Cyber crimes are affecting the individuals at a fast pace irrespective of geographical boundaries. These crimes happen via computers and digital devices in order to extort money, further the illegal agendas, steal identities, aggrandize the power, purloin intellectual property and restrain the indomitable individuals, communities, and governments. Cyber crimes are also reported to have been used as the propaganda by many governments in order to take an edge over their competitors in different fields such as Commerce, industry, space missions and many others. One infamous example of cyber crime/cyber spying against own people in recent times is of the Pegasus virus controversy, where India is facing a lot of backlash after it was discovered that India was using the spyware to steal the private information of critical personalities including top-notch politicians and acclaimed businesspersons.
Major channels and activities that make you vulnerable to cyber attacks:
Following are the most common activities that help hackers and cyber criminals to launch their nefarious attacks on individuals, groups and governments.
- Online banking
- Online shopping
- Social networking (via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc)
- Online auction
- Online education
- Online games
- Online medication systems
- Audio & video communication (via Zoom, WhatsApp, Skype etc)
- Digitalization of government departments
The users all over the world are undertaking the above-mentioned activities for entertainment, business, personal and other purposes, making them vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Types and forms of cyber crimes:
Cyber crimes are being committed at horrendous speed across the world. According to Statista, hackers launch a cyber crime every 32 seconds. It implies that hackers and cyber criminals hack into information of users around 2,244 times a day. This shows how alarming the situation of cyber crimes is. The forms that cyber crimes take are touched upon below.
Phishing attacks are a kind of cyber crimes that are launched in the form of spam emails in order to steal important personal information such as log in details, credit/debit card details etc for extraction of money. The Daily Swig reported a phishing attack in 2020, when the personal details of 100,000 patients at the US healthcare provider Elara Caring were published online.
Ransom ware cyber crimes:
These attacks are carried out to hack into the systems of organizations to gain access to private information of the users. The attackers threaten to publish the important confidential data online if they are not paid certain amount of money. One infamous example includes the WannaCry ransomware attack on the Microsoft’s operating system in 2017.
Web application attacks:
Cyber criminals carry out these attacks by manipulating the input details of web application users, without being discovered. They keep spying on the online activities of those web application users, which is used to blackmail the users and other purposes. According to CDNetworks, application attacks were 800 times up in 2020 as compared to 2019.
IOT (internet of things) attacks are kind of new normal these days. These attacks occur on laptops, personal computers, mobile devices and other internet based tools. IOT attacks take many forms including denial of service attacks (DoS), botnets, physical attacks, and encryption attacks. IoT attacks rose in 300 times as compared to 2019, according to the World Economic Forum.
Cloud computing services and service providers are easing the way businesses and organizations operate across the world. However, the heavy reliance of cloud computing systems on internet has made them vulnerable to cyber crimes/attacks. Cloud servers come with their security protocols, yet the advanced tools used by the hackers are challenging those protocols. According to Varonis, the cloud computing attacks increased 630% in 2020.
The above-mentioned forms of cyber crimes are the most common ones and the other forms of cyber crimes include cyber stalking, cyber bullying, digital piracy, ATM fraud, money laundering, crypto jacking, electronic terrorism, vandalism and extortion via cyber channels.
Approaches for preventing cyber crimes/attacks:
Cyber criminals have become powerful due to the availability of hacking tools and information. However, some simple as well as complicated security protocols may aid to forestall such crimes.
Strong passwords are the most basic ways of securing the confidential data. The developed countries such as UK, USA, etc are using the concept of strong passwords for preventing cyber hacking attempts.
Firewalls come in the hardware as well as software form. They help to filter the malicious viruses and material that tries to get access into the laptops, PCs and other devices. Firewalls are the low-cost, easily available options for blocking cyber attacks.
Malware scanners aid in scanning the files and documents for malware and malicious codes including viruses, Trojan horses and worms. They are hardly a novelty now, and used around the world.
Antivirus programs are most commonly available free of cost and they can also be purchased. These programs assist in detecting, preventing and disarming malicious bugs from entering and corrupting the computers, mobiles phones, laptops etc. These programs come with auto-update options, which allow them to download the profiles of the newly discovered viruses and bugs.
Biometric authentication tools can be employed for ensuring identity of the person accessing confidential and private data. There are fingertip sensors; facial recognition and retinal scan tools to ensure the authentication.
Pro-tips to avoid being victims of cyber crimes:
- Stay away from suspicious websites while online surfing
- Individuals and people must not open spam emails/messages
- Do not share your credit/debit card details unnecessarily
- Never share personal information over phone or email
- Keep updating the software and operating systems
- Run regular virus scans
- Approach relevant authorities in case of cyber bullying, cyber stalking
Cyber crimes are on the rise and the best way to counter them is to be vigilant and increase spending on cyber security protocols, systems and tools. Gartner says that global cyber security spending is estimated to cross $150 billion by 2022. The Statistics by Gartner are reflective of the trend of increasing annual spending for preventing cyber crimes.