What is Cybercrime? How to Prevent Cybercrime?
The Cybercrime Definition
Cybercrime can be defined as any criminal activity involving any networked device (computer, smartphone etc) or a network itself. In cybercrime, a computing device is either the object of the crime or is used as the tool to commit the crime.
Thus, by using, or rather misusing, computer technology, cybercriminals would access sensitive personal data of people (card data, login credentials etc), trade secrets of companies, government agencies’ information etc or use the internet for any sort of malicious purposes. For this, they might be using malicious software (malware) and other tools and strategies like social engineering. It’s mostly by exploiting security vulnerabilities that most incidents of cybercrime are executed.
Cybercrime: The different types
The different kinds of cybercrimes include:
Identity theft- When a hacker accesses someone’s personal details and then uses the same to steal a person’s identity or to access his bank account etc, it’s known as identity theft. Hackers also sell/buy identity-related data on the dark web; this might include financial data, health-related data, social security number, address, phone number etc, which could later be used for fraudulent activities.
Credit card fraud- Hackers attack retailers’ systems, POS terminals etc and obtain credit card data (or banking information) of customers. Such credit card data can then be sold in the dark web or could even be used to directly steal money from someone’s account. Credit card fraud is one of the most common forms of cybercrime.
Cyberextortion- A cyberattack incorporated with a demand for money- that’s what cyberextortion is. There are different ways in which cyberextortion is carried out. A typical ransomware strike is also cyberextortion. A hacker blackmailing a user threatening to release a video of the user watching a porn site is another kind of cyberextortion. Hackers also use DDoS attacks to extort money while attempts to extort money threatening to release crucial documents or files (like sensitive data, unreleased episodes of TV series etc) also is an instance of cyberextortion.
Ransomware attacks- Ransomware is the name given to the kind of malware that encrypts all data in a system or network and then puts up a message asking for a ransom for decrypting the data. Ransomware attacks are getting quite common nowadays.
Cyberespionage- A criminal hacking into the network of a government organization or a defense-related network and gaining access to the sensitive and confidential data therein is what constitutes cyberespionage. Those engaged in cyberespionage could even alter or destroy the sensitive data that they access by hacking; they could even use internet-connected devices, like cameras, webcam, IoT devices etc for spying and related activities.
There are some basic things that could help prevent cybercrime to a great extent. Let’s take a look at some of them…
Use security software – Always use whatever security software you need to secure your system/network and your data. It all depends on the nature of data at your disposal and the nature of business/work you do. You should begin by having a good antivirus/antimalware program and then go for endpoint security tools,
Use encryption or VPN – Going for encryption or using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) could help secure your communication and your data. Encryption helps since hackers would be able to intercept only encrypted data even if they hack your communication line. Similarly, it’s best to use a VPN while connecting through a public Wi-Fi network.
Focus on password management – Effective password management helps prevent cybercrime to a great extent. Always have strong passwords, which are ideally a mix of alphabets (upper case and lower case), numbers and special characters. Ensure that the passwords are different for different accounts/services. Make it a policy to change passwords regularly.
Update regularly – Keep your software and your operating system updated. Never forget to update on time, delays could lead to cybercriminals finding vulnerabilities, which they could exploit to carry out attacks.
Have backups – Always keep backups of all the data that you have in your system/network. This applies especially to the critical data at your disposal. Remember to update your backup at regular intervals.
Follow best security practices – It’s always advisable to follow best security practices including being cautious of phishing emails and phishing links, keeping BYOD devices and IoT devices secure, ensuring the physical security of your system/device by locking them when not in use, connecting only safe USB devices etc.
Train/educate yourself, and your people – You must educate and train yourself as regards all aspects of cybersecurity. This applies to your people- your employees, clients connecting to your network, partners etc- if you are part of an organization.
Julia Sowells950 Posts
Julia Sowells has been a technology and security professional. For a decade of experience in technology, she has worked on dozens of large-scale enterprise security projects, and even writing technical articles and has worked as a technical editor for Rural Press Magazine. She now lives and works in New York, where she maintains her own consulting firm with her role as security consultant while continuing to write for Hacker Combat in her limited spare time.