Written by: Angie Kung
Cyber crime is constantly advancing at an alarming rate. As we shift to virtual meetings and working from home, it’s important to be aware of the dangers lurking behind our screens.
What is cyber crime?
Cyber crime is any criminal activity that either targets or uses a computer, computer network or a networked device. It can take many forms such as identity theft, hacking, phishing, malware, harassment, fraud and more. One of the first cyber crime incidents occured in 1988 with a man named Robert Worm, a 23-year old Cornell University graduate.
Worm had a passion for computer science and excelled in it to the point where he was able to create the very first cyber worm. This malware program delayed essentially every internet-connected computer, from military bases to universities like UC Berkeley. After Worm was identified, he was tried under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. Worm’s impact emphasized the importance of cyber security and demonstrated how vulnerable our devices are and emphasized the importance of cybersecurity.
How does it happen?
Using public wifi is one way to make yourself an easy target. Public wifi is open to anyone, giving hackers an opportunity to dig through any information you open and plant viruses. To stay safe while outside, make sure to disconnect your Bluetooth from any unfamiliar devices and shut off your wifi to prevent it from automatically connecting it to a public server. Instead, try to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to ensure a private connection and switch to using cellular data if possible.
With the rise of social media, much of our personal information is publicized. The password to someone’s account could lie in a birthday post or the name in their bio. Many people use a combination of their name and birthday as a password because it’s easy to remember. However, having a strong password can save you from being a hacker’s next victim. It prevents people from using your account under your name or leaking private matters. Use a combination of numbers (avoid an obvious set such as “12345”), special characters (#,%,!), a mix of lower and uppercase letters and have a maximum of 10 characters.
Clicking and opening suspicious links are a breeding ground for cyber crime. It’s common for hackers to disguise themselves as promising sites that appeal to the viewer. It can be present in other forms of cyber crime such as phishing with emails that end up in the spam folder. Always be cautious of anything you open up and note the URL that appears. An “https” contains a SSL certificate, indicating the browser is secure and can be seen in the form of a green lock.
The effects of cyber crime can be serious and last a considerable amount of time. Prevent cyber crime from happening in your own life by using safe networks or hotspots, being cautious of where you browse, refraining from sharing personal information that can later be used against you, and taking any other necessary precautions. These simple steps can go a long way in securing yourself from cyber crime.