Computer crime – commonly referred to as cyber crime – is any type of criminal activity which is carried out over the Internet. As the popularity of the world wide web increases, along with the availability of technology to exploit it, so does the number of cyber crimes committed. Here are some of the most common types.
Browsing Illegal Content
The Internet allows users a degree of anonymity, which can give people the confidence to search for, download or share illegal material such as child pornography. This type of computer crime is taken very seriously, and can result in a prolonged prison sentence.
Online retail and banking has never been so popular, and companies spend millions ensuring that their customer’s details are kept secure. In spite of this, identity theft is still a problem, with criminals accessing personal information such as bank details, social security numbers and credit cards. These are then used to make transactions in the victim’s name, resulting in financial loss and ruined credit ratings.
It is a violation of copyright to copy software, music, games or movies, and it is also a crime to deliberately download this material. Yet this is something which many otherwise law abiding citizens do on a regular basis. Consequently, many governments are actively implementing measures to block this type of activity.
Hacking is one of the oldest form of cyber crime, and is still very prevalent despite constantly evolving measures to keep Internet users safe. It involves remotely accessing personal information on a person’s computer. Criminals use a variety of means to achieve this, and the victim is not always aware that their computer has been hacked.
Illegal programs or software such as viruses and Trojans can be used to steal sensitive information from the victim’s computer, or simply to cause malicious damage to the system. These can be unwittingly downloaded via email attachments or unsecure websites.
Cyber stalking is similar to harassment from offline stalkers, except that the attention or abuse is made via electronic means such as email or social media. It is more commonly called “cyber bullying” when both the perpetrator and victim are below the age of 18 – this is also illegal if the messages include threats of violence or hate activity.
How To Protect Yourself From Cyber Crime
There are a number of ways in which individuals can protect themselves from becoming a victim of computer crime.
With so many passwords to remember it is understandable that many people resort to passwords which are easy to recall, or use the same passwords for multiple websites. Yet weak passwords are still one of the most common ways for hackers to gain access.
Always ensure that your password is a minimum of eight characters long, and includes both numbers and letters. It should also never include recognizable words, as this will make it more vulnerable to hacking software.
Be Wary Of Phishing Emails
Scammers are taking advantage of the popularity of online banking and websites such as Paypal, by sending phishing emails purporting to be from these companies. These will link to a dummy website, designed to capture your genuine log in details. Never click on email links – if in doubt of an email’s authenticity, always open the site directly in a separate tab of your browser.
Avoid Unknown Websites
Stick to reputable websites when browsing the Internet. Adult and scam websites are the most common ways to fall victim to hacker programs or illegal data mining.
Computer crime is a very widespread problem. You should be aware of the legalities of online activities such as downloading pirated material, as well as educating yourself on how to avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime.
If you think you or your company have been a victim of any type of computer crime, don’t suffer in silence – contact a recommend computer forensics company – they will be able to provide the service you need and guarantee confidentiality.