Spotting & Avoiding Cybercrime

Spotting & avoiding cybercrime

Technical innovation can be applied for social good, but just as readily for unethical ends. This is unmistakable of cybercrime than of perhaps any other crime area. And cybercriminals are also getting more enterprising. Spotting and avoiding cybercrime is doable, however, not least because there’s a huge policing infrastructure safeguarding us. 

Cybercrime: institutional response

As per the Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), cybercrime is becoming more pushy and assaultive. This can be witnessed across diverse forms of cybercrime, such as data breaches, high-tech crimes, and sexual extortion.

Cybercrime is a cancerous problem for countries, EU Member States included, the majority of which have internet infrastructure well developed and payment systems are online.

However, not just financial data, but data more generally, is a key target for cybercriminals. As a result, the number and frequency of data breaches are fast rising, which is paving the way for more cases of fraud and extortion.

Malware proliferating: Dream of the unmitigated rascals

The thoroughgoing range of opportunities that cybercriminals have sought to use is impressive. These crimes include:

  • Using botnets—networks of devices (malware-infected) without their users’ knowledge—to transmit viruses that gain illicit remote control of devices, pilfer passwords and cripple anti-virus protection;
  • Bringing about “back doors” on jeopardy devices to allow the theft of money and data, or remote access to the devices to beget botnets;
  • Occasioning online fora to trade hacking expertise;
  • Bulletproof hosting and creating counter-anti-virus services;
  • Laundering traditional and virtual currencies;
  • Pulling off online fraud, such as through online payment systems, carding and social engineering
  • Various forms of online child sexual exploitation, including the dispensation online of child sexual abuse live-streaming, and the dispensation online of child sex-abuse materials and the live-streaming of child sexual abuse
  • The online hosting of operations concerning the sale of weapons, false passports, counterfeit and cloned credit cards, and hacking services, and drugs.

High-tech crimes

Malware, or malicious software, worms in and gains control over a computer system or a mobile device to steal precious information or damage data. There are diverse malware types, and they can supplement each other when performing an attack.

  • A botnet (short for robot network) is composed of computers communicating with each other across the Internet. A command and control centre directs them to send spam, mount distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks and carry off other crimes.
  • A rootkit is an omnium-gatherum of programmes that enable administrator-level ingress to a computer or computer network, thus permitting the attacker to gain root or favoured access to the computer and likely other machines on the same network.
  • A worm duplicates itself over a computer network and carries off malicious actions sans guidance.
  • A trojan purports to be or is implanted within a legitimate programme. However, but it is designed for malicious purposes, such as spying, stealing data, deleting files, carrying out DDoS attacks and expanding a botnet,
  • A file infector infects executable files (for instance, .exe) , overwriting or inserting infected code that hinders them.
  • A backdoor/remote-access trojan (RAT) gains ingress into a computer system or mobile device remotely. Another piece of malware may install it. It gives close to total control to the attacker, who can carry out a diverse range of actions, not limited to:
    • Monitoring actions
    • Logging keystrokes
  • Executing commands
  • Returning files and documents to the attacker
  • Taking screenshots
  • Ransomware prevents users from accessing their devices and insists that they pay a ransom via certain online payment methods to reclaim access. A variant, police ransomware, deploys law enforcement symbols to render the ransom message authoritative.
  • Scareware is an ersatz anti-virus software that purports to scan and find malware/security threats on a user’s device so that they will pay to have it removed.
  • Spyware is installed on a computer sans its owner’s knowledge to monitor their activity, transmitting the information to a third party.
  • Adware shows advertising banners or pop-ups that include code to track the user’s internet behaviour.

Cybercrime prevention tips

Use Strong Passwords

Use different user ID/password combinations for diverse accounts and avoid jotting them down. Make the passwords more complex by combining letters, numbers, special characters (minimum ten characters in total) and change them periodically.

Secure your computer

  •  Activate your firewall

 The first line of cyber defence, firewalls block connections to unknown or ersatz sites, keeping out some types of viruses and hackers.

  •  Use anti-virus/malware software to head off viruses from infecting your computer by installing and periodically updating anti-virus software.
  •  Plug spyware attacks – stave off spyware from infiltrating your computer by installing and updating anti-spyware software.

Be Social-Media Savvy

Ensure your social networking profiles (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, MSN, etc.) are set to private. Check your security settings. Exercise caution over what information you post online. 

Fence off your Mobile Devices. Your mobile device is susceptible to viruses and hackers. Download applications only from trusted sources.

Install the latest operating system updates

Maintain your applications and operating system (e.g. Windows, Mac, Linux) au courant with the latest system updates. Turn on automatic updates to stave off potential attacks on older software.

Data protection

Use encryption for your most sensitive files including tax returns or financial records, make back-ups of all your important data periodically, storing it in another location.

Secure your wireless network

Wi-Fi (wireless) networks at home are susceptible to intrusion if they are not properly secured. Review and qualify default settings. Public Wi-Fi, or “Hot Spots”, are also sensitive. Duck conducting financial or corporate transactions on these networks.

Protect your e-identity

Be careful when submitting personal information such as your name, address, phone number or financial information on the Internet. Make sure that you’ve enabled privacy settings (e.g. when accessing/using social networking sites) or that websites are secure (e.g. when making online purchases).

Dodge being scammed

Consider well before you click on a link or file of unknown origin. Don’t be pressured by any emails. Ascertain the source of the message. Verify the source whenever in doubt. Never reply to emails that require you to verify your information or confirm your user ID or password. 

Call the right person for help

Don’t go OTT in panic! In case you are a victim, if you chance to see illegal Internet content (e.g. child exploitation) or if you suspect identity theft, a computer crime, or a commercial scam, report this to your local police. If you need assistance with maintenance or software installation on your computer, consult with your service provider or a certified computer technician.


The response of Law Enforcement agencies has been dynamic, thoroughgoing, and doggedly innovative. As in the case of Europol and collaborators tackling a botnet, the operational successes have been hugely satisfying. Large cybercriminals are being targeted with international partners. You, too, can take the minimum required precautions to protect your privacy.Should you still be needing assistance, however, Fast Action Refund ( would gladly help.

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