The internet has brought the world plenty of benefits never before experienced. Unfortunately, it isn’t all good. The internet’s bane— cyber crime —dampens all that we love about it.
In 2019 alone, the world has suffered more than $2 billion in losses due to cybercrimes. The terms ransomware attacks, data breaches, identity theft, and many others can be overwhelming. The threat from cybercrime is real, but there is hope as cyber crime-fighting capabilities are developing across the globe.
In the meantime, let’s get to know what cybercrime is and how we can prevent it from causing damage to our businesses.
What is Cyber Crime?
Britannica defines cybercrime as the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities, or violating privacy.
Simply put, cybercrime is any illegal activity committed using technology. Cybercriminals, whether individuals or organizations, target internet users of all shapes and sizes. The ways and means may differ, but the bottom line is, they do it to make money.
In this age where almost everyone relies on the internet for knowledge, entertainment, and communication, cybercrime has taken the spotlight. We can find collective world efforts in fighting against it, but we still have to do our part.
The Different Types of Cybercrimes
From email phishing to terrorism, cybercrime encompasses a wide range of activities. It pays to know what is most common to help us protect ourselves. Here are the different types of cybercrimes we can be vulnerable to:
This is the cybercrime that refers to the use of someone else’s personal information for fraudulent gains. In 2019, identity theft was reported to make up 20.33% of the reported 3.2 million fraud cases. This data makes identity theft the most common type of cybercrime.
Cybercriminals use several ways to gain access to a victim’s personal data. They use the information to commit fraud, such as credit card hacking or steal money from bank accounts.
Email and Internet Fraud
Most of us are familiar with emails coming from princes or foreigners who inherited large sums of money. They want to use you to get access to that money and lure you into giving out your personal and bank details. Once a victim falls for the scheme, almost always, the money stolen is never recovered.
This scam, as the name suggests, is carried out via emails. The fraudsters use sophisticated tools that crawl the web to harvest email addresses.
Malware and Ransomware Attacks
When your computer system gets infected with a virus, this is what’s known as a malware or ransomware attack. Its damage may include deletion of files, destroying functionality, or worse, extortion of money.
These viruses and malicious software are encoded or programmed to damage or steal data. Scammers also use them to lock your files to make you pay a ransom before they decrypt them.
Cybercrime happens on a variety of devices: desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and even ATMs. Cybercriminals have developed ways to intercept a person’s ATM account details. They found ways to get data such as the PIN to withdraw funds from their victims, also known as “skimming.”
Law enforcers are taking steps to minimize these cybercrimes. The hackers, however, have turned their attention elsewhere. They now focus on doing their dirty deeds on non-bank ATMs. Mobile payments and online shopping are where they hit it big.
How to Protect Yourself from Cybercrimes
Now that we’ve learned the most common cybercrimes we can fall victim to, we need to know how we can protect ourselves. Here are a few:
Use Strong Passwords
Never ever use passwords that are easy to guess, such as 11111 or ABC111. Choose passwords that are strong and aren’t easy to hack. Do not make a record of them and if you want to use a password manager, make sure it’s from a reputable company.
Use an Antivirus Software
Protect your computer system from malicious software and attacks by installing antivirus software. These can scan and identify threats before they begin to cause damage to your computer. In addition, always make sure that your software is updated as viruses evolve and new ones crop up.
Don’t Give Out Personal Information
Unless you’re on a secure platform, don’t give out personal and financial information to anyone. Even social media has become a haven for scammers. As much as possible, speak directly to the person you think you’re dealing with, preferably through the phone.
Ignore Spam Emails
Spam emails that ask you to click on certain links are almost always the work of a scammer. Never click on them and instead, ignore and delete them immediately. No one in their right minds is willing to give millions of dollars to people they don’t know.
Also, if an email is in English, check for spelling and grammar. Most likely, a phishing email is one that has incorrectly spelled words and poor grammar. A reputable company won’t make the mistake of sending you an email with these errors.
Be Mindful of the Websites You Visit
Avoid visiting websites that seem suspicious. Spammy URLs or unfamiliar links may be the telltale signs of this. If unsure, call them first before doing any transaction. If it is legitimate, there should be contact info listed on the site. Better yet, stay only on trusted eCommerce sites when shopping or sending payments.
Never Open Attachments
One of the prevalent ways that scammers send viruses to your computer is through email attachments. This is how they get your system infected and start fraudulent activities. If you don’t know who the sender is, never click on the attachments.
Always Update Your Operating System
To ensure that the latest security updates protect you, always keep your operating system up to date. Also, make sure that the software on your device is updated. This will give you the benefit of security measures that are current with the latest in virus protection.
Monitor Your Bank Statements
This may be a last-ditch effort if you think you have become a victim of cybercrime. Keep an eye on your bank statements and see if there are unrecognized transactions or activities. This way, you can try stopping or reporting it as early as possible.