I use the internet every day for anything from shopping, managing accounts, and the business to checking my son’s grades. Perhaps you find yourself in the same situation, yet you still can’t help but wonder, “what are the types of cybercrimes?” Continue reading to learn all that I discovered about cybercrimes and what preventions you can take to avoid becoming a victim of one.
Cybercrimes, or computer crimes, are any crime that takes place over the internet. They are becoming increasingly popular. The most common types of cybercrimes are theft, hacking, identity theft, stalking, and malicious files or software. While there are many types of cybercrimes, there are also many means to protect yourself and strategies to prevent them from happening!
The internet, although very useful, can be a dangerous place. Chances are that you have heard stories from a news source about people that have experienced hardships due to cybercrime, or maybe you even know somebody personally that has been affected. Read on to find out more about the types of cybercrimes and perhaps even gain some peace of mind from knowing some steps that you can take to remain safe.
What Is a Cybercrime?
Cybercrime, or computer crime, is a tool that criminals often use to help achieve an illegal end-result. Computers can become a means by which to commit a crime or become the target itself. Cybercrime has become more widespread due to computers and the internet becoming the main hubs for extensive personal and business information. Most cybercrimes are an attack on that information itself. These days it is scarce to find any individual, let alone a company, who does not rely on the internet in one way or another. Because of this, the internet can serve as an endless market of opportunity for criminals.
Cybercrime can be very difficult for law enforcement to deal with initially because the criminal is anonymous and can access a system or network from any location globally. These circumstances frequently make it hard for officials to find and catch the offender and generally require multiple international agencies’ cooperation. Coordinating these efforts can be a lengthy and challenging task.
What Are the Types of Cybercrimes?
For the most part, technology has made our lives easier and changed them for the better. However, while we view the internet as a source of endless opportunity, many criminals share the same perspective. There are many cybercrime categories, but I will share some of the most common kinds that I found! Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Phishing is one of the most common types of cybercrime, and it operates as a trap, or perhaps a fishing pole (imagine that!). The bait lures in unexpecting victims, and then the hunter (or fisherman) pounces to take what it desires. The types of bait commonly used in cybercrime are clicking on a link or downloading files. You know those emails or texts you get that are very similar to the legit company’s contacts, but you can tell it’s a bit off or the logo seems weird? The ones where they claim that you need to update your social security or credit card information? Yes, my friend, that is phishing.
Identity Theft and Credit Card Fraud
Identity theft and credit card fraud are two other prevalent forms of cybercrime. Identity theft affects approximately twelve billion individuals per year, and that number is continuously on the rise. Both identity theft and credit card fraud often use online account information with the intent to make a personal or financial gain. Criminals could find ways to use the information we share on social media against us, yet just like most of the world’s population, we throw it all out in the open for everyone to see. Another popular way for criminals to obtain credit card information is by using a skimmer. This device will automatically steal any card information when held close to a purse or wallet using radio waves or Radio Frequency Identification. When identity theft occurs, sometimes it is only a case of someone using your information to create fake accounts or email to send phishing messages. Still, more often than you would think, government benefits are wiped out, credit cards maxed, bank accounts wiped clean, credit ruined, and lives become turned upside down.
Computer viruses aid criminals in breaking into systems and stealing data such as passwords or account numbers. Typically viruses are designed to destroy and spread throughout devices as well as the internet.
Hacking is when a system or network gets violated or “broken into.” The purpose of this violation of privacy is to gain access to useful information. The most common targets are government agencies or larger corporations. A recent well-known case happened to Capital One when a hacker named Paige Thompson breached the system and gained access to more than 100 million accounts with individual information, including social security numbers, bank accounts, credit information, and addresses.
Grooming is when people use social media avenues to gain and grow trust to establish a future sexual relationship with minors, whether it be with the intentions of abuse, exploitation, or trafficking. Unfortunately, this is quite common, and many kids become victims before realizing what is happening. In 2019 there were an estimated 18,700 suspected child exploitation/grooming cases worldwide. These are just the ones we know about. Does this make your stomach turn as much as it does mine?
Scamming is a term we likely know all too well as it is on the rise and takes place everywhere, including in cyberspace. A way that scams can present themselves as cybercrime is in scenarios where the perpetrators offer services that they ultimately never provide after receiving payment or when a so-called expert diagnoses an issue that doesn’t exist.
Cyberbullying is not just cruel harassment or bullying on social media; it is a crime. Cyberbullying is prosecuted in court under civil OR criminal law, depending on the situation. Cyberbullying is becoming more popular among teenagers and can take the form of hateful speech, threats, rumors, sexual remarks, sharing of personal information, inappropriate pictures, and repeated attempts to defame, hurt, or scare a person. Cyberbullying of any form can be detrimental to a person and can have lasting effects on the victim, even leading to tragic suicide in many past cases.
What Are Some Things You Can Do to Prevent Cybercrimes?
Most of us aren’t about to cut off all ties with the internet because there are risks involved or the possibility of being targeted in some sort of cybercrime. However, there are still some precautions that you can take to help protect you and those you care about from becoming victims.
- Raise awareness of the dangers of grooming. Talk about it with kids, family, students, and friends! Knowledge is power!
- Education is vital, especially when it comes to protecting children from grooming and/or sexual predators. While not necessarily a comfortable subject to discuss, I think we can all agree that it is much better than the alternative.
- Maintain an updated computer software system. When a computer is purchased, a virus protection program is customarily included as part of the deal and requires activation. There are many additional programs available that can be purchased separately. These serve to prevent and detect any viruses. If anything suspicious is recognized, the software will work to disarm and delete the problem. The criminals behind cybercrimes are always learning loopholes, upgrading and evolving the tools they use, so updating the latest types of protection is a must.
- Use common sense when entering or sharing personal information, opening emails from unknown senders, or clicking on unfamiliar links. Keep in mind that websites in which you enter financial information should have an “s” after http, which means “secure” (for example, https://www.amazon.com and not http://www.amazon.com). Another sign of a secure connection is a small lock symbol in the bottom corner (usually on the right side) of your screen.
- Choose a unique, strong password and security questions for protection. A password should include a mixture of letters and numbers. Do not allow yourself to do what I did (up until researching this topic), and use the same simple password for every single account that you possess! I know, we just love complicating things! But seriously, protect your information and don’t allow yourself to become an easy target.
- Monitor your credit and financial statements regularly! Watching and tracking activity within your accounts will allow you to see if anything suspicious takes place. Many reporting or monitoring services can immediately alert you as soon as any unusual action is suspected, and you can generally customize them to suit your specific security needs.
Conclusion – Types of Cybercrimes
Many types of cybercrime have sadly affected billions of people worldwide. Some of these include identity theft, hacking, grooming, and scamming.
While these certainly happen, it is still okay to enjoy having a computer or access to the internet. It is okay to rely on these things for business or professional reasons as well.
Whatever the case may be, staying educated and aware are some of the best defenses against cybercrimes. While there is no need to live in a constant state of fear, it is always a protection to remain cautious, aware, and ready to take action.
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A creative writer from Arkansas with personal experience in many different career paths, including criminology and medical science. I always find my way back to writing as it is what I truly enjoy and have a passion for. I love having a voice and helping give a voice to others who may not be so fortunate. Quote that best describes me “she has that look of eyes that see things much too far, and of thoughts that wander off the edge of the world”.