Cyber Criminal Activity

Drawing upon existing literature, cybercrime encompasses a broad spectrum of offenses many of which are linked to traditional crime activities supported by digital technology (Broadhurst, 2006).). Cybercrime is a relatively new crime, but a tremendous threat to today’s digital society. Whether purely digital crimes or traditional crimes enhanced by the use of digital technology, cybercrime is increasingly a significant criminal activity around the world. Notably, despite the growing trend and significant investments by governments and the private sector to tackle the issue of cybercrime, the crime is inherently rooted in the society with multiple impacts. Consistently, and recognizing the strategic policy consequences in resource application to confront cybercriminal activities, we first analyze the various components of cybercriminal activities. We then explore the collective impacts on resources both financial and personnel as well as the necessary education requirements, and preventive strategies to reduce the impact of computer and network intrusions. 

Components of Cybercriminal Activity

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Broadly defined, cybercrime encompasses a wide range of illegal and criminal activities executed using computers and information technology (Antonescu & Birău, 2015). The advances in information communication technologies and specifically the internet infrastructure provide a conducive environment for cybercriminals to advance their illegal activities. Virtually, cybercrime involves trespassing, theft of data and information or causing harm. Cybercriminals gain unlawful control of the victim’s property and information, compromising or depriving the victims’ access to their personal data. The criminals may be working alone or in groups and often difficult to track. In the United States, data breaches are an ever-increasing problem affecting tens of millions of individuals and companies as well as government agencies. Statistics indicate tha, in 2016 the U.S. was victim to 28 percent of internet attacks globally, followed by Netherlands and Germany. In August 2017, a survey indicated that the United States was exposed to 32 percent of cybercrime activities (“U.S. consumers and cybercrime,” n.d). Generally, the figures demonstrate the way cyber crime has changed and indicates that it keeps on evolving with cyber fraud being the most commonly experienced offense.

Cybercrime attacks represent a growing challenge to developed and emerging economies. Understanding cybercrime and its components can help individuals, corporations, and institutions protect themselves against security breaches. Drawing upon existing literature, one of the major components of cybercriminal activities is the improper use of tools and software (Littlejohn & Cross, 2008). Some of the tools used by criminals include emails, spyware, and Trojan horses with key loggers and phishing emails to hack into computers and extract data and information. Criminals also use remote access tools to access and steal data remotely from unsuspecting victims. The other component of cybercriminal activity is impersonation, where criminals hide behind fake IDs to extract information. The criminals sometimes use legitimate-looking email addresses posing as corporate or institutions and convince individuals to give out their information. Another component of cybercriminal activities is vulnerability. Without the proper anti-virus software, firewalls, and secure passwords, cybercriminals exploit this weakness to obtain personal data and information. 

The Collective Impact on Resources both Financial and Personnel

In a globalized economy, cybercrime attacks represent a growing challenge that is hard to ignore. The very concept of cybercrime involves illegal activities supported by the internet and information technology, but is a more specific way. The global environment, which encompasses both financial and non-financial dimensions, suffers extremely harmful consequences due to cybercriminal activities. Drawing upon literature focusing on the impact of cybercrime on emerging economies, it is evident that cybercriminal activities have several impacts on resources. More specifically, Antonescu and Birău (2015) examined the impact of cybercrime on economical disruption, psychological disorder, and attacks on national security. The negative impact of cybercrime on business is determined by the direct consequences of cybercriminal activities that allows unauthorized access to information and manipulation Cybercrime allows criminals to take advantage of absolute control and deprive the company off their information. The economical impact of cybercrime is propagated when criminals manipulate data or information acquired to deprive the company of their financial benefits. Sometimes, the criminals sell this data to other people who compromise the financial benefits of the company. Another way that cybercrime affects the economical aspect of a business is when criminals use technological manipulations to shut down the online operations of a company. As Das and Nayak (2013) notes, PayPal and MasterCard have been victims of such attacks and although PayPal did not experience total shutdown, other businesses have not been lucky.

