Cybercrime Prevention: Who Are The Most Likely Victims of Cybercriminal Activity?
The digital landscape is a playground for a myriad of unlawful actions such as identity theft, financial fraud, and service disruption.
With VPN-enabled anonymity and accessible hacking tools, cybercrimes have become dangerously convenient. 2022 saw an alarming 87% spike in cyberattacks, and the numbers are projected to exponentially increase in the coming years.
To ensure safety at personal, organizational, and national levels, it is imperative to understand and urgently prioritize cybercrime prevention.
In this blog, we explain cybercrime, its various types, and common targets. Additionally, we also round up seven essential tips to help you stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
What is Cybercrime and Who is Vulnerable to It?
Cybercrime is any illicit activity involving computers, computer networks, or networked devices.
Various techniques including phishing emails, malware distribution, and ransomware are used to corrupt electronic devices and access their data.
While many of these attacks are launched to extort money from individuals and organizations, they are also at times motivated by personal disputes, theft of confidential data, and political espionage.
From novice hackers to terrorist organizations and state-sponsored agencies, a range of different groups are involved in the crime. This is why, while young adults and people over 75 are the most likely victims of cyberattacks, every individual and organization is prone to it.
What are the Types of Cybercrime?
To effectively implement cybercrime prevention, it is crucial to first understand the different types of cyberattacks.
Following are the common forms of recorded cyberattacks:
Ransomware is a type of malware that denies a user /organization access to their computer systems. Hackers demand ransom in exchange for a decryption key for the data.
There are two main types of ransomware:
- Crypto Ransomware: This attack indeterminately prevents access to personal files and certain data via file encryption.
- Locker Ransomware: In contrast to blocking the stored files, locker ransomware locks the user out of the computer with only limited access that allows communication with the hacker.
Several variants of ransomware software have emerged over the years, and their distinct characteristics make it easier for hackers to evade detection. Typically, the payment is also demanded through cryptocurrency which further makes it difficult to trace the criminals.
DDoS or distributed denial-of-service are attacks launched to overwhelm a website with massive volume of traffic, making it slow or even unavailable to its target users.
The attack works by remotely controlling a botnet, i.e., a network of Internet-connected computers, electronics, and IoT devices that have already been infected with malware. Each device (or bot) is directed to send multiple requests to the target IP address, congesting the server, which consequently results in denial-of-service to legitimate traffic.
While DDoS attacks do not necessarily lead to data breaches, they significantly compromise your reputation, revenue generation, and SEO ranking.
Phishing involves cybercriminals impersonating a reputable 3rd party to harvest confidential information. Here’s how these scams play out:
- Hackers select a business and infiltrate their computer systems to obtain customers' emails.
- The hackers then send emails to the customers with attached links to solicit their personal information. Since the fraudulent emails mimic a trusted party, people often do not suspect any malicious intent.
- Any recorded data is then collected and subsequently used /sold for identity theft.
Piracy is a significant problem for software developers. It entails unauthorized copying, and distribution of software that violates intellectual property agreements and understandably results in heavy financial loss for the developers.
Pirated software accounts for 37% of all software used globally. Hackers either use cracking tools to bypass license keys, or they develop keygens i.e. computer programs that make licensing keys. This allows them to activate/run software without a valid credential.
The pirated copies are then distributed in underground markets to be sold at a cheaper price.
It is essential to mention that pirated software doesn't just infringe property rights of developers, but is frequently corrupted and can also jeopardize the security of the user's computer.
Cyberstalking is an imminent problem in the digital age. It implies the use of electronics to repeatedly send out unwanted text and threatening emails.
Most of the time, hackers obtain access to sensitive data which is then used to blackmail the victim. These attacks are often motivated by personal disputes and are understandably debilitating to the victim's psychological health.
How to Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime?
Cyberattacks are pervasive and pose serious threats to individuals, businesses, and even national security. Since scams are constantly evolving, it is paramount to safeguard your digital presence by equipping your devices with high-end security protocols.
Here are some helpful cybercrime prevention strategies to thwart potential cyberattacks.
Use Legitimate Software and Keep It Updated
As we discussed, pirated software is not only ethically and legally wrong, but it also often has hidden malware that can compromise your system's security and steal sensitive data.
Original software is not only safe to use, but it is also frequently updated with an antivirus that protects your system from getting corrupted.
Install a Good Antivirus Software
Antivirus is essentially a cybercrime prevention software that is developed to scan, detect, and delete viruses from the computer. Once installed, the software runs in the background, checking the files and programs on the device against an extensive database of known malware threats.
Suspicious files are automatically marked for deletion or made inaccessible, thus removing any risk to your computer.
Use Strong Passwords
Hackers have developed several techniques like dictionary attacks, credential stuffing, and brute force attacks that can easily crack weak passwords. Therefore, setting a strong password is crucial to protect your online presence.
In terms of cybersecurity, password strength is determined by the time a hacker would need to successfully crack it. A password should ideally be a combination of different numbers, symbols, uppercase, and lowercase letters, 12 to 14 characters long.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a cybercrime prevention system that manages access to apps and data. The process comprises passwords, and biometrics/tokens, and this extra layer of security makes it hard for a hacker to bypass the authentication check.
You can easily set up 2FA on your device by navigating to security in your Google account settings.
Do Not Click On Links in Spam Emails
Mostly, malicious emails are automatically filtered out into the spam folder. There's a high chance for an email in the spam folder to likely be a phishing attempt, which is why you should strictly avoid clicking on any links attached to them.
Avoid Sharing Personal Information Online
Any personal information available online can be used to dox you or steal your identity. Anyone can be a target of identity theft and financial fraud, hence, you must always stay wary when disclosing any kind of private information.
Log Off Your Systems Regularly
Cyberattacks are carried over the internet, and logging off your computer automatically renders it less prone to malware attacks. It is therefore also recommended to disable the Wi-Fi connection when a device is not in use.
How can we report cybercrimes?
Every country has a dedicated complaint center that deals with cyberattacks. If you are a victim of any digital scam or crime, immediately contact your local law enforcement or national cybercrime agency to file a report.
How to protect your business from cybercrime?
Even with cybercrime prevention measures like two-factor authentication and installation of antivirus software, businesses can remain vulnerable to malware attacks. Therefore, many large-scale corporations subscribe to CSaaS (cybersecurity-as-a-service) to enhance their security.