.

“There’s no new crime,” he said. “But there are new ways of getting that crime to the consumer.”

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Giving a presentation on crime in the 21st century, Mathers—who spent 20 years as an undercover operative for the RCMP, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Customs Service—said that many of the cybercrimes perpetrated today are no different in nature than crimes of yore.

Ransomware, he offered, is just the modern day equivalent of taking hostages for ransom.

“I always say if you’ve been ransomwared, pay the money,” Mathers said. “Because if you don’t, you’re not going to get your data back.”

Mathers cautioned against using public Wi-Fi, noting the ease with which criminals can steal personal data over public networks using skimming devices known as pineapples—much like a pickpocket who might steal your wallet.

“Using Wi-Fi is like picking gum up off the street and chewing it,” he quipped. “I know criminal groups who work the airport full-time skimming people’s information using devices like a pineapple.”

Mathers also suggested that connected homes could pose cyber security risks, since hackers can get into private home networks by gaining access to connected devices such as smart thermostats.

“Once they do that, they’re into your network completely,” he said. “And they can do this. Most of them have never kissed a girl, but they can do this.”

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