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Cybercrime takes place online, and new methods of committing the cybercrime keep emerging because criminals look for easier ways to steal from unsuspecting internet users. Individuals or groups of people commit crime. The crime has increased because more people use the internet to do their shopping, banking or social networking such as Facebook and Twitter (Watson 1).
Cybercrime is committed by criminals that operate as communities and share tools and strategies on how to commit a crime. The criminals steal individuals’ identities and money. Identithe ty theft involves stealing of another person’s personal information and impersonation. Identity thieves steal information such as social security numbers, employer numbers, name, and passport numbers among others.
The stolen information enables criminals to steal money especially bank or credit card details. It is difficult to track down cybercriminals because of the anonymity nature of the internet. Criminals hack computers and operate them from a far location.
However, because each country has different cybercrime laws it becomes complicated to prosecute or track criminals in a different country. Cybercriminals use various methods to steal individuals’ identity and money because it is easier and less risky than the conventional methods of stealing for instance bank robbery.
Phishing sites are fake websites criminals use to get personal information from internet users. Criminals send people the phishing sites as an attachment or link through emails. The user is tricked into opening the attachment or clicking on a link because it looks important.
Once they click the links or download attachments their personal information is stolen. Some phishing sites request users to enter personal information such as bank details, usernames and passwords. The users fall prey because the phishing sites look real and their personal information is stolen.
Criminals use malware to gain access to personal computers. They infect personal computers with malware. The malware enables them to steal personal information such as names, credit card, and bank account details. Using the stolen information the thieves are able to create a digital identity, and using it they can do anything that a user would do online and they succeed in committing cybercrime (Watson 1).
Botnet is “a collection of internet-connected PCs which have been infiltrated by malware and remote-controlled by the botnet owner” (Waterson 1). The computers infiltrated with malware are used to steal personal information from internet users and identities. The criminals use the botnets and control them from a central location to send out phishing mails. Information harvested by the criminals is organized and ready for use.
The Botnet controllers are an organized community and some sell the stolen identities and use the rest to steal money from people. The owner of the botnet engages in renting out the botnet to the cybercriminals. The cybercriminals work hard to increase their botnets through infection of new computers to look for more internet users and steal their identities (Watson 1).
Stealing money using the stolen identity
Criminals use the stolen identities in various ways such as stealing money from accounts or creating bank accounts among other things. Moreover, the stolen personal information can be used in buying commodities online.
The cybercriminals use mules to assist in transferring money from bank accounts so that the money can get into the cybercriminals’ hands. Armed with stolen bank account details a mule is able to help the cybercriminals steal money. The mule then engages in forwarding “the money into another bank account to which in turn the mule gets to keep a small percentage of that stolen money” (Waterson 1).
Cybercriminals use online payment channels to move money from an individual’s bank account and then to their accounts. There can be linking of these accounts to the debit cards and the money can now be withdrawn using these cards through ATMs.
On the other hand, there can be transferring of big amounts of money into a fake account established by cybercriminals and this money is instantly withdrawn before the banks become suspicious (Waterson 1).
Moreover, some cybercriminals hack email addresses and send emails to the people in the contact list informing them that he owner of the email is stranded therefore needs financial assistance. The unsuspecting recipients may lose money if they send because they will send the money to the identity thieves (Katie 1). Some cybercriminals steal money by sending people emails that claim they have won a certain amount of money.
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To claim the prize they are required to send their bank details to facilitate transfer to their bank accounts. Those who fall prey and send the details become victims often criminals who use the details to steal money from them. Some criminals send people spam mail and tell them they need help transfer a large amount of money, but they need the recipient of the email to give them bank details so that they can send the money to their bank accounts.
They can keep a portion of the money to entice them. A greedy unsuspecting user sends his or her bank details and his or her money is stolen. Some cybercriminals set up business scams and entice people to invest for high returns. People put funds in such online scams and after the criminals collect enough they pull down the websites and people lose their hard earned funds.
Protecting oneself from the identity thieves
Cybercrime is found to be a lucrative business, carried out by the organized criminal groups. Every person that uses the internet ought to ensure that they are protected by taking protective measures. One such measure is that the internet users need to be extremely careful when they click on the links found in their emails. Moreover, caution should be taken in regard to providing personal information, which is sensitive, online.
Such information includes the login details of the bank account. Users should know that their banks will never ask them personal information using an email and before filling in such information they should call to ascertain the authenticity of those emails. The users also need to be careful when posting personal information on the social media networks such as Facebook (Waterson 1).
The information users post on the social networks can be used by cybercriminals to recreate passwords that they can use to hack their accounts (Katie 1). They should also ensure that they keep changing their passwords often. Besides, they should be strong to avoid making it easy for criminals to guess them. Moreover, they should avoid using same passwords for different accounts like many users do (Katie 1).
Users should also scan USB and external disks to ensure they are not infected with malware that can be transferred to the computers and comprise they security online. They should also check if the website they use for banking is secure before they enter their login details. A secure website has a web address such as https:// but if it is http:// it is not secure.
Moreover, the internet users should make sure that they have the basic “anti-virus protection software” on their PCs (Waterson 1). They also need to make sure that their PCs are protected with extra “data protection software such as AOL DataMask, provided by SentryBay, which safeguards against key logging, phishing, screen captures, etc” (Waterson 1).
Cybercrime has increased in the recent past and become more complicated. Thieves are stealing individuals’ identity online and using it to steal money. The popularity of social networks has helped cybercriminals to gather information about people and use it to hack their accounts and steal usernames and passwords.
The stolen information is used to impersonate people or create ghosts that steal money from individuals’ bank accounts and credit cards. Some use the credit cards to shop and the bill is charged to the owner. Stealing of identity is simple as people can do it anonymously and finding them is hard.
The methods that cybercriminals use to steal money keep changing. Thus, internet users and organs that fight cybercrime ought to be on the lookout. The users must be made aware of the methods that cybercriminals use and sensitized on how to protect themselves from falling victims of cybercrime. The agents that deal with cybercrimes should strive to stay a step ahead of cybercriminals to protect internet users.
Katie, Leslie. Hackers find new ways to steal your identity. 20 Sep. 2010. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. < http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/hackers-find-new-ways-to-steal-your-identity/nQkMT/>.
Waterson, Dave. Cyber Criminals – How They Steal Your Identity and Your Money, 29 Apr. 2013. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. < http://dwaterson.com/2012/12/07/hello-world/>.