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What Is Computer Crime? A Simple Guide to Computer Crimes

Did you know that over 230,000 new malware samples appear each day?

Malware is an aspect of computer crimes, but it’s the most common. But what is computer crime, exactly? If you aren’t well-versed with the internet, you might find it confounding.

Don’t feel confused yet.

With this guide, you’ll learn the basics of computer crimes and its subtypes. Read on and ensure you’re well-protected from these menaces.

What is Computer Crime?

Computer crime is an unlawful activity targeting computers, computer networks, or networked devices. Hackers and other cybercriminals perpetrate this crime to make money, gain recognition, or steal information. The worst part is that either individuals or organizations carry out computer crimes.

Organized criminals use advanced techniques thanks to their high technological skills. On the other side of the spectrum, some are novice hackers looking to improve their capabilities. In some cases, people commit computer crimes because of personal or political reasons.

Common Computer Crimes

To qualify as a computer crime, it must involve a computer and network attacked using the same technology.  There are lots of different computer crimes that fall under this umbrella. Here are the most common computer crimes around:

1. Fraud

This is a blanket term describing a crime of deceit. The intent is to gain vital data and information. With the digital age well on its way, computer fraud is as rampant as ever. Fraud alters, destroys, steals, and withholds information to gain unlawful or unfair advantages.

2. Hacking

This computer crime is one of the most famous ones around, because of the literature and media surrounding it. At its core, hacking refers to the unlawful acquisition of functions of a system, website, or network. The takeover is either partial or complete, and its goal is to breach privacy and gain critical data and information.

That’s what makes corporate and government accounts attractive to most hackers. Regardless, these individuals employ various methods of hacking to get their way. That’s why businesses must invest in a robust security system for their digital assets.

Do you need a criminal defense lawyer for computer crimes like hacking? If so, there are resources available to help you out.

3. Identity Theft

This is a subset of fraud, where computer criminals steal another person’s data. This includes the following information:

  • Password
  • Bank account details
  • Social security
  • Credit and debit card information

Take note, these are only the most common targets, but an identity thief can steal other sensitive data. The goal of stealing your information is to get monetary gains. It’s a lucrative crime since over 1.1 million Americans get their identities stolen each year.

4. Online Scams

Scams come in different forms, but the most common method is to offer cyber-related services. For example, a scammer often offers network troubleshooting, IT support services, and computer repair. This causes you to spend hundreds of dollars to address non-existent problems.

To make it simpler, schemes operating outside the law with the intent to earn money is a scam.

5. Malware

This type of computer crime uses computer viruses to access systems and get important information. The most skilled programmers can send malware and other malicious programs to destroy entire computers, systems, and networks. These criminals often use removable devices like USB flash disks and the internet to spread computer viruses.

6. Ransomware

This is a subset of malware, but it’s one of the most destructive computer crimes around. Once it enters your computer network, it encrypts your files and information using public-key encryption methods. Its destructive power is vast, with over 638 million computers affected globally at its peak.

7. DDoS Attack

DDoS is the acronym for Distributed Denial of Service attack. It’s a popular hacking method aiming to temporarily or permanently interrupt networks and servers. When systems go offline, a website’s functions get compromised, making it unavailable.

8. Botnets

Remote “bot herders” utilize botnets to attack anywhere they go and in a covert manner. They use it to attack computers through malware or spam. Most attacks happen to businesses and governments since it attacks their IT infrastructure.

The good news is that various botnet removal tools are available online. These tools can detect and block botnets. That way, it won’t have the chance to compromise your network and systems.

9. Spamming

This computer crime uses electronic messaging systems like email services. Its primary goal is to send messages containing malware, fake website links, and other malicious applications. If you use email daily, you’ll have your fair share of getting spam emails.

For example, messages from shady organizations, companies, or groups will often appear in your email. It’s because spammers will use tools to send them in bulk. These emails often contain deals, promos, and other attractive offers to fool users into clicking their links.

10. Phishing

In this type of fraud, phishers act like legitimate organizations through email spoofing methods. Their objective is to get confidential data like social security numbers, passwords, and more. It often goes hand-in-hand with spamming since phishers send emails to thousands of users.

11. Social Engineering

This crime uses direct contact methods like emails and phone calls. These people often act like legitimate companies to make you put your guard down. They make friends out of you, earning your trust until you willingly give them your data.

12. Cyberstalking

Like its real-world counterpart, cyberstalking is a crime of following someone online. Stalkers follow the victim’s online activities and attempt to use it for their benefit. The majority of cyberstalking victims are women and children followed by creepy men and pedophiles.

13. Child Pornography

The internet makes it easier to access pornographic content, and most are legal. But most countries have laws that prosecute child pornography. The penalties for this heinous computer crime are severe, involving long prison sentences and heavy fines.

Protect Yourself Today!

With this, we hopefully answered your question on what is computer crime. Be careful of your online activities to avoid encountering these criminal activities.

Is this guide helpful? Do you want to discover even more ways to keep your system secure? If so, read our other posts and learn more defensive maneuvers to keep hackers away!

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