Cybercrime agency Europol has warned that organised crime groups (OCGs) are increasingly using cyber scams to help fund other activities by taking advantage of poor security in place at many organisations.
The law enforcement agency's newly published Serious Organised Crime Threat Assessment (Socta) report highlighted the growing threat from network gangs across Europe.
"The volume of cybercrime offences looks set to increase in the future. This increase will closely mirror the growth of the attack surface, as the internet becomes even more essential to everyday life," the report warned.
"In particular, the growth of mobile devices as the primary means of accessing internet resources will lead to a greater targeting of these devices by criminals.
"Malware affecting these devices has already been seen, although mobile botnets have not yet been fully realised."
The activities listed included basic phishing and click fraud scams. Europol also reported seeing an alarming increase in the use of the scams to fund child exploitation rings from regions outside Europe.
"The proliferation of internet access in Africa and Asia is creating additional opportunities and spaces for OCGs targeting public and private parties in the EU," it said.
"Cybercrime in the form of large scale data breaches, online frauds and child sexual exploitation poses an ever increasing threat to the EU, while profit-driven cybercrime is becoming an enabler for other criminal activity."
Europol said that the increase is largely due to a lack of security awareness within the region and ongoing flaws in most companies' security models.
"Members of the public and organisations expose themselves as targets for criminal activity, for instance, by making their data freely available via social network sites," Europol reported.
"System security is a concern and challenge for many private sector companies, partly due to the outsourcing of administrative, maintenance and development tasks and partly due to the high costs associated with effective prevention measures."
The Europol report comes during widespread warnings within the security community that the threat posed by cybercrime is growing.
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