Before delving deeper into finer aspects including tools and techniques to prevent being victims of such crimes, let’s first understand first what “cyber crimes” are in great depth.
Wikipedia defines cyber crimes as “a crime involving a computer and a network”. The computer is either used in the commission of the crime, or is the target of it.
Thus, cybercrimes are - "Offences committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm/ loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as internet, mobile phones etc”.
Different form of cyber-crimes include hacking, IPR infringement, DDoS, Slow Loris, sextortion, child pornography, financial frauds etc.
Basic Precautions to Prevent being Victims of Cyber Crimes:
1. Use a full-service internet security suite:
They provide real-time protection against existing and emerging malwares including ransom-wares and viruses, and thus protect your information when you go online.
2. Use strong un-breakable passwords:
Not creating complex, unbreakable password is a sin in the cyber world. Your passwords should have at least 15 characters, and be a combination of lowercase & uppercase letters, numbers and special characters.
Besides, you should never repeat your password across websites. Otherwise, data breach on one website, will impact your other online accounts too. You may also consider using a password manager to overcome password related hassles.
3. Keep your softwares updated:
Cybercriminals frequently use known exploits, or flaws in soft-wares to intrude systems. Patching those exploits and flaws helps plug-in the loopholes and therefore helps prevent cyber crimes especially hacking.
4. Manage your social media settings:
Most cyber crimes now a day, employ OSINT – Open Source Intelligence Techniques i.e, gathering data about potential victim before launching an actual attack. It helps cyber criminals in manifold ways including in convincing the victim of their genuineness, finding answers to common security questions like mother’s maiden name etc.
Therefore, you should limit the information you post on the social media sites. You may also like to run an audit to delete sensitive personal information from your profile and then tweak your social media settings to prevent exposure of sensitive data to strangers.
5. Strengthen your home network:
To strengthen your home network you may use Virtual Private Network. They encrypt all the traffic leaving your devices until it arrives at its destination. If cybercriminals ever manage to hack your communication line, they won’t intercept anything but the useless encrypted data. You should use VPN especially when on a public network like hotel or airport.
6. Talk to your children about the internet:
Teach your kids about how to use the internet safely and securely. They must know about various threats lurking out there in the virtual world like pedophiles. Assure your kids that you are there for them, and make sure that they will come to you, if they shall experience any difficulty online like stalking, bullying, sexting, harassment etc.
7. Keep an eye on the major security breaches:
You should keep a tab on the latest data breaches. There are several websites like https://haveibeenpwned.com and https://dehashed.com that can help you with the process. Once you find that your account has been compromised in a previous or recent data breach, change the associated passwords immediately.
8. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication:
Multi-Factor Authentication and Two-Factor Authentication are one of the simplest yet one of the most effective form of protection against account breaches. When a person employs all the three forms of authentication – What we Have (like ATM card), What we Know (like password) and What we Are (like iris scan, fingerprint scan) it’s called Multi-Factor Authentication. On the other hand, when two forms of authentication are used, it’s called 2 Factor Authentication or 2FA in short.
After enabling, MFA or 2FA even if user credentials are compromised, the hackers shall still require the other parameter like the code sent to the phone to intrude into the account. Therefore, you must enable MFA or 2FA whenever available.
Encrypt and Back-up your Most Important Data:
We all have some crucial sensitive information like medical information or irreplaceable family photos. You should have back-up for such data, by creating additional copies. These backups should ideally be duplicated as well, with one stored locally on an external hard drive only periodically connected to your primary computer, and one remote such as in a cloud storage system.
Click with caution:
Don’t click on any link in messages/ emails/ chats etc that come from strangers. The link can take you to a phishing website that shall subsequently capture your private information, such as user names and passwords, or it could download malwares onto your device.
Even if the message is from someone you know in real life, be cautious. Some viruses replicate and spread through email, so look for signs of malware in messages.
Even if you consider yourself tech savvy, you still need to remain proactive. The threats actors are emerging very rapidly. You should also monitor your accounts periodically to look out for any probable issues like unauthorized money transfer.