Cyber crime and on-line safety advice
For advice, help and support on how to reduce the risks of being a victim of cyber crime.
What is cyber crime?
Cyber crime is an umbrella term used to describe two closely linked, but distinct ranges of criminal activity. It can be split into two broad categories:
- Cyber-dependent crimes (or 'pure' cyber crimes) are offences that can only be committed using a computer, computer networks or other forms of information communications technology (ICT). An example of a cyber-dependent crime is gaining unauthorised access into someone's computer network, this can also be called 'hacking'.
- Cyber-enabled crimes (such as fraud, the purchasing of illegal drugs and child sexual exploitation) can be conducted on or offline, but online may take place at unprecedented scale and speed.
Examples of cyber crime include:
- Unauthorised access - this involves gaining access into someone's computer network without their permission, and then taking control and/or taking information from other people's computers. Examples may include accessing the secure area on the school's computer network and looking for test paper answers or trying to change test scores.
- Making, supplying or obtaining malware (malicious software), viruses, spyware, botnets and Remote Access Trojans is illegal. These programmes allow criminals to get into other people's computers to carry out illegal activities. 'Pranking', by remotely accessing a friends computer when they don't know you are doing it and messing around is still illegal.
- Carrying out a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack or 'booting'. A DDoS attack is an attempt to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with internet traffic from multiple sources. 'Online service' could be a large website or an individual internet user. Booting someone offline whilst playing online games may seem like a harmless joke, but is still illegal.
Common cyber threats for consumers / the public
- Phishing: bogus emails asking for security information and personal details
- Webcam manager: where criminals takeover your webcam
- File hijacker: where criminals hijack files and hold them to ransom
- Keylogging: where criminals record what you type on your keyboard
- Screenshot manager: allows criminals take screenshots of your computer screen
- Ad clicker: allows a criminal to direct a victim's computer to click a specific link
- Ransomware is a growing cyber threat to both individuals and businesses. It is a type of malware that locks your computer or mobile device and encrypts your files. When this happens the only way you can get access to your files is to pay a ransom. If you're a victim of ransomware - do not pay. There is no guarantee you will get your files back.
Common cyber threats for businesses
- Hacking. This is the primary method for infiltrating networks. Through the injection of specialist software, hackers seek to gain unauthorised access to computer networks and systems and take administrative control of these.
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks.
- Ransomware. This is a growing cyber threat to both individuals and businesses. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks your computer or mobile device and encrypts your files. When this happens the only way you can get access to your files is to pay a ransom. If you're a victim of ransomware - do not pay. There is no guarantee you will get your files back.
How do I report on-line fraud?
Action Fraud is the UK's national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre. They provide a central point of contact for information about fraud and cyber crime.
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The No More Ransom offers decryption keys for many different types of ransomware, advice on protecting yourself from ransomware and what to do if you're a victim.