Cyber crime: what is it?
Cyber crime encompasses many different criminal activities which target individuals and businesses in the digital world. This can range from viruses, malware and phishing scams to big organized cyber attacks on organizations or even public institutions. The defining factor is the use of a computer to attain illegal ends, while the options and variations of these crimes are very wide. The data gained by hacking or in other ways scamming people can be used for fraud, identity theft, harassment, extortion and many other privacy violations. This also includes intellectual property theft, industrial espionage, spreading illegal content such as child pornography, selling drugs or weapons through the dark net and any other illegal activity you can think of.
For individuals, losing your personal data and bank statements can be devastating and cause many problems, loss of money and resources, as well as damaging information being spread freely. For big organizations, however, the consequences can be far wider. These situations can severely damage the company and its reputation and cause a loss of business and customers, but it can also directly damage thousands of clients and their own personal data or funds which are connected to the company under attack.
How to protect ourselves
It’s important to be aware of some crucial aspects of cyber security and how to protect yourself from common crimes online. The core idea of cyber security is to protect the devices we use, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and computers, as well as the services we access online. This applies to both personal devices at home, as well as those at work which are used for business.
At the individual level, we need to be aware of how the internet works, that we all have a digital identity and we should protect it just like we protect our documents, phone, keys and other items in person. Our username and password allow us to access all of our data and services, and we should never share them with others as this way you risk losing a lot of important data as well as the control of those accounts. Besides keeping our information safe and trying to have strong passwords, we should also keep our security apps and virus protection software up to date and active, as this can protect us in a lot of cases.
In a lot of cases cybercriminals rely on our naivete and desire to keep everything simple, not complicating our lives with a lot of software, hard passwords and examining every new wifi network and link we click on. We often make it quite easy to be hacked or tricked into downloading a virus, and a lot of these mistakes can often be avoided with a little bit of effort and education. We don’t need to know all about the complicated workings of wifi networks and VPNs in order to put a password on our computers or to stay away from using random suspicious free networks around the city. We can download a trusted antivirus program to stop us or keep us from getting affected even if we accidentally try to go on a suspicious website. There are password protection softwares which help us keep strong passwords and remember them. Even google chrome and other browsers have a basic security feature to warn us if something is wrong, and the only thing we need to do is to remember to keep it updated.
And in the case of big companies, organized cyber crime attacks can be much more complicated than the simple viruses meant for individuals online. The responsibility of a large company is not only keeping simple company information safe, but ensuring safety for all employees and their data, as well as the data of their thousands of customers. This is why companies usually invest in more complex security systems and IT departments capable of handling these issues. Security can always be a smart investment if it is targeted and planned. There are many softwares and programs available that can help us fight off hackers and different attacks, and we should always keep educated and aware of all the dangers we face in the digital world, so that we can keep using it safely and enjoy all of its wonders.