Computer crime encompasses a wide range of criminal activity that is done through digital technology. Cybercrime is a growing threat to U.S. citizens. Last year, 71% of U.S. citizens reported that they were afraid of falling victim to cybercrime and nearly 30% were affected by data breaches.
In order to help keep your data safe, note the top five most common crimes.
- Computer virus/malware. Computer viruses, also known as malware, are the most common type of cybercrime. Malware is any system that is designed to damage or disable your electronic device. It is commonly used to take full or partial control of your computer, tablet, phone, or other device, giving the criminal full access to your device.
- Data breaches/identity theft. Your personal identity may be compromised through a data breach. This can happen through a company that has your personal information on file or through a breach on your own device. If a cybercriminal gains access to your personal information—address, phone number, birthdate, social security number, etc., they can open accounts in your name and spend your money.
- Debit or credit card fraud. In addition to traditional credit card fraud, there is electronic fraud. This type of fraud can occur from entering your credit or debit card number on an unsecure website. Your credit card does not have to be physically present in order for this type of fraud to happen.
- Stolen passwords. Passwords that are shared or easy-to-guess have a high risk of being stolen. A cybercriminal may have access to your bank account, credit card number, social security number and more if they figure out your password(s). In addition, if you forget to log out of any account, banking, social media, email or others, a cybercriminal may be able to gain access to your information.
- Phishing. Phishing is a computer crime that uses encrypted links to gain personal information. Phishers send out thousands of emails with clickbait, hoping that people will open the email with the encrypted link. When a person does click on the link it gives the phisher access to the person’s computer.
The first step in avoiding falling victim to cybercrime is to be aware of the ways in which these criminals can access your information. Once you are aware of the threat, you may be better equipped to protect yourself.
How do cybercriminals get caught?
Because cybercriminals can gain access to your information from any location, they may be difficult to catch. Someone that lives in another country may be able to access your device. Investigators can often track the cybercriminal’s electronic footprint or their IP address.
When that isn’t possible, cybercriminals may be caught spending your money. Since most cybercrimes are monetarily motivated, authorities may be able to flag your credit card or bank account and catch the criminal when they use that information.