- Cybercrime is the use of computers to commit illegal activities, ranging from defacing websites to espionage against nation-states.
- Individual cybercrime targets people or households and includes methods like phishing, identity theft, ransomware, and general fraud.
- Organizational or business cybercrime targets larger entities and utilizes methods like phishing, social engineering, and website exploitation.
- Cybercrime targeting property focuses on assets like credit cards, bank accounts, and copyrighted material, and includes methods like network exploitation and piracy.
- Cybercrime targeting society is aimed at assets and information on a country-wide scale and involves methods like social engineering and state-sponsored hacking.
There are many different types of cybercrime. The digital landscape has changed drastically since the internet’s introduction to the masses. As you can imagine, this evolution of technology has led to vastly different needs for people, companies, and even governments.
Cybercrime is rather pervasive in modern society. It certainly seems like you can’t go far without news of some new attack on a digital asset. You might even receive periodic alerts about passwords or compromised usernames depending on your web browser of choice.
The good news is there is some method of mitigation for most types of cybercrime. It might not be eradicated outright, but there are safeguards to keep data, infrastructure, and other considerations safe.
If you’re new to the world of cybercrime, then you’ve come to the right place. You don’t need to be a trained professional to get more insight into digital criminals.
What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime can be defined as the use of computers to commit any illegal activity. This can range from less destructive acts like defacing a website to more overt acts like espionage against nation-states. The common thread between these crimes is using a computer and computer networks.
Cybercrime is an extensive term, as it can cover a variety of bad actors. The person attempting to steal your credit card information from a bogus email is under the same umbrella as the state-sponsored hacker seeking secrets from another country.
Cybercrime typically has different methods of prevention as well as investigation. Sadly, it is a steadily growing consideration for companies and individuals alike. Most larger companies have trained and qualified staff on hand to act as first responders for example.
Individuals have to do their own cyber security, which may be daunting. Not everyone is a tech guru, but they certainly deserve to keep their data and assets safe.
1. Individual Cybercrime
Individual cybercrime refers to criminal acts targeting people or households. The scale and scope of the crimes committed are far less grand than the ones that make the news. That doesn’t the cybercrime any less devastating for the individual, however.
Individual cybercrime can come about through seeking financial gain or digital harassment. The overall aim remains the same, as these are crimes at a far smaller scale than some of the other types of cybercrime.
Typical methods you might see in use for individual cybercrime would be phishing, identity theft, ransomware, malware, and general fraud.
Phishing is a social engineering attack, meaning a bad actor is posing an email as someone they aren’t to take advantage of a computer user. You’ll see examples of bogus emails constantly in your spam filter, but these can sometimes be personalized.
Identity theft needs little introduction but generally relies on a bad actor using identifying information for their own personal gain. This can be harder to prevent, as most folks aren’t going to willingly hand over social security information and the like.
Ransomware has made the news quite frequently. These attacks lock down your computer and encrypt all data unless a ransom is paid. These can be devastating attacks unless you keep periodic backups.
General fraud can refer to spam, stealing Wi-Fi, and other crimes that are taking advantage of your computer, internet service, or network.
Prevention or mitigation of cybercrime as an individual is less stringent than with other types of cybercrime. You’ll want to implement safe practices in your household. This would include unique and strong passwords for each website.
With phishing emails, you’ll want to verify the sender and forego clicking any links or attachments present in the body of the email. These attacks can compromise your banking information or even lead to ransomware attacks.
Ransomware is difficult to remedy, but you can mitigate the damage. You’ll want to keep regular backups of all pertinent or sensitive information. There are numerous services that can automate this process, but it is recommended to keep local backups as well.
General fraud and identity theft are difficult to mitigate. As such, you’ll want to be ready to change compromised passwords, terminate compromised credit cards, and just be ready to move quickly once news breaks.
2. Organizational or Business Cybercrime
This is one of the types of cybercrime that makes the news regularly. Organizational cybercrime targets larger entities, usually corporate structures or other major entities. Businesses can house untold amounts of personally identifying data for their customers.
Other motivating factors might be vital data, particularly if the company works in a field where corporate espionage might be the norm.
Businesses make for ample targets for cybercrime and can be lucrative for the bad actors willing to take the risk.
There are numerous methods cybercriminals might utilize to take advantage of an organization’s computers or network. You’ll find typical attacks like phishing or whaling here, as well as other methods of social engineering.
More overt attacks like man-in-the-middle, poisoning ARP tables, and website exploitation may also be conducted. Essentially, these are large targets with multiple points of entry. It only takes one weak point for a cybercriminal to get access to the computers or network.
