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What Cybercrime is and How You Can Prevent It

What is Cybercrime and How Can You Prevent It

What is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime is criminal activities that are carried out by means of computers or through the Internet. These crimes usually target computers or networks or even utilizes them to carry out those attacks. Most of the time, cybercrimes are committed for personal or diplomatic reasons, and rarely with the aim to destroy computers, other than the fact to make a profit. Half of the cybercrimes are organized and are executed by technologically skilled personnel that use advanced procedures, whilst the rest are usually committed by novice hackers.

Different types of Cybercrime

Cybercrime usually comes down under two classifications, which are Criminal activity that targets, for example, computers, which often involve different sorts of malicious software and viruses. The other class is a criminal activity that utilizes computers in order to carry out cybercrimes. There are also some particular examples of cybercrime, which include:

  • Internet fraud
  • Identity fraud
  • Financial data or card payment theft
  • Theft of corporate data
  • Extortion
  • Malware attacks
  • Cryptocurrency jacking
  • Espionage

Examples of Cybercrime

most common forms of digital crime

Previously looking at the different types of cybercrime, this section will look into specific examples of cybercrime being carried out.

Distributed DoS attacks (DDoS)

DDoS is a type of cybercrime attack that hackers use to bring down a computer system or network. This type of attack overwhelms the target system by using standard communication protocols in order to spam the network with connection requests. A real-life example would be the 2018 GitHub DDoS attack. The popular developer platform witnessed traffic that clocked in at 1.35 terabits per second, which was later traced back to tens of thousands of unique endpoints. This attack set the record for the most traffic being used to attack a system.

Malware

This is a type of attack where a computer system or other types of systems are infected with malicious computer software or some other kind of virus. When a computer is infected with a virus or corrupted by malware, it could be used for several purposes, such as stealing personal data, causing damage to data, and even carrying out other criminal acts.

A well-known event of a malware attack is the WannaCry ransomware attack that took place in 2017, which was used to extort bitcoins by stealing people’s data.

Identity theft

Identity theft is another type of cybercrime in which cybercriminals usually carry out various different attacks to steal the victim’s personal identity. This usually involves the victim’s identification of social security number and credit card information, with which the cybercriminals take on the victim’s identity and act like them, whilst making purchases or other illegal actions.

Cryptocurrency jacking

Cryptocurrency jacking is when hackers mine cryptocurrencies using resources that they do not own. For example, the cybercriminals do this by getting the victim to click on a malicious link through an email, which loads malware code onto the computer and infects it, or even through an infected website that does the same execution. The code then works in the background while the victim uses the computer normally.

In most cases, this goes completely unnoticed, and the only sign that it could be happening is that the computer has a slower performance or starts lagging when executing different commands.

Cyber Extortion

Cyber extortion is when cybercriminals demand money from a victim, usually in bitcoin, and if they are not paid, they then threaten to carry out an attack on the victim’s computer system. Usually, cybercriminals also hack your data, computer system, or any other sensitive information as a hostage until their demands are met, which is usually a payment. The attacks they threaten to carry out are usually in the form of ransomware or a DDoS attack, which could have heavy consequences.

Cyber Espionage

Cyber espionage is similar to previously mentioned examples of cybercrime; however, this usually happens with government or company data. Cybercriminals use computer networks to gain illicit access to confidential information, which is usually held by the government or other organizations. This type of confidential information usually involves state secrets and company plans, and the hackers try to extort their victims for a payment. This is also the case when governments use this form of cyberattacks on other governments to steal secrets and obtain plans in order to benefit their own state.

Who is at most risk?

Based on the aforementioned examples, cybercriminals are able to target governments, companies, and even individuals. At the end of the day, no one is more or less safe from the dangers of the cybercriminals. Cybercriminals don’t discriminate when picking out their victims since, at the end of the day, they are trying to profit from their attacks and crimes.

The impact of cybercrime

It is obvious with many different types of cybercrimes, there is a devastating influence, which involves a high financial impact. Cybercrimes are committed every single day, against individuals and even high profile companies. All of this cybercrime causes a significant financial impact on economies, which is estimated to be close to $600 billion. There is also a belief that cybercrime is heavily underreported by at least 95%, which could mean that the financial impact is a lot higher than the estimated $600 billion. The importance of protecting financial institutions and their systems is at an all-time high due to the potential damage being so severe.

How to recognize if you’ve been a victim of cybercrime

It’s difficult to recognize sometimes that you have been a victim of a cybercrime; however, some of the cybercriminals do leave clear signs of crimes behind. Some examples of these are:

  • Malware – your computer starts operating slower, and you would be receiving several error messages.
  • Crypto-jacking – your computer operates slower, and your electricity bill increases.
  • Identity theft – you’ll find suspicious charges on your credit card or other bank accounts.

Overall, any sudden decrease in performance from your electronic device is an indication that you have been potentially a victim of a cybercrime. If you believe that you may have been a victim, the best course of action is to report cybercrime to an organization that deals with cybercrime.

How to prevent cybercrime

definitions of cyber crimes

Probably the most important question you may have right now is how to protect yourself against cybercrime after learning about their threats. Here are some of the best ways to protect yourself.

Update your software and operating system (OS)

Having a constantly updated OS and software guarantees that your computer is at less risk of being a victim of cybercrime since you are benefiting from the latest safeguard patches that are updated to shield your system.

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Download and keep your antivirus software updated

Using any type of antivirus software system is one of the best ways to protect yourself from any cyber-attacks.

Antivirus programs scan, detect, and then delete the viruses or any other threats that may have entered your system but haven’t become an obvious problem yet.

The most important part is to keep it updated as the newest updates always bring more protection to your computer.

Use secure passwords

In order to avoid having your accounts hacked, for example, bank accounts, it is always important to have a highly strong and secure password. Whenever your password includes randomly generated characters, it’s a lot harder for the hackers to crack them.

Never open an attachment from a spam email

This probably is one of the oldest and most popular tricks that hackers use to infect their target’s computer. However, it is well known at this point to not open any attachments that you receive in your spam.

Don’t open links from untrusted sources

This extends the previous remark to not opening links from emails; however, it’s also important to point out not to open links from unfamiliar or shady websites or messages that you may receive on your smartphone. Avoiding any kind of unknown links is one of the best ways to stay protected online.

Don’t give out individual data unless it’s secure

It’s crucial to never share your personal data with unfamiliar people. Additionally, even if you are speaking to somebody you already know, it’s still important to not share individual information over a call or email unless you are aware that the link is secure or that your email is not compromised.

Make a direct connection with companies regarding doubtful appeals

If you are requested for personal data by a representative of an organization who has called you, in order to make sure that it is the company actually calling you, hang up and call them right back on the phone number mentioned on their official website. This is important in order to ensure that you are not speaking with a scammer. To be more secure in this situation, it’s best to use a different number, since some professional cybercriminals are able to fully take control of the line and reroute your calls.

Be careful of which websites you visit

Related to what was previously explained regarding opening suspicious links, the same goes for opening suspicious URLs. Some of the URLs that cybercriminals use have mistakes in them that can usually go unnoticed and disguise themselves as website links from high profile companies or government websites.

Always check your bank statements

One of the best ways to notice if you have been a victim of cybercrime is to regularly check your statements. If you have strange transactions from your account, always contact your bank, and in those cases, the bank is able to investigate whether those transactions were fraudulent.