Cybercrimes – What you need to know

Cyber crimes are claiming more victims than ever before. Symantec estimates that around 143 million Americans were victims of cyber crimes in 2017, almost 8 out of 10 Americans reported that they or someone they knew were a victim to cyber crime. This number is expected to grow, and that is why the FBI is pushing more resources to their cyber crimes divisions to tackle the problem.

What does cyber crime mean?

Cyber crime is defined as any crime where a computer is an object in the offense. Hacking, phishing, malware, or any unauthorized access to a system would fall into these categories. It can range from cybers stacking an individual, stealing login credentials, or some of the darker offenses, like sexual exploitation of children, a visual representation of child abuse. The penalties are harsh, and the US has laws that can prosecute individuals caught for the offense, however, capturing the perpetrators can be difficult, and most cyber criminals are not found.

The most common cyber crimes

There are many ways a computer can be exploited, but the more common occurrences are generally financial data breaches, such as debit card/credit card numbers, the spreading of malware, massive data breaches, compromised passwords, or unauthorized email/social media access. You have likely fallen victim to one or more of these attacks.

Financial data breaches are, and many retailers have failed at times to protect consumer’s privacy. This is evident in the breaches like target or Equifax, where sensitive credit information was leaked. Often times, the data is put for sales on the dark web or illegal sites for purchasing. This means that you may have been a victim and not had your information exploited yet.

Malware is everywhere online and many systems that are not updated fall victim to a virus. Malware can be created to do many things, to include, merely pranking someone or causing chaos by encrypting sensitive data and holding it ransom, otherwise known as ransomware.

Passwords are commonly compromised through social engineering. This can come in the form of phishing attacks. These seemingly legitimate requests for customers to reset passwords through emails can fool a person into giving up their login credentials to a hacker. Once the credentials are harvested, the attacker can break into an email or social media to damage a company or person’s reputation.

How are we fighting back?

Law enforcement, the FBI, and the US government have made combatting cyber crimes a priority for agencies. Efforts are underway to harden infrastructure, combat vulnerabilities, and adopt a more hacker mindset to find weaknesses. With cyber being weaponized and used in cyber warfare, the government can’t turn a blind eye to the challenges any longer. As a user or company, defending your network can start with simple things such as training personnel with awareness training. Technology can be deployed to combat threats before they reach your users. Intrusion detection systems (IDS) can deny access, timely updates and vulnerability management can reduce the risk on a network. A combination of employing technology and processes can be your best defense against these crimes. Criminal cases are taking down hackers, and technology companies have their own cyber crimes divisions that investigate bugs and aid law enforcement in arresting criminals. As technology progresses and becomes more and more critical to our world, we must face these cyber crimes head on and do our part to protect our customers, friends, families, and ourselves.

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