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Cybercrime and Online Fraud

By Dru Haynes - 22nd October 2020

The term ‘cybercrime’ refers to crime carried out online and usually involves stealing your confidential information. This can be done through your computer/laptop, tablet, smart TV, games console and/or smartphone – basically, anything connected to the internet. 

Unlike most other crimes, online fraudsters and cyber criminals never come into contact with their victims. Committing crime online allows someone to hide their identity and location, which is sometimes thousands of miles away, making it extremely difficult for the police to catch and charge them. Those who commit cybercrime are often well-organised and believable. They look to exploit vulnerabilities to steal passwords, data or money. The most common cyber threats include:

  • Hacking - when someone breaks into your computer system (a bit like breaking into your house by finding a different way in other than through the front door).
  • Phishing - you receive an email that pretends to be from an authority you recognise - maybe your bank, TV Licensing, an offer of a tax refund – and you’re asked to fill in your password or personal information (address, telephone number or other personal data). 
  • Malicious software (often known as ‘malware’) – programmes designed to cause damage to your computer, server or network. Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware and spyware are all examples of ‘malware’. 

The internet is now part of our everyday lives, especially in the present climate, and it makes a lot of things much easier but it is important to keep in mind some general safety tips when you’re online to make sure you stay safe to avoid falling victim to cybercrime. Here are some things you can do to stay safe online:

  • Make sure your computer has at least a standard firewall and regularly updated antivirus protection. 
  • If you receive strange emails in your inbox, don’t open them — delete them straight away! Remember: if an offer seems too good to be true then it often is — be vigilant.
  • Change your password regularly, have different passwords for each site you visit and never give your password to anyone else.
  • Set up a block or filter for any junk/spam mail in your personal or work email account.
  • Make sure you use trusted providers when you shop online. For example, do your research if you’re booking a holiday over the internet to make sure the company is legitimate.
  • Only ever use secure websites when you’re doing your online shopping or checking your bank account — lookout for the padlock symbol in your search bar.
  • If you have children – the reputable internet providers will give you the option to activate child safety features in your internet browser to help protect your children from unsafe websites. Keep an eye on who your children are talking to in chat rooms and online. Talk to your children about internet safety or get advice from their school.

The following slides below are taken from the recent Northumbria Police cybercrime workshop CAST members were kindly invited to – please take a look. For more information on staying safe online check out these websites. 

Phishing Advice-1
Protecting Devices-1
Recovering Accounts-1

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