Any business is going to have some degree of cybersecurity present in its day-to-day operations. These trained professionals are typically threat hunting, performing risk assessments, and conducting periodic security audits.
Lower-level employees in an organization are likely going to receive some form of training, at least to be aware of the risks.
Some companies will implement security in-depth, meaning there are multiple layers a cybercriminal would need to bypass to get in. You’ll see methods like the principle of least privilege, whitelisting, and encrypted transmissions when this is in use.
3. Cybercrime Targeting Property
This is one of the more nebulous types of cybercrime but does bear mention. Cybercrime targeting property is typically going after assets like credit cards, bank accounts, or even copyrighted material.
Financial materials have always been popular with cybercriminals. Property is a much wider consideration now, at least due to the interconnectivity of many elements in the fabric of modern society.
When you consider multiple vehicles have wireless internet access and said access has no safety provisions, it opens the door to nefarious possibilities.
Common methods of attack for property cybercrime include network exploitation, phishing, and other typical choices you might see with individual and organization cybercrime. It can even include things like email spam, a common annoyance for many individuals.
Rather than targeting a company or personal assets, it is usually about gaining access to the property itself.
Another form of cybercrime for property is piracy. This isn’t covered quite as much in cybersecurity, but it is still a major concern for companies holding intellectual property rights for an asset.
As with individual cybercrime, you’ll want to make sure you have fraud alerts on your credit cards and use unique and strong individual passwords for each account. Safeguarding things like network access points on your vehicle can be a little tricky, but you should be able to configure options.
Preventing software piracy is next to impossible. Given enough time, dedicated pirates will make the illicit materials available for everyone else to download. A stopgap measure is for developers to make their software require constant internet connections to access.
If most of the software is held server-side, it becomes very difficult to pirate something and retain the full functionality of the software.
4. Cybercrime Targeting Society
The last of the many types of cybercrime is crimes that target society as a whole. This is much larger in scope and is aimed at assets and information on a country-wide scale.
You’ll typically see this as a form of espionage or terrorism, depending on which group is targeting a country. This isn’t something most individuals will have to safeguard against but is something with a much wider impact than other types of cybercrime.
Social engineering is a common method for society-wide cybercrime. Other methods you might see employed are trained teams of black hat hackers. A black hat hacker is a cybercriminal who is usually state-sponsored.
What this means is they have access to far more sophisticated resources than someone who might target a company. Since they typically work in teams, attacks can come from multiple fronts. The typical hacker entry points of man-in-the-middle, routing table poisoning, and password cracking are all used.
Government teams have their own state-sponsored cybersecurity personnel and hackers to handle any intrusions on assets.
Prevention will usually entail in-depth security, constant threat hunting, and stringent security audits. A motivated team isn’t likely to be hindered, so it is more about minimizing damage than preventing entry. Of course, security teams will try to prevent entry, but plans will have fallback lines in the event of failure.
Protecting Yourself Against Cybercrime
As mentioned in the individual cybercrime coverage, there are steps you can take to minimize damage to your own household. Basic cybersecurity is great to have on hand in the event of an attack.
The use of strong unique passwords for each service you use is a vital step. While one account might get compromised, you won’t be left scrambling to change passwords for every site you use.
Standard network security protocols like WPA2/AES and WPA3 are great to implement. While hackers can get in, they are more likely to gain access to your vital information in a different way.
Making yourself an inconvenient target means cybercriminals are less likely to try and leverage your own resources for their gain.
Also, making regular backups both at home and using online services is heavily recommended. This allows your sensitive data to be kept safe, and in the event of a ransomware attack, you can be up and running in a matter of hours.
|Type of Cybercrime||Common Methods||Prevention Techniques|
|Individual Cybercrime||Phishing, Identity theft, Ransomware, Malware, General fraud||Unique and strong passwords, Verify email senders, Regular backups, Quick response to compromised data|
|Organizational or Business Cybercrime||Phishing, Whaling, Man-in-the-middle, ARP table poisoning, Website exploitation||Trained cybersecurity professionals, Security audits, Security in-depth, Principle of least privilege, Whitelisting, Encrypted transmissions|
|Cybercrime Targeting Property||Network exploitation, Phishing, Email spam, Piracy||Fraud alerts on credit cards, Unique and strong passwords, Configuring network access points, Server-side software|
|Cybercrime Targeting Society||Social engineering, Black hat hacking, Man-in-the-middle, Routing table poisoning, Password cracking||State-sponsored cybersecurity personnel, In-depth security, Constant threat hunting, Stringent security audits|
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