Over the course of the past few years, hackers and cybercrooks armed with sophisticated malware have stolen literally hundreds of millions of dollars from online banking accounts and individuals all over the world. We have said it many times before in recent articles, the days of robbing banks in person are gone and now it all takes place behind a screen of a computer connected to the Internet.
The Internet can be the most useful tool in business, school or every-day life. At the same time, the Internet can make someone's life a living hell in the event that one becomes the next victim of a cybercrime. A large percentage of the world's population that uses computers over the Internet are aware of cybercrime and the consequences that they may face if they succumb to a cybercriminals' trap. Others who have no clue as to the dangers they face everyday using the Internet must be educated before it is too late for them.
To protect yourself against cybercrimes you must first know what type of cybercrimes there are. The internet is a complex infrastructure where cybercriminals create about 57,000 scam websites every week. In 2008, there were about 10 million victims of identity theft in America alone, according to an Agence-France Press report. The easily preventable cybercrimes attack computer users through several different methods such as the use of cyberstalking, harassment, invasion of privacy, phishing and even through being online impostors. If you are wondering what each of these cybercrimes involve, view our list of the 5 popular cybercrimes to easily protect yourself from.
Top 5 Popular Cybercrimes to Effortlessly Protect Your Computer and Data Against its Impact
1. Phishing scams
Phishing is a practice of a cybercriminal or hacker attempting to obtain sensitive or personal information from a computer user. This process is usually accomplished through phishing websites which are designed to mimic a legitimate website in hopes that the unsuspecting computer user will enter several bits of personal information such as their banking passwords, home address or even social security number. To avoid phishing scams, we recommend using a phishing filter feature on your web browser so that it can actively scan websites that you visit to check if they have been identified as a phishing website.
2. Identity Theft scams
Cybercrooks who may have gained access to your credit card or banking account information may use that information to make purchases in your name. Identity theft has been a major issue even before the conception of the Internet but as you may already know, the virtual world has made it much easier for criminals to utilize and steal your identity. One of the easiest and lest expensive things to do to protect your identity is to closely monitor your accounts. If you notice suspicious activity, you should report it to the proper authorities immediately. Be proactive and do not waste time in these situations. Identity theft scams are very prevalent online and may come in the form of a spam email, website or even an online pop-up survey. Phishing is a major contributor to identity theft also.
3. Online Harassment
Harassment online is usually related to your social lifestyle and if you choose to use a popular social network such as Facebook or Twitter. Online harassment can consist of threats sent through email, instant message or through a social network message/post. Usually, it is simple to report these threats to the social network you're being harassed on. Harassment can also be found to result in cyberbullying kids which can have dire consequences as you may have witnessed recently in the media where a 13-year-old kid from Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, named Megan Meier committed suicide from being bullied online. Our suggestion for handling harassment online is to immediately report any activity out of the ordinary before it gets out of hand even if you may know the person on the other end. Often online impostors who harass you online do it to find your 'breaking point' but you should never let it get that far.
Cyberstalkers will go to great lengths to try to monitor a victims online activity. This may include infecting a person's computer with malware that is able to log computer activity. Cyberstalkers are also known to continually harass their potential victims. Cyberstalking cases should also be reported to authorities, just like online harassment cases. Cyberstalkers may contact a victim's colleagues, friends and other online contacts in an effort to slander them or extract personal information from them.
5. Invasion of privacy
The invasion of privacy is basically the act of someone attempting to intrude on a person's personal life. This includes hacking into a person's computer, reading their emails or monitoring online activities. Many of these specific crimes are punishable under the law. If you ever suspect someone invading your privacy, you can simply contact the police and file a report. Local authorities can handle these situations most times without seeking a specific online law enforcement organization.
In any of the above cases, you should always have the proper computer security applications installed and updated on your computer which may include a trustworthy anti-spyware or anti-virus program. Having security software installed and running on your system will ensure that you are protected from known threats that can lead to any of the above situations and help protect you against cybercrimes.
For additional help resources and tips for protecting yourself against cybercrime, you can view our exclusive related posts below.