Most, but not all, cybercrime is committed by cybercriminals or hackers
who want to make money. Cybercrime is carried out by individuals or organizations.
What is Cybercrime?
When we hear the word “cybercriminal” or “hacker” what image comes to our mind? Is it a sketchy guy, perhaps wearing a dark hoodie, camped out in a dank basement somewhere, typing away furiously?
While that image is in the public consciousness thanks to movies and TV, the real picture of a cybercriminal is much different: cybercrime is incredibly organized and professionalized.
Cybercriminals buy and sell malware online (generally on the dark web) while also trading in services that test how robust a virus is, business intelligence dashboards to track malware deployment, and tech support (that’s right-crooks can contact a criminal helpline to troubleshoot their illegal hacking server or other malfeasance!).
The professionalization and proliferation of cybercrime add up to countless costs in damages every year, impacting individuals, businesses, and even governments. Experts estimate that cybercrime damages will reach $6 trillion annually by 2021, making it one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises.
As the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves and smart devices become more popular, cybercriminals benefit from a much broader attack surface-increased opportunities to penetrate security measures, gain unauthorized access, and commit crimes.
Common examples of Cybercrime.
As mentioned, cybercriminals range from individuals to criminal organizations to state-sponsored actors. Just as the type of criminal varies, so do their crimes and the methods they use to break the law.
From a single hacker who managed to hack into the US stock market to North Korean state-sponsored groups that propagated ransomware on a massive scale, there are a staggering amount of cybercriminals active every day. Moreover, expert skills are no longer required to become a cybercrook.
Computer viruses are the granddaddy of cybercrime; probably the first kind of it we became aware of. Viruses infect computer systems, destroying files, messing with the overall functionalily, and self-replicating to jump to other devices and systems.
Viruses are actually a form of malware, which encompasses all kinds of malicious software: any code or programs written and distributed to do damage, steal data, make money for their owner, and generally ruin our day. This includes ransomware, which can lock up our files until we pay a ransom to decrypt them, and adware, which spams with ads.
Identity theft and other fraud:
While identity theft is not exclusively a cybercrime, these days it’s much more likely to happen through technology. In fact, identity fraud happens every two seconds in America today.
If a hacker wants to commit identity theft or credit card fraud, they first need to access enough of their victim’s personal data to fuel the crime.
Cybercrooks use “bait” in the form of fraudulent messages to lure victims to fake sites where they unwittingly enter personal information like usernames, passwords, or bank details.
Taking it one step deeper than phishing, pharming uses malware to reroute unsuspecting internet surfers to fake versions of websites, where they unknowingly enter their personal details.
This type of malware (or to be more specific spyware) secretly logs everything we type, capturing our account information and other personal details.
If we’re connected to an unsecured, unencrypted public Wi-Fi network, hackers can steal our data by “sniffing” our internet traffic with special tools (unless we have a VPN, of course).
While hackers have many ways to steal personal data, there are also some good ways we can prevent identity theft. Avoid accessing our personal accounts (especially online banking) on public Wi-Fi, and consider setting up a monitoring service to make sure our online accounts haven’t been breached.
Cyberbullying refers to all kinds of online harassment, including stalking, sexual harassment, doxing (exposing someone’s personal information, like their physical address, online without their consent), and framing (breaking into someone’s social media and making fake posts on their behalf).
Cyber extortion is just what it sounds like- a digital version of the nightmare that is extortion. One of the most common forms is ransomware when hackers infect our computer with malware that encrypts all our files until we pay them a ransom to unlock them. Cyberextortion can also refer to blackmailing victims using their personal info, photos, and video; or threatening businesses using methods like botnet-driven DDOS attacks.
No matter the type of cybercrime, we can help protect ourselves by installing a strong antivirus program like Avast Free Antivirus. Avast will block malicious links, suspicious websites, harmful downloads, and various other threats. Cybercriminals don’t like to work too hard-if they can’t access our machine or personal data, they’re likely to move on to the next (easier) victim. So give ourselves a strong layer of defense and fight back against cybercrooks.
Where does cybercrime come from?
Although the internet is only about 30 years old, experts consider the 1834 hack the first cybercrime in history. Two thieves were able to infiltrate the French Telegraph System and gain access to financial markets, committing data theft.
Other early cybercrimes, beginning in the late 1800s and first half of the 20th century, saw hackers focus on the telephone systems, just two years after phones were invented, teenage boys broke into Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone company and caused mischief by misdirecting calls. Phone hacking, or phreaking, later became popular in the 1960s to 1980s.
