Cyber crimes are a modern and quite popular form of crime. The low chance of getting caught and the possibility of a high reward make it very attractive to criminals. Here are some of the most common cyber crimes you need to know about so you can stay safe on the Internet.
Music, media, and software piracy is rampant on the Internet. Numerous laws have been passed to help prosecutors charge those who pirate copyrighted material online, though the big targets by prosecutors are the hubs where pirates gather. From an individual perspective, however, there is another great risk for pirating material: it exposes you to other kinds of cyber crime.
The classic computer virus isn’t as popular as it once was. It has been replaced by a class of software called malware, or malicious software. The purpose of malware is to allow a criminal to gain access to your computer. Sometimes it’s to push lots of ads at you, sometimes it’s gathering personal information, and sometimes it’s to use your computer’s processing power for things like cryptocurrency mining or as a base to perform cyber attacks. A common vector for malware is visiting piracy sites, but it’s not the only source.
Ransomware is a form of malware in a class all its own. This software hijacks your system and encrypts the data on the drive. The user receives a message that they need to send money, often a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, to a specific address to get their data back. If this software gets into a business, the business is faced with either paying up or shutting down. This is the most dangerous form of malware today.
“Phishing” (pronounced like fishing) is a form of cyber attack designed to steal information. A criminal will forge an email with a link that looks like something legitimate. It can range from faking another company or carefully targeting someone and sending something that looks like it came from a friend or coworker. The purpose of these emails is to steal information, either by installing some piece of malware or redirecting the victim to a website where they put in their information thinking it’s a legitimate site. When this happens, the information can be used for identity theft or to gain access to their account.
These types of crimes are common, but you can protect yourself by being a bit more cautious and wary on the net. You can discover the link to a site simply by hovering over it to see where it’s going. If it’s going to a place that doesn’t seem ‘right,’ then don’t click on it.