“The most compelling reason for most people to buy a computer for the home will be to link it to a nationwide communications network. We’re just in the beginning stages of what will be a truly remarkable breakthrough for most people — as remarkable as the telephone.” — Steve Jobs

Today’s generation could never have imagined in their wildest dreams about the world, ages before when there were no computers or any other technologies. Nowadays, every piece of information required is just a click away from everyone, which has been possible due to the invention of these powerful computers.

Who knew that the computers were just the beginning of this revolutionizing era that we are a part of. The way technology has shaped itself, it appears as if there’s no end to its development. But with great technology comes great responsibility, the responsibility to remain safe and protected from digitized criminals.

You guessed it right, I’m indeed talking about “CYBER CRIME”.

WHAT IS CYBER CRIME?

Cybercrime includes criminal activities carried out employing modern telecommunication networks such as the Internet. It is a way to cause physical or mental harm to a person, group or organization.

Cybercrime may threaten a person’s security and financial health and use them in performing criminal activities. This mode does not require the physical presence of the criminals, and they can execute this from a faraway place, sitting comfortably in front of their computer screens.

These crimes require the technical knowledge of the perpetrators. With the advancement of technology, cyber crimes have increased manifolds.

The primary impact of most of the cybercrimes is financial, and cybercrime can include many different types of profit-driven criminal activities, including ransomware attacks, emails, and Internet as well as identity fraud.

Cybercriminals make attempts to hack their victims’ financial accounts and personal data to commit what is popularly known as “credit card fraud”. Not only this, but a cybercriminal can easily intrude into someone’s networks, cloud storage, or systems and steal digitized data, thereby putting any organization’s assets at considerable risk.

CAUSES OF CYBERCRIME

Increasing cybercrime obliges us to ponder about what are its causes and what makes it more appealing to cybercriminals.

Starting from an essential point i.e., physical absence and anonymity. The real identity of a criminal can be very easily hidden in such crimes.

Reward to risk ratio is very high in cybercrime cases. Forces acting against such crimes are still technologically lagging as compared to people implementing the crime; thus, the risk of criminals getting caught is lowered.

Another temptation for criminals is the earnings to cost ratio, which is also soaring high. The technology and skills required for such acts can be easily availed and are cheap, but the profits of criminals are much higher than the cost. Just hacking into a single account can fetch cybercriminals a lot of money, resources, and information about the user, which can be used to extort said user.

MAJOR TYPES OF CYBER CRIMES

We can categorize cybercrime majorly into three types, namely-

  • CRIMES AGAINST INDIVIDUALS :

This includes cases that directly affect the victim like cyber harassment and stalking, distribution of child pornography, credit card fraud, human trafficking, spoofing, drug trafficking, identity theft, and online libel or slander.

  • CRIMES AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT :

When a crime is committed against the Government, it is considered as an attack on the nation’s sovereignty. Cybercrimes against Government include hacking, accessing confidential information, cyber warfare, cyber terrorism and pirated software. Such crimes are harmful to a nation’s security, as seen in many movies.

  • CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY :

Some online crimes occur against the computer or the server. These crimes include distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack,

hacking, virus transmission, computer vandalism, cyber and typosquatting, copyright infringement, and IPR violations.

“I feel sort of really aware of how the… online cyber world has begun to take over reality.”— Brad Paisley

HOW ARE CYBER CRIMES EXECUTED?

The first most attack of hacking was first documented in the 1970s when first computerized phones were becoming a target. Some tech-savvy people known as ‘phishers’ found a way around paying for long-distance calls through a series of codes.

Most of the cyber crimes are executed by individuals or small groups of criminals. Some large organized crime groups also take undue advantage of the Internet, and they find new ways to perform older crimes, treating cyber crime like a business, and forming global criminal communities. These communities share strategies, thus launching coordinated attacks. According to sources, these communities have an underground marketplace, popularly known as “The Dark Web” where they can sell and buy stolen information, illegal goods, and identities.

There was a time when hackers used a combination of systems to spread viruses and spam to capture email addresses and passwords. But now cybercriminals are using advanced technologies to capture even your personal information like name, age, payment card information, online activities, email addresses, and passwords.

A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of protected data to an unauthorized person. It is a security event in which the unauthorized person gets access to personal information through illegal ways and leaks that information.

Some common types of data breaches are:

Malware:

Malware is another type of virus which is used to interrupt or gain access to unauthorized servers, computers, or network. Malware can be a worm, Trojan, etc.

Password attacks:

Through this type of data breaches, the attackers target the passwords to get access to the network. They use multiple passwords to gain access to the user’s personal information. They keep on trying different passwords until it works.

Phishing emails:

Phishing emails are also used to gain access to personal information. A phishing email is sent on employee’s or user’s email and after clicking on that link or opening the email, the personal information becomes vulnerable through which attackers can get access to the entire network.

Denial-of-Service:

This is a common type of data breach in which a website is overwhelmed with requests that deny the access of other users to the sites.

“There are two kinds of people in America today: those who have experienced a foreign cyber attack and know it, and those who have experienced a foreign cyber attack and don’t know it.” — Frank Wolf

STEPS AND TECHNOLOGY ADVANCEMENT AGAINST CYBERCRIME

New technologies carry new security risks. And to reduce those new risks, advanced security measures are required in place.

Whenever an organization brings new technology, they need to train their employees on how to use it safely. Also, they must be sure to use a reliable cybersecurity service to assess the new technology before connecting it to their network. There is always a risk that untrained and unaware employees would use the latest technology carelessly, making a business susceptible to cyber-attack.

HOW TO FIGHT AGAINST CYBERCRIME?

As technology is becoming easily accessible to everyone, we can see people enjoying its benefits all around us. But we are unable to realize that our private data, which is confidential, maybe isn’t safe anymore. Thus it is vital to understand that we all are vulnerable to cybercriminals. It’s high time that we start taking individual steps towards the safety of our data. Preventive measures which can be helpful are :

  • Stay vigilant while browsing websites.
  • Never click on unfamiliar links or advertisements.
  • Ensure the website is safe before entering credentials.
  • Antivirus applications should be activated and updated.
  • Using strong passwords.
  • Reporting suspicious emails.

“As we’ve come to realize, the idea that security starts and ends with the purchase of a prepackaged firewall is simply misguided.” — Art Wittman

Cybercrime is growing proportionally with the growth and evolution of technology. We boast about living in the 21st century and how far we have come, but all of the technological development goes in vain if we cannot protect our privacy from such threats. Therefore, we must understand the depth to which cybercrime exists and prepare ourselves for an attack on our privacy.

Stay tuned for more blogs!

Arsh Kandroo, Team Technothlon 2020

Rahul Agarwal, Team Technothlon 2020

Technothlon is an international school championship organized by the students of IIT Guwahati. Technothlon began in 2004 with an aim to ‘Inspire Young Minds’

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