Cybercrime Attacks – Meaning, Forms, Types, Reasons And 10 Ways To Protect Yourself
Table of Contents
Cybercrime involves using a computer to carry out illegal activities such as identity theft, fraud, trafficking of child pornography and intellectual property, or invasion of privacy. With the computer being an integral part of commerce, entertainment, and government, cybercrime has become common, especially through the internet.
The majority of cybercrime targets personal, corporate, or government information. Although the attacks are not physical, they occur in the virtual space, the collection of information that defines individuals and organizations on the internet.
Our virtual identities are crucial to our daily lives in today’s digital era. We are represented by numbers and identifiers stored in various computer databases owned by governments and corporations.
Emerging technologies provide new avenues for criminal activities, but not many new crime categories emerge from them. Criminals existed before the digital era. The distinction between conventional and cyber criminals is that the latter requires technology tools such as computers and other devices to conduct their fraudulent activities.
Cybercrime takes on diverse forms, including hacking, identity theft, malware, ransomware, denial of service, and child grooming.
Cybersecurity breach, also called hacking, refers to the act of trying to take advantage of a computer system or a private network within a computer without permission. It involves gaining unauthorized access to or control over computer network security systems to carry out some unlawful activity.
Identity theft is a criminal activity where an individual obtains personal or financial information without the owner’s consent and uses it for fraudulent purposes such as unauthorized purchases or transactions.
Malware is a term coined from malicious software that pertains to any invasive software created by cybercriminals to cause damage or exploit any programmable device or network.
A few malware examples include worms, Trojan viruses, ransomware, adware, and spyware. In recent times, malware attacks have resulted in the massive exfiltration of data.
Ransomware is malware that restricts users from accessing their computer system or files by either locking their screen or encrypting them. The cybercriminals behind the attack then demand payment from the users in exchange for decrypting the files or unlocking the system.
Denial Of Service
A Denial of Service (DoS) attack is a cyber attack that aims to render a network, website, or service inoperable by inundating the targeted machine with a barrage of requests that exceed its processing capacity, thereby preventing legitimate traffic from being processed.
The goal of a DoS attack is to disrupt normal operations and prevent users from accessing the targeted resource.
In cybercrime, child grooming refers to the process by which an adult establishes a relationship with a child via the internet, aiming to exploit them sexually.
This involves the adult building an emotional bond with the child to eventually engage in sexual abuse, exploitation, or even trafficking. The end objective for these criminals is to commit sexual crimes against minors.
Knowing about the different types of cybercrime is crucial, especially since it has become widespread among young people, particularly teenagers, who are heavily involved in it to earn money.
Types Of Cybercrime
These categories are prevalent and have been encountered by most internet users.
Cyberbullying is identified as the deliberate and repetitive infliction of harm towards a targeted individual or group to cause fear, anger, or humiliation.
Typically, cyberbullying involves electronic communication methods and is carried out over an extended period, making it distinct from typical online conflicts between individuals of similar power.
The effects of cyberbullying can be far-reaching, as the content used to harass the victim can be easily shared and can remain accessible long after the initial incident. Awareness of cyberbullying and taking necessary measures to prevent it is crucial.
Cyberstalking is a form of online harassment involving using social media, search engines, and other internet resources to intimidate and cause fear to others by repeatedly threatening and harassing them. This type of cyberbullying is considered particularly dangerous as it often involves a real threat to the victim’s safety.
Cyberstalkers may send multiple messages and encourage others to do the same, either by explicitly asking them to contact the victim or by impersonating the victim and requesting others to reach out.
An internet troll deliberately makes offensive, impolite, or provocative remarks online to provoke strong emotional responses from others. Trolls and cyberbullies do not always share the same objectives.
While some trolls engage in cyberbullying, others may use relatively harmless pranks. A troll may be disruptive for their own entertainment or because they are truly argumentative. Trolling can involve insults, fake news, or, in this scenario, terrorist threats.
Phishing refers to a form of social engineering attack that involves the transmission of fraudulent messages, such as emails, instant notifications, or text messages, that appear to originate from a reliable source.
The perpetrator usually assumes the identity of a person or entity that the victim trusts, creating a sense of urgency that causes the victim to act impulsively. The attacker aims to deceive people into divulging sensitive information using deceptive emails or websites, such as passwords or credit card numbers.
Digital identity theft through social media impersonation is a type of cybercrime where the perpetrator uses stolen personal information such as name, photo, and location to create a fake profile on a social media platform. The objective is to deceive the victim’s contacts into believing the fake profile belongs to someone they know and trust.
Impersonation can involve pretending to be the victim or someone else. When the impersonator poses as the victim, they may engage in activities that can harm the victim’s reputation, such as hacking into their Twitter account and posting damaging tweets.
Reasons For Cybercrime
The various forms of cybercrime are now apparent and well-defined. Although there is no valid excuse for attempting to extort others, there are several explanations for why individuals engage in internet-related criminal activities, which will be elaborated on below.
1. Making Money
Making money is hackers’ main driving force, and they can achieve this goal in multiple ways. They may gain unauthorized access to a bank account, steal passwords to financial websites and move funds to their own accounts, use complex spear phishing methods to trick employees into transferring money or launch a ransomware attack on an organization.
While there are other ways of being financially defrauded, the majority of cybercriminals are primarily motivated by the desire to earn a profit.