The impact of cybercriminal activities on personnel is extensive. For instance, as Das and Nayak highlighted, the development of e-commerce has also seen the emergence of a special form of cybercriminal activities targeting the consumers. These criminals often target people who shop online and when they get this information, the impact is devastating from loss of funds to compromised privacy. When cybercriminals target employees in an organization, they are more likely to steal the identity of the employee and use it to target the company. In such a case, the result is that the employee may be accused of stealing company data and selling it to their competitors. Aside from affecting online consumers, cybercriminal activities have emotional impact onto its victims. For instance, when company employees fall victim to the criminal activities, apart from having problems with the company, this may affect their emotional well-being and that of their families and friends.

Educational Requirements and Preventive Measures to Reduce the Impact of Cyber Crime

Alongside the many benefits, the internet exposes its users to various forms of cyber crimes. As Lapuh, Dimc, and Rozman, (2014) assert, the internet has given rise to certain types of criminal activities that did not exist before the internet. While it may be hard to prevent the cyber attacks, it is important to develop strategies to reduce the incidence of cybercriminal activities. Virtually, as Lapuh et al. elaborate, one of the reasons why people or organizations are exposed to the threat of cybercriminal activities is lack of knowledge or naivety in social engineering. In terms of helping people not fall victims to cybercrime, one of the most effective ways is to provide training to employees about social engineering, phishing, and packet sniffing, which are some of the most popular methods used by criminals to advance their attacks. In schools, students should be taught how not to fall into the traps of cybercriminals and not to give out personal information because it can be used to target their parents. Along with that, it is important to understand that not all cybercriminals advance attacks with the aim of getting financial benefits (Árpád, 2013). Several motivation factors drive young people to become hackers. In such a case, schools should teach students the consequences of cybercrime and the consequences associated with the criminal activity as well as the impact of the activity. Along with education, the other way to prevent and reduce the impact of cybercrime is to enhance the IT security measures (Geetha & Phamila, 2016). Business organizations should always have up-to-date antivirus software installed in all their workstations and servers. The antivirus software is installed to help detect, remove, and protect the computers from malware coming from the internet or external storage devices. The other strategy is to have a reliable backup for critical company data. Usually, after an attack by cybercriminals, recovery involves restoring data that is necessary to ensure the smooth operation of the company. Having reliable and secure backups of data is vital and ensures that the company recovers after an attack.  

Cybercrime is a fast growing area of crime. Majority of the traditional criminals are now exploiting the speed, convenience, and anonymity provided by technological advancement to commit multiple criminal activities without the limitation of geographical location or the fear of being caught on the act. Unfortunately, what looks like a lucrative business activity for the cybercriminals has several devastating impacts on the economy and the personnel. Apart from the m loss of business profits, cybercriminal activities also have the ability to affect the personnel as well as the consumers who are currently a major target, especially with the evolution of e-commerce business. Importantly noted, although cybercrime cannot be completely eliminated, various strategies can be used to reduce the impact of the crime. Such strategies include education and IT security measures to help shield individuals and organizations from cybercrime attacks.  

References

“U.S. consumers and cybercrime.” (n.d). Statista. Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/topics/2588/us-consumers-and-cyber-crime/

Antonescu, M., & Birău, R. (2015). Financial and Non-financial Implications of Cybercrimes in Emerging Countries. Procedia Economics and Finance, 32, 618-621.

Árpád, I. (2013). A Greater Involvement of Education in Fight Against Cybercrime. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83, 371-377.

Broadhurst, R. (2006). Developments in the global law enforcement of cyber-crime. Policing, 29(3), 408-433.

Das, S., & Nayak, T. (2013). Impact of cybercrime: issues and challenges. International Journal of Engineering Sciences & Emerging Technologies, 6(2), 142-153.

Geetha, S., & Phamila, A. V. (2016). Combating security breaches and criminal activity in the digital sphere. Hershey, Pennsylvania: IGI Global.

Lapuh, B. J., Dimc, M., Rozman, D., & Sladoje, J. A. (2014). Raising awareness of cybercrime – the use of education as a means of prevention and protection. Proceedings, 281-284.Littlejohn, S. D., & Cross, M. (2008). Scene of the Cybercrime. Burlington: Elsevier Science corporations

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