Cyber-crime refers to those criminal activities that are carried out with the help of internet. Computer and/or other hardware and software are used to carry out these types of crimes. We live in a technologically advance world. The world has become a global village where internet communication has grown fast. We connect to the internet vial our computer, mobile phones, tablets, watches and many more devices. Online devices can be reached by hackers to steal information or to inject viruses to them. This is why we use different hardware and software solutions to protect ourselves from such kinds of attacks. Cyber-crime has grown in to a huge industry with an estimated worth of $77 billion in 2015 and is expected to grow up to $170 billion in 2020 (“Forbes Welcome”). US government is expected to spend $14 billion on cybersecurity in the year 2016. In this paper, I would discuss the different types of cyber-crimes, their impact and how we can prevent ourselves from them.
Different types of cyber-crime
Cyber-crime has many types. In this paper I would discuss some of them which are related to the context of the course.
- Identity Theft: This is the most common type of cyber-crime. This is where a hacker steals someone’s identity information and uses it to gain financial or other personal gains (Mercuri 17). Stealing credit card information comes under this category. When credit card information is stolen, the thief would purport to be the actual credit card owner and try to make purchases with it.
- Spamming: Spam emails are sent to a number of emails with links that could offer rewards and a link has to be clicked. When this link is clicked, unwanted software like viruses or malware may get an access to your computer that are later used to steal different kind of information from your electronic device.
- Scams: Scams are used to attract online people by suggesting that there are software issues on the user’s electronic device and they can click the suggested aid to download a program to fix it.
- Social engineering: This is a method where the cyber-criminal may make a direct contact with you via an email or telephone. They try to be friendly and make you confident enough to trust them. Once they have your trust, they would ask you to share the information they need for their criminal acts. They might ask for credit card information or bank details.
- Botnets: These are computes which are already in the control of hackers who use them to attach other computers. Botnets are controlled remotely by hackers.
How to prevent cyber-crime
There are a number of techniques used to prevent cyber-crime. Some of these techniques prove to be effective while others don’t. Following is an overview of preventing against cyber-crime.
- Strong Password: The journey to prevent yourself from cyber-attacks start by choosing a strong password. When hacker attack your computers or online accounts like email accounts, the first thing they do I crack your password by different hacking algorithms (Walker 88). The password should be a combination of characters and numbers. Hackers try different combinations of characters and numbers when they are trying to hack a password. That is why the unique combination of characters and numbers and the length of password matters a lot.
- Don’t visit bad websites: It’s the same mechanism that you should use in your ordinary life, stay out of bad neighborhoods. Do not visit website that you are doubtful about that could ask for identity information and other personal information. There are many website offering free downloads of expensive software. You should not visit them as they have their hacking codes hidden in such download that could take control of your computer.
- Use reliable anti spyware and malware software: Be sure to buy reliable software when it comes to preventing your electronic device from external attacks. In my opinion Norton, McCafé and Avast are some the best examples of protections against computer viruses and Trojans etc.
- Keep a copy of your files: Always keep your files in two separate places. I keep mine on my computer and my Google Drive. So if something happens, you have a copy saved. In my opinion online storages like Google Drive are the best solution keep a copy of one’s electronic files. They have a limited storage of 15 GB available free but extra space can be bought which is not that expensive.
- Use an offline computer: if you have a list of different passwords in one document, do not save the file on a computer that is connected to the internet. Instead have a computer that you never connect to the internet and save such sensitive information on it.
- Hardware security: Reliable networking devices like routers and firewall can help prevent against cyber-crime. Now a days almost everyone who has a broadband has a Wifi router installed. This must be from a reliable company. Wifi security is must because anyone who can connect to your Wifi, could try to access other devices that are connected to the Wifi. Asus, D-link and Tenda are some of the networking hardware manufactures whom you can trust to be reliable.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of Software
IPR of software has become a great issue in the recent times as cyber-criminals might violate these rights and hack into the software and make it usable without proper authorization from the developer. The economic growth of countries may be dependent on protecting software copyrights (Chang 288). When the cyber-criminals observe that they can hack a software with less amount of resources while the return is great in terms of financial gains, they would try to hack the software and sell hacked copies to others.
The level of protection of IPR depend on the type of social system we live in. For example a democratic system where there is rule of law, IPR would be protected by law. On the other hand if there is a totalitarian system with the rule of man, there would be violations of IPR.
Cyber-crime is a profitable industry. This is why there would always be people interested in profiting from it. The onus to act against it is upon everyone including the governments, the software development companies, organizations and the end users. We must not let go of the ethical standards and say no to any mean that cybercriminals can use to voluntarily or involuntarily benefit from us. Governments should introduce tough laws to prevent the spread of cyber-crime. Software development companies can price their software realistically so that the end users can afford it and buy it from the actual owner and not some cybercriminal.