What is Cybercrime?

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Protecting yourself from cybercrime

With the rapid increase in technology advancements over the past 20 years, cybercrime is more prevalent than ever as it can be a lucrative endeavour for criminals. To make certain you do not fall victim to these crimes, you must ensure your data is well protected.

Being safe and secure online has never been more important: nearly all our information is stored across our devices, and working from home is becoming more common, which adds to the sensitive data you need to protect.

Ensuring you have robust antivirus software and cybersecurity solutions in place across all your devices could be the difference between you falling victim to cybercrime and ensuring your data is kept safe.


What is cybercrime?

Criminals who engage in cybercrime capitalise on internet users’ personal information to achieve an illegal end goal. Cybercrime is where a computer is the object of the crime, or is used as a tool to commit an offence.

There are various types of cybercrime that a cybercriminal may engage in, the main ones listed below, but they all usually involve illegal access to a user’s personal information, confidential business information, government information, or the disablement of a device.


The impact of online fraud and cybercrime

Cybercrime and online fraud can have a severe impact on individuals and companies alike. According to the City of London Police, online fraud has cost the UK public £34.5m since March 2020, with online shopping fraud reaching an all-time high during the pandemic. It isn’t just the financial burden that cybercrime has on individuals; the emotional distress this kind of crime can give people is also becoming more widespread. Victims are more likely to require medical attention as a consequence of online fraud victimisation, due to the increased stress and emotional pressure felt as a result of this type of crime.


The different types of cybercrime attack and how to protect yourself

Types of cybercrime include:

  • Hacking – This may be one of the most well-known forms of cybercrime. Criminals will gain unauthorised access to computers or networks by bypassing security protocols to steal money, personal information or disrupt businesses. To protect yourself from hacking, it's best to have a completely unique and different password for every online account you create, so if one is compromised, the rest aren’t. It’s important to ensure your passwords are strong and complex, like those generated in a password generator, and may also help to keep track of these via an ultra-secure password manager, offered by ESET.
  • Online fraud – There are various types of online fraud, which at its core, focusses on deceiving someone to obtain money or information. To protect yourself from this crime, it's best to ensure that the security software on all of your devices is up to date, to provide a barrier against attackers.
  • Malicious software – Also known as malware, malicious software is spread between computers to interfere with how the system works. This could mean disrupting the systems to make the computer crash and delete files, or stealing personal information and data found on the computer. Like online fraud, malicious software is best combatted with up-to-date antivirus software.
  • Trolling – Usually found on social media sites, this is where someone will intentionally post harmful, harassing and abusive comments on the sites. Individuals can be prosecuted under the Malicious Communication Act 1988 and the Communications Act 2003. Reporting trolls to the local police or your country's cybercrime agency can help protect you and others from trolling, as well as blocking the user and muting certain words or phrases, so they don’t appear in your feed to engage with.
  • Online identity theft – Similar to how identity theft works in the real world, online identity theft occurs when an individual steals someone’s personal information to mimic their identity to carry out illegal activities. This could include crimes like hacking, stealing from an online back or engaging in blackmail. Using strong, unique passwords for each account, learning to spot scams and only using reputable websites when making an online purchase, ensuring the site using Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS), will help to keep your activities secure.