The easiest definition of cybercrime would be any illegal or criminal act perpetrated through the Internet and its vast networks. This includes everything from downloading illegal music files to stealing money from bank accounts, identity theft, harassment, etc. However, cybercrime is not just crimes for personal or financial gain; it also includes the spreading of malicious viruses and leaking of sensitive information.
As far as you and I are concerned the most prominent threat we as ‘average Joes’ face from cyber criminals is identity theft. This is done in two ways, phishing and pharming.
Both methods are designed to extract personal information from victims. Things like ID numbers, account details, etc. normally done by the creation of an official and bona fide looking web site, perhaps selling some or other product. Often usernames, passwords and phone numbers are required. All ending up in the criminal’s hands. Most victims fall to these crimes because these sites or emails appear incredibly legitimate and many victims are the elderly who are not aware of the latest criminal trends.
In 2012, the Avalanche Network, a cybercrime group, sent out millions of viruses that were known as ransomware. These viruses allowed ingenious criminals to capture bank account and email passwords of hundreds of companies worldwide. With this info, cybercriminals were able to transfer funds from victims accounts into their own.
Typically, the holiday seasons will see a spike in Internet crime because users become more active. Fake websites offering irresistible holiday deals, accommodation rates, etc crop up. Facebook users start to share travel plans and destinations. This all plays into criminals’ hands.
The buying of gifts over the Internet is another popular way of getting victims to part with their personal information and money.
VALUABLE TIPS TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF CYBERCRIME
I always advise our clients to change passwords regularly. This minimises the chances of your passwords being hacked.
Spend money on good and recognised anti-virus software. Don't ignore the importance of having well run firewalls. These defenses can save you from many of the cybercrime viruses out there.
Be social media savvy.... ensure your Facebook, Twitter, etc. have their settings on private. Be careful what information you post. You never know who is watching or stalking.
Never store your passwords, usernames and other personal information on mobile devices. Once they get into the wrong hands you are at real risk.
Use encryption for all your sensitive data.
Protect your identity at all costs. Consider very carefully before sharing credit card information, ID numbers, etc.
Be wary of emails that are Gmail based. All legitimate companies should have professional email addresses. Not ones that are simply created and hosted online.
Reporting cybercrime can be done here:
- onTrack.org.za Just.ac.za
Hope this helps.
For further information, my details are:
Managing Director of D&K Management Consultants
International investigation company