If you’ve ever received a suspicious email, perhaps pretending to be from an African prince claiming he wants you to help him distribute his fortune across the world, you’ll know first-hand the forms cybercrime can take. In this case the scam is easy to see through, but it is a good example of just how easy it is to get involved in being a con artist in the digital world. Another example would be an attempt by unknown offenders to steal your login details, disguising an email to appear as if it is coming from your bank. Less easy to see through, and a step up in terms of sophistication.
Sadly, cybercriminals are evolving, and getting more advanced on a regular basis, begging the question as to just how safe the digital world is, and what steps are being taken to protect the legal users. The good news is that Internet security is advancing just as fast as the criminals, with enormous steps being taken to keep the bad guys at bay. Online casino games, for example, use encryption software that is next to impossible to crack, and this makes them incredibly safe and secure. The bad news is that finding a way around the powerful security systems is a hacker’s forte.
It’s Easier Than You Think
If you wanted to become a criminal in the real world some serious preparation would be needed. You would probably have to invest in a gun, work on being intimidating, and even be prepared to put your life on the line. Being a cybercriminal, on the other hand, would take no more than having a computer, a connection to the Internet and a bit of time on your hands. It’s no wonder then that the number of active cybercriminals is skyrocketing.
On the other hand, there is a very good chance that you’re a cybercriminal, and didn’t even fully grasp it. You don’t think so? Have you ever copied music from a friend? Traded a few movies or series? If you have, the fact of the matter is that you’ve broken the law, and are a cybercriminal. A small transgression perhaps, but still outside the established laws of the digital world. The point being that it is extremely easy.
According to the FBI cybercrime division’s Gordon Snow, it’s easier than ever before. He made this statement recently at the University of Washington, but was referring to cybercrime of a much higher level than simply sharing a few movies among friends. The fact of the matter is that committing crimes online is not just easier because malicious software has become easier to use, but because the criminals involved are likewise more professional than ever before. Plus, there is very little risk involved.
Of course, there is far more to the world of digital crime than simply phishing and malware. More advanced criminal activities are becoming increasingly common, requiring an impressive level of skill and coordination on the part of the hackers involved. Bitcoin suffered a major setback recently after a South Korean bitcoin exchange was hacked, with dire results for the cryptocurrency. It came as a shock to many, given how much the security around cryptocurrency was touted. Blockchain is the system used to protect cryptocurrency transactions, and is said to be all but uncrackable.
The problem is that although the transactions are nearly uncrackable, the websites that allow for exchange on either end of the transactions are not yet so well protected. Spotting the weakness, hackers quickly took advantage. The theft itself was relatively small, and was far quicker than might be assumed, demonstrating once again how easy a crime of this nature is to commit, given the right circumstances.
Major steps are being taken to curb cybercrime, and there is no question that security software is better than ever before. But the truth is that crimes of this nature are most likely to succeed due to the human factor, meaning that the best prevention is those being targeted simply not falling for the con.
Phishing scams work only if the target falls for a false email, and enters information where it does not belong. Likewise, downloading and installing files from a questionable online source is also ill advised, and can be avoided simply by being careful. So the best defence is a good education, and keen awareness of the risks involved.
It need not also be pointed out that changing passwords regularly is a good move, as well as making use of two-step verification methods offered by many online establishments. The more barriers between cybercriminals and your online accounts, the better. Thankfully, average users are almost never the targets of well-orchestrated attacks from professional hackers. Instead, the average person need only worry about not being careless with personal details. Keeping virus protection software up to date is still certainly not a bad idea though!