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. As we have already noted multiple times 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, it can make your life a living hell in the event that you fall victim to 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 every day using the Internet must get a grounding before it is too late.
To protect yourself against cybercrimes, you must first get to know the popular cybercrimes out there. The Internet is a complex infrastructure where cybercriminals create thousands of scams every week. Nowadays, Internet crimes continue to grow exponentially, as shown in FBI’s annual 2020 Internet Crime Report published by the Bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The 2020 report saw an unprecedented 70% spike in submitted complaints (790 thousand as compared to 467 thousand in 2019) and legions of new schemes centered around the COVID-19 global pandemic. As a result, affected businesses and individuals have incurred losses in excess of $4.2 billion in the United States alone. Moreover, that amount may turn out to be significantly higher should we take all the non-reported crimes into account. According to IBM, the global average data breach cost in 2020 amounted to $3.86 million. However, companies operating in the healthcare industry reported an average loss of $7.13 million for every cybercrime-induced breach. The upward trend shows no signs of slowing down. Researchers at Cybersecurity Ventures expect cyberattack-related losses to surpass $6.0 trillion in 2021 and cybersecurity expenditures to go north of $1.0 trillion in accordance therewith.
Although cyberattacks can be quite complex and multi-faceted, they all share a common purpose - to get a grip on the victims’ private, sensitive, and other valuable data. To do that, the crooks at play deploy different methods — cyberstalking, harassment, invasion of privacy, phishing and even online impostors. If you are wondering what each of these cybercrimes involve, here is our list of the 5 popular cybercrimes every PC user should beware.
The Top 5 Popular Cybercrimes Everyone Should Keep At Bay
- Spoofing and Phishing scams
Phishing is a type of scam where a cybercriminal or hacker lures unsuspecting PC users into revealing sensitive or other personal data — login credentials, credit card numbers, PINs, etc. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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