Keeping Yourself Safe Online: Understanding The Top 5 Most Common Cybercrimes
In the age of technology, we as humans are becoming more and more dependent on all things digital. From the way we do work to the way we shop, and even to the way we talk to one another, almost everything we do in our day to day lives involves using a device or the internet. Relying heavily on all things digital isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, there are vast benefits to this digital age, including the ability to communicate with others in other parts of the world instantaneously, being able to work from remote locations, and being able to buy almost anything you need with a few clicks of a button.
However, with the copious benefits that the digital age has to offer, there is one downside to it: cybercrime. Cybercrime is essentially any kind of crime that is committed via a device or the internet. Oftentimes cybercrime involves stealing a person’s identity or money, exploiting personal information, and gaining access to private accounts. Cybercrime has the potential to ruin people’s lives by costing them their job, relationships, and their finances; and unfortunately, cybercrime is more common than we think.
Sometimes cybercrimes can be stopped or tracked down using a computer forensics investigator; however, it will be in your best interest to do what you can to avoid these crimes altogether. How can you do this? The first step is to know what to look for.
The Most Common Cybercrimes to Watch Out For
In order to protect yourself from cybercrime, it’s important you know the most common cybercrimes and what to watch out for. Below is a short guide to the top 5 most common cybercrime to be aware of.
Pay Attention to Potential Phishing Attacks
We all get countless emails and messages every day offering deals, asking for information, and advertising business. Though some of these emails and messages are real, just as many are fraudulent. It’s common for cybercriminals to pose as trustworthy companies and people when trying to get confidential information from people. Cybercriminals take advantage of the influx of emails and messages and develop phishing scams to trick innocent and unaware internet users into handing over their information. Typically the demographic that falls the most for these scams are elderly or very young internet users.
It is easy to fall for a phishing scam because cybercriminals are skilled at what they do. They know how to make their emails and messages seem legitimate. If you receive a message from a person or email you have never interacted with, block and delete it. Or, if the information they are saying sounds like something you are interested in/need to take care of, research the person or company online. It’s likely that if a person is trying to scam you, they are trying to scam others and those people likely are posting about it. However, no matter what, before you hand over any personal information, ask to talk to someone over the phone and find out his or her credentials.
Avoid Credential Breach
A credential breach is when a hacker has access to a person’s personal information including login credentials and passwords to various accounts. Credential breaches are most common for large companies or places of work. When hackers steal credentials, they are looking to gain access to people’s bank accounts.
To avoid a credential breach, make sure that you are using a strong password for each account and that each account has a different password; especially your bank account. Never use the same password for your bank account as you use for any other site; social media included. Likewise, don’t share your password with anyone, and be sure that you don’t store it anywhere digitally.
Protect Yourself Against Malware
Malware, also referred to as malicious software, is a kind of software that contains viruses and spyware to steal or exploit a person. Malware can make its way onto any device and can do the following:
- Spy on you
- Track keystrokes
- Hack into accounts
- Cause a system lockdown
- Steal top-secret documents
Malware is often installed on a computer when a person opens a file or document that contains the malware software.
To protect yourself against malware, be sure not to open any files you are not familiar with and make sure that you install some sort of antivirus software.
Identity Theft is More Common Than You Think
Because we use the internet to purchase things, a lot of our valuable and personal information exists somewhere on a vast digital network; cyber attackers are aware of this and will use this to their advantage. Identity theft is one of the hardest digital crimes to resolve and will not only cause you personal stress, it will cause you extreme financial stress as well. Here are some ways to protect yourself against digital identity theft:
- Monitor your accounts and credit reports
- Change account passwords often
- Enroll in email alerts to confirm transactions on your accounts
- If you notice suspicious activity, you should report it to the authorities right away
Credit and Debit Fraud Can Ruin Your Life
Like identity theft, cyber attackers can gain your debit or credit information because of the way we bank and shop online. Some other ways the cyber attackers gain access to credit and debit accounts include:
- If you entered your card number on a fake website by accident
- Using public WiFi
- If there is a breach of a business’ internal payment system
The best way to protect yourself from this kind of fraud is to simply check your bank accounts often and make sure that you are using strong passwords.
Be Proactive and Do All That You Can To Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime
It’s important that you keep the most common kinds of cybercrimes in mind as you use the internet and digital device. The more you know about what to watch out for, the better protected you will be from any potential cyber threats. Whether you are an owner of a large corporation or a stay at home mom, you should also consider doing all that you can to keep your devices extra safe from hackers by installing various software.
About the Author
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey.