Cybercrime on the rise in Kazakhstan

NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM – With the rapid development of technologies, crimes in the online space have increased. Cybercrime is also increasing in Kazakhstan. More information on what defines cybercrime and how to prevent it can be found in Kazinform’s latest analytical article.

On the one hand, technologies have made our lives easier and more comfortable, but on the other hand, they have brought about multiple challenges. Freedom of expression online, protection of users’ personal data, security of information transmission and digital privacy are just a few examples.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, although there is no universally applied definition of cybercrime, it defines cybercrime as an act that violates the law, which is perpetrated using information and communication technology (ICT) to target networks, systems, data, websites and/or technology or facilitate a crime.

The difference between cybercrime and traditional crime is that cybercrime has no physical or geographical borders. Along with this, committing cybercrimes requires less effort and less time.

Cybercrimes can target individuals, businesses, organizations, and nations, and anytime they exploit human or security vulnerabilities to steal passwords, data, or money. Crimes can range from hacking, phishing, which is the attempt to steal sensitive data such as credit card and login information, through emails, websites and text messages that appear legitimate, and distributed denial-of-service malware, a malicious attempt by multiple connected devices to attack a target and disrupt its business, often requiring extortion.

According to Yelzhan Kabyshev, a lawyer at the Digital Rights Center Qazaqstan, the problem of cybercrime is getting worse year by year given the rapid digitization of Kazakhstan’s economy driven by the state program Digital Kazakhstan.

“We have a separate article in the Penal Code in the area of ​​information and communication. There are nine criminal articles related only to cybercrimes. In other words, these are crimes related to illegal unauthorized access to any information, any database, information system and illegal possession of information. And we also have criminal sections in the Criminal Code that provide for crimes related to telecommunications networks. It is, for example, spreading false information and inciting discord,” Kabyshev said in an interview for this story.

According to him, one of the most popular cybercrimes in Kazakhstan is leaking personal data.

“In the part we have in the administrative code on administrative offenses and in the penal code, there are articles such as the article on unlawful collection of personal data processing if the data operator sends for processing. There is an administrative responsibility for this. If there has been significant damage, it already falls under the criminal offence, article 148 of the criminal code,” he explained.

Personal data leaks can include information ranging from card numbers to a person’s first and last name and individual identification number.

Data leaks in the post-service are also common.

“We found a forum, where they [referring to hackers] seemed to be selling the database for $25,000. Here is this database containing almost all personal data. As an example, the hacker posted the first 1000 rows of this database on the forum, and this database contained data indicating whether this person had bank cards, name, first name, middle name, address, telephone , date of birth, gender, mailings, deposits and money orders. A lot of data was also current to December 2021. The hacker was selling access to the server, and there were around 12 million records. The total weight was about 110 gigabytes, and there were 44 tables of this data,” Kabyshev said.

The expert said that there is hardly any system that cannot be hacked. But there is also a human factor.

“If you have invested a lot of money in the technical component of your platform, which contains personal data, but you have not properly trained the employees who work with this system on the use of software, e-mails and passwords. Then all that investment is just leveled off,” Kabyshev said.

Cybercrimes are increasing in Kazakhstan, mainly internet fraud

In Kazakhstan, the Ministry of Interior warns of an increasing number of cybercrimes, mainly internet fraud, and that criminals are becoming savvy in new tricks.

Of the total number of frauds in the country in January alone, 43.3% represent Internet fraud. The latest data in May indicates that there were 24,501 cases of fraud and 10,478 were Internet fraud, or 42.7%.

“Cases of covert calls from police and other law enforcement agencies with the use of dial-up numbers similar to the subscriber numbers of mobile phone operators in Kazakhstan have become more frequent. Fraudsters, posing as investigators or investigators, report that relatives or acquaintances of citizens have approached the police in connection with an alleged online loan. To clarify the data, criminals offer citizens to provide account information, as well as personal information: name, first name, middle name and individual identification number. There have been cases where citizens, under the pressure of fraudulent manipulation, installed applications designed for remote access on their devices,” said ministry spokeswoman Shugyla Turlybek.

All of these actions are aimed at gaining access to bank cards and deposits of potential victims for further money transfer or loan arrangement. In the event of such calls, the ministry recommends hanging up and contacting the bank to clarify the details.

“It is important to remember that neither the police nor bank employees ever ask to confirm a bank account or personal information. To keep your bank accounts safe, it is necessary to follow basic security measures,” she said.

Between 2017 and 2021, the number of internet frauds recorded in the country increased more than tenfold, from 2,000 in 2017 to 21,000 in 2021.

Citizens are most often victims of fraud in the field of e-commerce on popular sites and social networks. Criminals can also steal money through online loans and bank cards, under the guise of investing, betting, playing lotteries.

What can be done to prevent such crimes?

At the national level, to minimize these crimes, the General Prosecutor’s Office has drawn up a special roadmap, which provides for the introduction of digital technologies, the improvement of existing regulatory documents, as well as the development of computer programs and applications. .

A set of measures is implemented to raise awareness of Internet fraud and illegal activities of financial pyramids and similar organizations. According to Kabyshev, digital literacy is key to fighting cybercrime. One of the goals of the national program of Digital Kazakhstan is to improve the digital literacy of the population.

According to the latest data provided by the Bureau of National Statistics.

“The highest level was recorded in Nur-Sultan – 94.6%, then in the Almaty region – 89.3%, then in the city of Almaty – 88.9%. The lowest level, however, was in the regions of North Kazakhstan, West Kazakhstan, Akmola and Karaganda,” Kabyshev said.

Digital literacy enables a person to use technology safely and avoid all the dangers and challenges associated with it.

“I think not only the state, but also ordinary people, especially when young people help their elderly family members to protect themselves from fraud,” the expert said.

How to protect yourself?

Anyone can fall victim to cybercrime, but some common rules will help you prevent it from happening.

A person should ensure that their software and operating systems are up to date, they should not give their bank card details, account numbers and security codes to unauthorized persons, avoid dubious links to banking sites, which look legitimate but may turn out to be malicious, and do not enter your personal data there.

Kabyshev advised people to educate themselves and understand some basic algorithms. He said there are many useful articles online, including on the e-government website.

Written by Assel Satubaldina

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