Table of contents
- What is cybercrime?
- Types of cybercrime
- Malware attacks
- Distributed DoS (DDoS) attacks
- Identity theft
- Credit card fraud
- The sale of illegal items
- Software piracy
- Exit scams
- How does cybercrime work?
- Examples of cybercrime
- $10 million US bank heist
- New York Times (NYT) and BBC malvertising
- How to prevent cybercrime
- How to protect yourself from cybercrime
What is cybercrime?
Cybercrime is any illegal activity or offense that is generally committed online with the use of a computer.
It goes by various terms, including:
- Web crime
- Computer crime
- Online crime
- Internet crime
- Digital crime.
Cybercrime targets computers, networks, and networked devices. The motivations for cybercrime vary. Some are committed to financial gain. For example:
- Ransomware attacks
Cybercriminals lock your computer and solicit payment to unlock it, typically in the form of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin.
- Internet fraud
Your files and other personal data on your computer are hot commodities to cyber criminals. Internet fraud includes any fraudulent activity undertaken online to solicit funds from victims. It can be committed via email, chat rooms, and websites.
- Identity fraud
Cybercrime involves stealing someone’s identity (using it illegally, without their permission or knowledge) to commit crimes on the internet or gain control over your possessions.
But the goal of cybercrime isn’t always financial gain. Below are some reasons cybercriminals engage in this type of activity:
- To spread malware
- To spread misinformation or propaganda
- To distribute illegal content (like images and files) or information.
Cybercrime can be committed by highly skilled and experienced hackers and developers. But they can also be committed by organizations and even regular people who are well-versed in that space. Likewise, novices can commit cybercrime. The skill set required depends on the type of cybercrime committed and the complexity thereof.
Cybercrime isn’t new — it existed long before computers were created. However, computers and the internet provided new platforms to commit these crimes. And because of computers and the internet, cybercriminals have no geographical or physical limitations.
Internet crimes can be committed remotely across various jurisdictions globally. However, there are cybercrime hotspots, which are areas that experience the most online fraud.
Online crimes are on the rise. The statistics below provide a snapshot of the state of the latest cybercrime incidents and reports:
- Clario’s Cybercrime Report (2020) revealed that more than a third of Americans had had their data accessed illegally, and victims of data leaks lost an average of $1,231
- According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2021, 847,376 cybercrime-related reports were filed in 2021 — up 7% from the previous year
- Of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network’s more than 5.7 million reports filed in 2021, nearly half (49%) were fraud-related, while identity theft accounted for 25%.
Unfortunately, many digital crimes go unpunished. And few cybercriminals suffer the consequences of their actions. Arden University’s deputy head of the school of computing, Joanne Newton, stated in a Security IT Summit blog post that about 4% to 5% of hackers get caught.
That’s a small fraction of the millions of hackers out there. But this can be attributed to the care taken by cybercriminals to protect their identities and cover their tracks. Below are some of the resources and methods they use to that end:
- A VPN service
- Proxy servers
Anyone can be a victim of a cybercrime. You can be targeted if you have a computer, mobile phone, internet connection, or email address. That’s why you must protect your devices from hackers. Take on a multi-layered approach by using both antivirus software and a good VPN to be safe.
Clario is an anti-spying tool that protects you from being spied on by hackers, cybercriminals, the government, and virtually anyone else who would be motivated to do so. Its Antivirus and VPN tools protect your device in real-time, around the clock, so you can have peace of mind.
Cybercriminals may plant malware or spyware on your device to lurk for your private information so they can make money off it. Clario's Antivirus tool protects your device from viruses and malware that can enable cybercriminals to do that. These include adware and trojans. Clario’s Antivirus protection keeps malware at bay, so you can focus on what’s important.
And it does a better job than you can ever do manually, scanning your device thoroughly to rid it of any lurking virus. But it doesn’t stop there. The tool scans new apps you’ve installed to ensure they don’t bring with them any new threats to your device.
It’s easy to use Clario’s Antivirus protection. Here’s how:
- Download Clario
- Select Device, then tap Start scan in the Antivirus section
- Clario will scan all the files on your device for malware. When it’s done, tap Fix now if any threats are found
- Select the infected apps or files, then tap Uninstall button, then tap the Uninstall again at the bottom of the screen
- Confirm your action by tapping OK.
Clario’s VPN hides your real IP address, allowing you to browse the internet anonymously. With Clario’s safe and reliable VPN, you can connect to a server halfway around the world from the comfort of your own home. This throws hackers off your trail and allows you to use the internet with peace of mind.
Hackers are always looking for vulnerable devices an individuals to spy on, so they can either compromise or steal their data. That’s why using a VPN is a non-negotiable, especially when you’re connected to public Wi-Fi in a restaurant or shared working space.
Follow the steps below to use Clario’s VPN:
- After downloading the Clario app, toggle Browsing protection on
- Tap the Turn on button
- Allow VPN configurations and enter your phone’s passcode
- Clario will enable the VPN and show you the server location chosen, which is the best server location at the time. However, you can choose a different one by tapping the location and choosing a different one from the list.
