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Introduction

The word ‘cybercrime’ conjures images of a shady man covered in a hoodie working furtively in a basement. But, that is not the reality. Cybercrime, in reality, is much different and a very well-planned, organized, and professional crime. ‘What is cybercrime?’, short note examples would include – buying and selling illegal software and malware, hacking of servers, and corrupting systems that could cost billions to individuals, organizations, and governments.

In a nutshell, cybercrime refers to any crime carried out using a computer or an electronic device, especially via the Internet. As the internet has opened a plethora of opportunities and possibilities to consume and access information and connect, the impact of cybercrime has penetrated deeply, with cybercriminals gaining from a broader surface to attack.

In this article we are going to look at:

  1. What is Cybercrime?
  2. Common Examples of Cybercrime
  3. Origin or History of Cybercrime?
  4. How to Prevent Cybercrime?

1) What is Cybercrime?

What is meant by cybercrime? What falls under the purview of cybercrime and what constitutes the crime? Cybercrime is a criminal activity that mainly targets or involves using a computer, network associated with a computer or a device that is connected to a network. Cybercrime is not always conducted by individuals or hackers but could be done by organizations too. The main aim of Cybercrime is to damage computers for-profit – personal or political. Cybercrime is a broad term that covers a range of illegal activities conducted via the computer or the internet.

2) Common Examples of Cybercrime

Cybercrime varies with the kind of individuals conducting the crime and their intent. A single person can hack the US Stock Market, while an organization could hack insider information from a government- secured databases. There are a staggering number of crimes that can be conducted over the internet. Read on to learn more about what are the effects of cybercrime that are prevalent and the most common types.

Malware

Computer viruses infect computer systems, corrupt files, and mess with the general functioning of a computer. It also replicates itself to corrupt other devices and systems. Viruses are a kind of malware that encompasses malicious software, programs, or codes written to damage or corrupt data, steal it, and make money in the bargain. This also includes ransomware that will need you to pay a ransom to decrypt data that has been locked or adware that will spam you with unnecessary ads.

Phishing

Phishing campaigns are ones where spam mails or any other forms of communication crowd inbox and trick recipients into doing things that will put security at risk. These emails or communications contain infected attachments or links to sites or viruses. They may also ask for confidential information. Spear-phishing is another type where campaigns trick specific targets into putting the individual or organizational security in jeopardy. Spear-phishing campaigns are crafted to look very trustworthy and do not contain any obvious clues to show they are fake.

Identity theft and fraud

To commit this kind of crime, access to personal data is the main fuel. Different kinds of cybercrime help to get access:

  • Phishing: Fraudulent messages and links are used as baits to lure victims to sites where they have to disclose personal information like usernames and, passwords.
  • Pharming: A deeper step, pharming uses malware to redirect users to fake websites where they pass their personal details that are used for malicious activities.
  • Keylogging: Another malware that logs all the key information you type and stores it for cybercriminals to access.
  • Sniffing: If you connect to an unsecured and unencrypted Wifi ( for example, in a public space), hackers can steal data by sniffing through internet traffic with the help of special tools.

Cyber Bullying

It includes all kinds of online harassments like sexual harassment, stalking, doxing which means (exposing personal information with consent), and framing ( hacking into someone’s social media account and creating fake posts).

Crypto Jacking

It is a tool that hackers use to break into a device and use it to mine cryptocurrency without consent or an individual’s knowledge. JavaScript is used by crypto miners to infect a device after a user visits the infected website. The user will incur huge bills and also performance issues and in the bargain inflated profits for cybercriminals.

Cyber Extortion

It is exactly what it sounds – a digitalized version of extorting money. Ransomware is one of the most common ways to encrypt files and then extort money to unlock them. Blackmailing victims by revealing personal information, photographs, videos, and threatening business by DDoS attacks ( bringing down a system or network) are some other ways of cyber extortion.

Cyber Espionage

As mentioned earlier, cybercriminals are state-sponsored groups that penetrate the complicated matrix of networks of countries and renowned organizations to create war, conflict, differences, and other frightening things in the world. 

3) Origin or History of Cybercrime?

Where does cybercrime come from or where can one trace the origin? The internet may be just 30 years old, but two thieves in 1834 hacked the French Telegraph system and committed data fraud. Between the  1800’s-2000, telephone hacking was on the rise. In the 1940s the first ethical hack was done in the Nazi data registry to thwart their attempts and track Jews. With the proliferation of the Internet, email, and e-commerce, cybercrime reached new heights, with cybercriminals finding new ways to trick people. With the advent of electronic devices, new avenues opened to fraudsters and crooks.

As a regular user of the internet, computers, and mobile devices, you are vulnerable to cyberattacks of every kind. Emails are the most common delivery method for cybercrime. Sites, forums, social media sites, e-shops are other ways of accessing information without using search engines. Over these platforms, a lot of information is exchanged which can be accessed by cybercriminals. Unsafe websites and social media are all vulnerable platforms for cyberattacks and any other form of cybercrimes.

Laws Governing Cybercrime

Every country has its own set of rules, regulations, and standards for cybercrime. What is the punishment for cybercrime?  It will depend on the severity of the crime and the kind of damage involved.? Cybercrimes in most countries amount to felony and the punishment is severe for those found guilty. Governments, governing bodies, and authorities are constantly challenged to revisit the laws as cybercrimes seem to be evolving with the penetration of the internet and other electronic devices in our lives.

Hope you are more aware of what is cybercrime how can you report it.? If you believe that you have been a victim of any cybercrime, then it is important to report it to the relevant authorities with immediate effect. You could file a police complaint and follow the necessary procedures. If you have been a victim of identity theft then it is important to notify the relevant authorities.

4) How to Prevent Cybercrime?

The best way to protect one from cybercrime is to exercise careful and sensible digital habits. A few common habits that will help you stay safe:

  1. Be careful when you open dodgy emails with undefined links or attachments. ( sometimes they may have funny names too!).
  2. Avoid downloading anything from an untrusted or unknown source.
  3. Make sure you are visiting a legitimate website.
  4. Make sure to update your computer with software updates.
  5. Avoid using Wifi in public spaces as they are unsecured and unencrypted. Do not log in to your bank account in a public space, or pay on an eCommerce site.
  6. Make sure you have strong, unique passwords that are a combination of letters, numerals, and symbols.
  7. Boost your router security to guard the network at home.
  8. Always have an anti-virus installed that will throw warnings and protect systems from attacks.

Conclusion

Cybercrime is the bane of the internet. It is important to guard oneself against being a victim of attacks or crimes of any kind over the internet. The above information gives you an insight into the common kind of crimes and tips to safeguard yourself from any malpractices.

In case, you are interested in Cyber Security then browse through our Master Certificate in Cyber Security (Blue Team), a 520 hours long program with preparation for 7 global certifications.

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