Cyber crime (or “cybercrime”) occurs when a computer is the object of the crime or is used as a tool to commit an offense. A cyber criminal may use a device to access a user’s personal information, confidential business information, government information, or to disable a device. It is also a cyber crime to sell or elicit the above information online.
There are three major categories of cyber crime: individual, property and government. The types of methods used and difficulty levels vary depending on the category.
- Identity Theft occurs when a criminal gains access to a user’s personal information to steal funds, access confidential information, or participate in tax or health insurance fraud. They can also open an account in your name (often a phone or Internet account), use your name to plan a criminal activity, and claim government benefits in your name. They may do this by finding out a user’s passwords through hacking, retrieving personal information from social media, or sending phishing emails.
- Cyberstalking is online harassment where the user is subjected to a plethora of online messages and emails. Typically, cyberstalkers use social media, websites and search engines to intimidate a user and instill fear, shame or embarrassment. The cyberstalker usually knows the victim and makes the person feel afraid or concerned for their safety.
- Social Engineering involves criminals making direct contact with a target, usually by phone or email. They want to gain the person’s confidence and usually pose as a customer service agent so the victim will provide sensitive information needed to carry out a cyber crime. This is typically a password, the name of an employer or bank account information. Cyber criminals will research a victim online prior to contact, and then attempt to add that person as a “friend” on social media accounts. Once they gain access to an account, they can sell that person’s information or secure accounts in that name.
- Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) are a type of malware, which generally are less personally threatening. They uninstall necessary software in your system, such as search engines and pre-downloaded apps. They can include spyware or adware, so it’s a good idea to install an antivirus software to avoid the malicious download.