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Cybercrime: The hi-tech criminals

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What is it?

The internet and email are enabling a number of cybercrimes to be committed. Cybercrime includes a range of criminality such as hacking, financial crimes, viruses, botnets, trojans, trolls, virtual harassment, bribery, extortion and taking over websites. Anyone that uses the internet can become a victim of cybercrime, often unknowingly. This crime also knows no boundaries, as crime can be committed globally with ease. This ensures investigation of such crime is more difficult and so prosecution of offenders is a rarity.

How is it committed?

The criminals use weaknesses in the internet in order to commit crimes using computer networks. The purpose is often for either instant financial gain, to disrupt a company as much as possible or to steal personal details or financial data.

This can be done in a number of ways including hacking, which may be hacking into a company’s customer database or into your personal email account or to divert payments from a website. Company websites are often attacked in order to ensure reputational damage or to disrupt business for the company. ‘Trolling’ is also a relatively new occurrence where people are bullied on-line, social profiles are defaced, often in tragic circumstances. The criminals are also often politically motivated.

Also, it is used for financial crimes, such as intercepting payment information from a site, which can be used for identity theft, to make unauthorised transactions or to make counterfeit cards. Any data that is obtained through cybercrime is vulnerable to be sold on to other criminals and fraudsters so it is important to be aware that once you are a victim, other attacks may follow.

Finally, viruses and botnets can be hidden in links on emails or videos posted on social networks, and so these can make the data on your computer of phone vulnerable to access from the criminals.

What can you do to prevent becoming a victim?

There are a number of things that you can do to manage the risk of becoming a victim of scams, including:

  • Use strong passwords and do not share them with anyone;
  • Make sure you utilise updated internet security on your computers and phones, both personal and business;
  • Never respond to contact from someone you don’t know;
  • Don’t share personal or financial details with anyone;
  • Regularly review you bank statements for unauthorised transactions;
  • Ensure you have a secured wireless connection, with a password;
  • Don’t click on links if you don’t know the true sender; and
  • Again, if it looks too good to be true it probably is.

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