Some hackers are driven by the satisfaction of successfully infiltrating a significant system, whether working alone or in groups. Recognition on some level is often desired. Additionally, cybercriminals tend to be naturally competitive and relish the challenges associated with their actions, constantly pushing each other to execute more sophisticated hacks.
3. Insider Threats
People who have access to crucial information or systems have the potential to misuse that access, which can be harmful to their organization. This type of threat can originate from internal employees, vendors, contractors, or partners, and it is considered to be one of the most significant cybersecurity risks for organizations.
However, as stated in a report on Insider Threats by Crowd Research Partners, not all insider threats are intentional. More than half (51%) of them result from carelessness, negligence, or compromised credentials, but the potential consequences can be significant even in such unintentional cases.
Certain cybercriminal groups employ their hacking abilities to target big organizations, often driven by a cause like raising awareness of human rights issues or exposing the vulnerabilities of a corporation’s system. Alternatively, they may confront groups whose beliefs don’t match their own.
These groups may steal information and assert that they are exercising their right to free speech. However, typically, they will use a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to flood a website with excessive traffic and render it inoperable.
5. State Actors
State-sponsored hackers receive support and financing from their nation-states and carry out cybercrimes to advance their nation’s objectives. Typically, they focus on pilfering information, such as intellectual property, personally identifiable information, and funds to facilitate or promote espionage and other such activities.
Nevertheless, some state-sponsored actors may execute destructive cyberattacks and assert that their cyber-espionage actions are justified state-sanctioned actions.
6. Corporate Espionage
This type of cyber assault is utilized to gain an edge over rival organisations. Corporate espionage is carried out for commercial or financial reasons and involves obtaining property such as tactics, sites, customer data, pricing, sales, research, or strategies. Techniques like theft of trade secrets, bribery, blackmail, or surveillance may also be used.
10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Cybercriminals.
It is crucial to safeguard our mental health against the negative effects that cybercrime can inflict. The impact of financial loss or social harm can easily cause a person to break down. It is important to keep sensitive information confidential to avoid falling prey to cybercrime. Below are some methods to help prevent becoming a victim of cybercrime.
1. Use Internet Security Software
Utilising reliable security software such as Norton 360, Bitdefender, or Kaspersky is advisable. These software packages offer comprehensive protection for your devices, online privacy, and identity, thereby assisting in safeguarding your sensitive financial and personal information when you browse the web.
2. Use Complex passwords
To ensure your security, refrain from using the same passwords across multiple websites, and update your passwords frequently. It is best to create complex passwords by combining at least ten letters, numbers, and symbols. A password management tool can assist you in keeping track of your passwords securely.
3. Always Keep Your Software Updated
Regularly updating your operating systems and internet security software is crucial. Cybercriminals often exploit known vulnerabilities or weaknesses in your software to infiltrate your system. By addressing and patching these vulnerabilities, you can reduce the risk of being targeted by cybercriminals.
4. Utilize Your Social Media Settings
It is advisable to keep your personal and private information secure. Social engineering cybercriminals can often obtain personal information with minimal data points, so limiting the amount of information you share publicly is better.
5. Strengthen Your Home Network
Beginning with a strong encryption password and using a virtual private network (VPN) is recommended. A VPN encrypts all traffic leaving your devices until it reaches its intended destination. Cybercriminals will only access encrypted data if they attempt to hack your communication line. Using a VPN whenever you use a public Wi-Fi network is advisable.
6. Keep Up To Date On Major Security Breaches
If you have done transactions with a merchant or have an account on a website that has experienced a security breach, it is crucial to determine the type of information accessed by hackers and change your password as soon as possible.
7. Take Measures To Help Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
To commit identity theft, an individual fraudulently acquires your personal information for financial gain, often through deception. This can happen when someone tricks you into revealing personal data online or if a thief steals your mail to access confidential information.
Therefore, it’s essential to protect your personal data. A virtual private network (VPN) is useful to safeguard the data you transmit and receive online, particularly when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
8. Be Aware That Identity Theft Can Happen Anywhere
To safeguard your identity while travelling, it’s wise to take certain precautions to prevent criminals from stealing your personal information. For instance, refrain from sharing your travel plans on social media and always use a VPN while accessing the internet through your hotel’s Wi-Fi network.
These measures can help secure your private data while you’re on the road.
9. Talk To Your Kids And Keep An Eye On Them
To safeguard your children against identity theft, it is crucial to be aware of the risks and take appropriate measures. Children are particularly vulnerable to identity theft as their personal information and credit histories are often untarnished. Hence, exercising caution when sharing your child’s information is important.
You can also detect signs of identity theft, such as unauthorized transactions in your child’s name, and teach your child to be cautious with their personal information when using the internet or social media. Being proactive can help prevent your child from falling victim to identity theft.
10. What To Do If You Become A Victim
Suppose you suspect that a cybercriminal has targeted you. In that case, it is crucial to notify the local police and the Federal Trade Commission, even if the crime is minor. Reporting the incident can assist the authorities in their investigations and prevent criminals from victimizing others.
If you believe that your identity has been stolen, there are several measures you can take to protect yourself.
Understanding the driving forces behind hackers is important in safeguarding your company’s IT systems. However, implementing a comprehensive and layered cybersecurity plan can provide additional protection for your organization.
Ensuring the security of your networks, devices, applications, transmissions, privileges, and storage from every angle is crucial, as is providing regular training to your employees on the latest trends and threats in the world of cybercrime, including ransomware and phishing attacks.