Email: Though social media may be one of the most popular ways to use the internet these days, email is still the most prevalent delivery method for cybercrime. Not only that, email fraud is the second-costliest cybercrime, according to the FBI. Email fraud encompasses phishing attempts, malware in the form of sketchy attachments or links, as well as some forms of digital extortion, ransomware, and exploit kits.
The dark web: The deep web refers to all parts of the internet (sites, e-shops, forums, etc.) that are not accessible by a regular search engine like Google or Bing. A subset of the deep web is the dark web, or darknet, which requires a special browser, such as Tor, to access it. Although the dark web is not itself illegal, the anonymity it affords makes it a hotbed for criminal activity.
On the dark web, cybercriminals can exchange the most dangerous and odious commodities our society has to offer: malware, drugs, weapons, child pornography, and even contract killing. The dark web is also where information, like stolen passwords or credit card numbers, gets bought and sold. That’s why if we’re a victim of a data breach, it can sometimes take a few days (or even longer) until someone the stolen data and tries to access our account.
Who’s most at risk?
As mentioned cybercriminals can target individuals, businesses, and governments. And at the risk of sounding alarmist, none of those groups are any more or less safe from threats than the others. Cyber fraudsters are pretty indiscriminate when it comes to choosing their victims. Luckily, we have some proven strategies for preventing cybercrime.
How to recognize if we’ve been a victim of cybercrime?
While it can sometimes be hard to recognize if we’ve been the victim of a cybercrime, some crimes do leave clear signs:
Malware infection: our machine might start running slowly and sending us various error messages.
Phishing or pharming attack: We’ll find suspicious charges on our credit card or other compromised accounts.
Keylogger: We may see strange icons or our messages might start adding duplicate text.
Botnet: If our computer becomes involved in a botnet, it may be hard to recognize at all.
Crypto jacking: We’ll see increased electric bills.
Broadly speaking, sudden decreases in performance or strange behavior from our PC, tablet, or mobile indicates that we may have been the target of a cybercrime.
If we think we’ve been a victim, we should definitely take the time to report cybercrime. If we’re in the US, the government has some resources that can help us: they suggest contacting the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Department of Justice, depending on the nature of the crime. If our identity was stolen, we should especially make sure to report the identity theft, including using the resources on IdentityTheft.gov.
If we’re outside the US, look for similar organizations in our country to report cybercrime.
How cyber crime works?
Cybercriminals may infect computers with viruses and malware to damage devices or stop them from working. They may also use malware to delete or steal data. Cybercrime that uses computers to commit other crimes may involve using computers or networks to spread malware, illegal information, or illegal images.
What are the apps related to cybercrime?
Mobile apps: New frontier for cybercrime
- Click Fraudster
- Malicious Downloader
- Spying Tools
- Mobile devices are abused via clicking online ads without users’ knowledge(pay-per-click).
- Downloads other malicious files and apps
- Tracks user’s location via monitoring GPS data and sends this to a third party.
How to protect people from cybercrime?
Here are some ways to protect people from cyber crime:
- Make sure your PC is secure. Keep up with system and software security updates.
- If someone calls you (it might even be on behalf of your bank) and asks you to provide personal data, do not take any action. Your bank will ask you to provide this information over the phone.
- Never send your username, password, PIN, account information. No bank will ever request for you to send personal information over e-mail.
- Be cautious where you log into your bank. Never use public Wi-Fi for banking.
- Visit the bank by typing the address.
- Check your account regularly.
- Put your digital sign only for orders you have started yourself.
How to protect yourself.
- Never click on links or open messages, from people you don’t know, and double-check those from people you know.
- Stick to trusted and secure websites and use unique passwords for every site you visit.
- Make sure your passwords are complex i.e. incorporate text, numbers, and special characters.
- Protect all your devices with the latest software from a reputable security solutions provider.
How to prevent cybercrime?
The best way to protect ourselves against cybercrime is to exercise sensible digital habits. Here are some common-sense browsing habits that will help us defend ourselves daily:
- Keep your software updated
- Enable your system firewall
- Use antivirus and anti-malware software
- Use different/strong passwords
- Activate your email’s anti-spam blocking feature
- Use 2FA for all your online services
- Encrypt your local hard disk
- Shop only from secure and well-known websites
- Use a WHOIS private service
- Use a private- secured DNS server
- Use a VPN
- Encrypt your email
- Monitor your children’s online activities.
Though not all people are victims of cybercrimes, they are still at risk. Crimes done behind the computer are the 21st century’s problem. With technology increasing, criminals don’t have to rob banks, nor do they have to be outside in order to commit any crime.
So, Stay tuned with us for more updates and leaks about the IT industries. Thank you!