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Cyber Crime and How it Affects You

Dec 12, 2012

What is Cyber Crime?

Cyber crime is a term that covers a broad scope of criminal activity using a computer. Some common examples of cyber crime include identity theft, financial fraud, website defacements, and cyber bullying. At an organizational level, cyber crime may involve the hacking of customer databases and theft of intellectual property. Many users think they can protect themselves, their accounts, and their personal computers (PCs) with just anti-spyware and anti-virus software. Cyber criminals are becoming more sophisticated, and they are targeting consumers as well as public and private organizations.Therefore, addiitonal layers of defense are needed.

An Example of Cyber Crime

An example of one type of cyber crime is an “account takeover.” This happens when cyber criminals compromise your computer and install malicious software, such as “keyloggers,” which record the key strokes, passwords, and other private information. This in turn allows them access to programs using your login credentials. Once these criminals steal your password, they may be able to breach your online bank account. These criminals can be anywhere in the world and may be able to transfer your money almost immediately.

What are the Effects of Cyber Crime?

The effects of a single, successful cyber attack can have far-reaching implications, including financial losses, theft of intellectual property, and loss of consumer confidence and trust. The overall monetary impact of cyber crime on society and government is estimated to be billions of dollars a year.

What Should We Do?

Training and awareness are important first steps in mitigating these attacks. All citizens, consumers, and employees should be aware of cyber threats and the actions they can take to protect their own information, as well as the information within their organization. So, what can you do to minimize the risk of becoming a cyber crime victim?

  1. USE STRONG PASSWORDS Use separate ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters, and by changing passwords on a regular basis.
    Be aware that your mobile device is vulnerable to viruses and hackers. Download applications from trusted sources. Do not store unnecessary or sensitive information on your mobile device. It is also important to keep the device physically secure; millions of mobile devices are lost each year. If you do lose your device, it should immediately be reported to your carrier and/or organization. There are some devices that allow remote erasing of data. Be sure to keep your mobile device password protected.
    Keep your applications and operating system (for example: Microsoft® Windows®, Apple® Mac, and Linux) current with the latest system updates. Turn on automatic updates to prevent potential attacks on older software.
    Use encryption for your most sensitive files, such as health records, tax returns, and financial records. Make regular back-ups of all your important data.
    Wi-Fi (wireless) networks at home are vulnerable to intrusion if they are not properly secured. Review and modify default settings. Public Wi-Fi, also known as “hot spots,” may be vulnerable. Avoid conducting sensitive transactions on these networks.
    Be cautious when giving out personal information, such as your name, address, telephone number, or financial information on the Internet. Make sure that websites are secure, especially when making online purchases, or that you have enabled privacy settings (for example: when accessing/using social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter®, YouTube, etc.). Once something is posted on the Internet, it may be there forever.