Types of cybercrime
There are various types of cybercrime. Check them below.
Malware is any malicious software designed or created to harm a computer, network, or server. While malware is often confused with viruses, the two are not the same. A virus is a form of malware, but not all malware is a virus.
Malware is activated when a victim or recipient downloads a file or clicks on a malicious link, which is why it’s important to be careful what links you click on in the texts and emails you receive.
Let Clario Help
Use the Clario Safari extension to tell you which websites are safe to visit and which are not.
What sets malware apart from other malicious software is its motivation. Below are typical motivations for malware attacks:
- To steal personal information
- To control a computer system remotely
- To send spam to a device
- To spy on a restricted network.
There are various types of malware. These include:
Viruses are malicious code which can affect files and programs and are activated when you open an infected file. They spread via infected emails, websites, and flash drives. Viruses can damage hard drives, delete files from your device, and disable system functions.
Computer worms slow down your computer and make it vulnerable to other forms of malware. They multiply and spread themselves across devices connected through a network or internet connection. Any unprotected computer connected to the initial device is then attacked, which is why you must ensure all your devices are protected
Similar to worms, trojan horses expose your device to other forms of malware. They’re quite sly, as they appear to not be harmful. Typically, trojans masquerade as security software that enters your device via infected emails and websites and remain undetected until they’re activated.
Also known as scareware, ransomware cripples your system or devices to force you to pay a ransom. It encrypts data and compromises important personal data, like your medical information and financial records. Ransomware attacks are bold and far-reaching. Government departments, police departments, and large organizations fall victim to ransomware attacks year after year.
As the name suggests, adware is malware that masquerades as real ads. Clicking on adware takes you to malicious websites and websites that pose as legitimate ones (lookalikes). You’ll know you have adware if you keep getting annoying pop-ups and ads while browsing.
Adware collects your data for marketing purposes (you often agree to this unknowingly in an app's End User License Agreement). In some cases, it infects your device with other forms of malware, like spyware, trojans, and worms.
Malvertising is a form of malware that uses authentic ads or ad networks to infect your device, unlike adware. Cybercriminals can infiltrate ad networks to add malicious code to paid ads placed on legitimate websites. Clicking on the infected ad can have the following impacts:
- Take you to a malicious website
- Install unwanted apps and software on your device
- Fileless malware
Fileless malware is different from most malware in that it doesn’t direct victims with files or file systems. Instead, it attacks devices by taking advantage of existing tools in benign programs and systems. For example, spyware is a form of malware
Spyware is a type of malware that is used by cybercriminals to keep tabs on what you do on your computer and online and sends that data to third parties. This data includes:
- Login details
- Account credentials
- Online activity.
In worst-case scenarios, spyware can steal your personal information and intellectual property. It attaches to your device’s operating system, which makes it hard to identify.
Bots or botnets are automated malware that scans the internet for loopholes and security vulnerabilities. Once found, cybercriminals use these loopholes to hack into devices and even control them remotely.
Rootkits allow hackers to hack and control your device remotely. They can enter your device while your antivirus software is disabled and can remain undetected for prolonged periods while tracking your activity. Rootkits are typically spread through malicious attachments and phishing attacks.
This type of malware records whatever you type on your device. As such, keyloggers can obtain your online banking details and other confidential data, which could be costly.
Phishing is a tactic used by hackers and cybercriminals to obtain personal and sensitive information via emails, calls, and texts. The idea is that they “fish” for your information, hence the name. However, the letter ‘f’ is replaced with the letters ‘p’ and ‘h’ like hackers tend to do.
The information that cybercriminals may attempt to get you to hand over includes your:
- Online login information
- Credit card information
- Full name
- Answers to security questions
- Social Security Number (SSN)
- Date of birth
- Bank account details.
For example, you could receive a call from someone posing as a representative from your bank. They would ask you to provide your banking details or bank card details due to some sort of issue that needs to be attended to immediately.
If you ever receive a call, email, or text message of this nature or similar, it’s best to visit that institution in person to be safe. Learn more phishing statistics.
Distributed DoS (DDoS) attacks
A DDoS attack occurs when a hacker attacks an organization’s online operations from different, remote locations. DDoS attacks target network equipment and services, like routers, thereby affecting everyday operations. This is a calculated, multi-layered approach that utilizes multiple resources, making it very dangerous.
Cyberextortion is a form of extortion that is carried out online. A hacker finds their way into an individual or organization’s system and cripples it in some way, and demands money to stop the attack. They threaten to release confidential documents or keep the system locked.
Ransomware is a form of cyberextortion whereby a cybercriminal demands that a ransom be paid, usually in the form of Bitcoin. It’s never guaranteed that they will, in fact, let up once payment is made.
However, usually, when the ransom is paid, the hacker restores all systems back to working order. Cyberespionage and sextortion are types of cyberextortion.
Identity theft is the act of stealing a person’s identity using their personally identifiable information. This includes your SSN and other personal data. Hackers can use malware and other means to obtain your personal information and sell it on the dark web at a price. Buyers can use it to open credit card accounts, online shopping accounts, and more.
