Self-Help / Slideshow / Social Media / Technology

3 Cyber Crimes to Be Leary Of

Billions of dollars are lost every year from repairing systems hit by attacks.

Crime is crime, even if it occurs over the Internet, which is known as cyber crime. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), cyber crime involves hacking personal computers, laptops and wireless devices. A way ones information can become compromised, is with the use of malicious code. But, what kinds of hacks should I be on the lookout for? Not to worry, read on for common cyber crimes that you can be effected by.

Keeping Your Eyes Peeled

We love the convenience of our devices, but they can make our lives complicated if they become hacked. If you are in the dark about how to protect your gadgets, you are not alone, as billions of dollars are lost every year from repairing systems hit by attacks. So, here are three signs that your information may be under attack.

1. Crime is a short, five letter word, but if your systems are hacked by a criminal it can take quite a while to recover from it. This is precisely why the FBI is hard-at-work with educating citizens about the potential dangers associated with the use of peer-to-peer systems (P2P) over the Internet. What is a peer-to-peer system? Peer-to-Peer networks allow users connected to the Internet, to link their computers with other computers around the world.

That’s not all: These networks are established for the sole purpose of sharing files. In a round-about way, users of peer-to-peer networks install free software on their computers which allows them (A) to find and download files located on another peer-to-peer user’s hard drive and (B) to share with those other users files located on their own computer. The problem with all of this is, sometimes information-sharing systems have been used to engage in illegal activity. Just in case you are wondering, some common crime linked to peer-to-peer systems is child exploitation, obscenity and copyright infringement.

2. Remember this: Social networking sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are on top of their game right now, but they also can attract a lot of scammers. According to Symantec Corporation, the makers of Norton Antivirus, users of social media should take precaution when clicking on shortened URLs (Uniform Resource Locator). Why? Plain and simple, you never know where you’re going to go since the URL hides the full location. Furthermore, by clicking on a link like this, it can direct you to your intended site or, much worse, one that installs malware on your computer. Keep in mind that URL shorteners has its purposes, but take care to protect against viruses and spyware.

3. Smishing, not to be confused with phishing is yet another cyber crime. Smishing involves the use of cell phone text messages, to acquire all types of personal information. For example, scammers swear there’s an issue with your debit or credit card and that there’s a freeze on your account. What happens next is you are given a telephone number to call or a Web site to log into, where you will be asked to provide personal identifiable information; this information can include your bank account number, PIN or credit card number, which is said by the criminal to be the solution to this problem. Smishing is good for criminals, because it gets your cold, hard cash into their hands. However, it can be bad for you, for obvious reasons.

How can I not be taken by a smishing scam? For one, you can refuse to give out personal and/or financial information to unknown parties. Also, never click on any embedded Internet links in unsolicited text messages, because you don’t know the true source. So, to sum smishing up, it is a combination of SMS texting and phishing.

In a Perfect World…

No time is the right time to get snookered. We must use the computer and certain other devices out of convenience, but we have to do our part also and know before we click.

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Web Links:

http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/computer-intrusions;

http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/peertopeer;

http://us.norton.com/yoursecurityresource/detail.jsp?aid=social_media_scams;

http://us.norton.com/security_response/malware.jsp;

http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/frauds-from-a-to-z;

http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2010/november/cyber_112410;

http://www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/phishing-symptoms.aspx.

-Kimberly Williams

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