Credit card fraud
This occurs when hackers or cybercriminals illegally obtain your credit card information and use it for fraudulent purposes. Typically, cybercriminals hack into retailers’ systems to obtain their customers’ credit card information and sell it on the dark web.
The sale of illegal items
The sale of illicit and prescription drugs and weapons (like guns) is illegal on the internet and on social media platforms. Likewise, the solicitation, production, and distribution (including sales) of child pornography is against the law. Revenge porn is also illegal in many countries.
In some countries and states, some of these items can be sold online if you have a permit. For example, the sale of alcohol is legal in many US states as long as you have a permit. You can also buy guns from a licensed dealer.
Other items that are illegal to sell online in some US states include:
- Exotic animals
- Fruit and veg from out of state
As you can see, not everything available online is okay to buy. Ensure you check the laws and regulations in your state to avoid getting in trouble with the law.
The act of copying and distributing software programs or pirated programs. In other words, bootleg software violates a host of laws, including copyright infringement laws, patent violations, and trademark violations.
These are scams whereby cybercriminals divert virtual currency held in escrow accounts to their own accounts. Essentially, exit scams involve criminals scamming other criminals on the dark web.
How does cybercrime work?
For internet crimes to happen, there needs to be a motive (or motivation) first. In addition to malware and misinformation, revenge is also another motive for some internet crimes. After a motive is established, cybercriminals look for digital data and an opportunity to commit their crimes.
In many cases, cybercrime is multilayered and involves several parties. They don’t happen in silos. For instance, a pedophile can upload child pornography on an illegal site on the dark web. Other pedophiles can then purchase that content on those websites.
In this case, at least three parties are committing digital crimes (in this case, child pornography). These parties include:
- The person who produced and uploaded child pornography
- The marketplace (website) where it is uploaded and sold
- The person or people who purchase the content.
Hackers and cybercriminals typically use fake identities or pseudonyms to carry out their crimes. In fact, it’s common for hackers to go by a different name on the dark web to remain anonymous and untraceable.
They use malware and other software to commit their crimes and protect their identities. However, phishing and social engineering play huge roles, too. Cybercriminals manipulate their victims and build trust with them to get their way.
That’s why cybersecurity is so important. Cybersecurity is the protection of networks, electronic data, and the devices and applications that store that data from theft and damage. It is becoming increasingly important due to the damage that hackers and cybercriminals can cause to an organization’s infrastructure and individuals’ lives.
The global cost of data breaches is on the rise. And everyone must protect their personal information from cybercrime in their own way. After all, you take every measure possible to protect the valuables in your home. Why not do the same with your valuable personal data?
Examples of cybercrime
There have been too many cybercrime incidents to count over the years, but some are hard to forget.
In 1994, the FBI was alerted to a string of virtual bank heists targeting a US bank, beginning in July. The operation was carried out by a group of hackers spread out across the world and led by a computer programmer based in Russia.
By October of that year, the online bandits had stolen more than $10 million in 40 installments of $400,00 at a time. They achieved this by targeting the bank's telecommunications network and exploiting credentials like user IDs and passwords.
The cash management system that was targeted allowed corporate clients to move money to other banks across the pond, which the hackers successfully intercepted for months. Although late, the FBI eventually stopped this cybercrime.
One of the most notable cybercrime incidents is a malvertising attack that targeted readers of the NYT, BBC, AOL, and NFL websites in March 2016. Cybercriminals infected these organizations’ websites with ransomware in the form of adware and demanded payment in the form of bitcoin to unlock computers.
Hackers gained access through several vulnerabilities — one of them being a flaw in Microsoft’s Silverlight. It delivered ransomware to users of the targeted websites via ad networks. This was a large-scale attack, given that the websites have billions of users altogether.
How to prevent cybercrime
Preventing cybercrime completely is impossible. However, you can take some measures to protect yourself from cybercrime. Here’s what you can do:
- Use two-factor authentication (2FA) for all your online accounts
- Never give your personal or banking information over the phone or via text or email. Verify requests at the institution instead. For example, go to your nearest bank branch or retail store
- Use anti-spying software like the Clario app and keep the Antivirus and VPN tools enabled at all times
- Back up your data somewhere safe
- Perform regular software updates on your devices to avoid having security loopholes.
How to protect yourself from cybercrime
You probably take some steps to protect your personal information, like avoiding clicking on texts and emails from unknown senders. Maybe you don’t visit dodgy websites or download suspicious apps. That’s good and well, but it’s not enough.
The best way to protect yourself from cybercrime is by using reliable antivirus software and a good VPN. An anti-spying took like Clario offers both these tools under one roof, allowing you to protect your device in one all-inclusive app.
The interface is simple for anyone to use and gives you a snapshot of how the app is protecting your device. Don’t take chances when it comes to your personal information. Download Clario, make a payment to create an account, and experience first-hand how convenient Clario is to use. Protect your device at all costs.