what is cybercrime and its types?

what is cybercrime and its types, is a question all organizations should be paying attention too. Cybercrime is at an all-time high, costing individuals and organizations billions of dollars yearly. The advancement of technology and the accessibility of smart technology means there are various access routes for cybercriminals to exploit.

Criminals exploit the personal information of internet users for their gain. Some go as far as diving into the dark web to purchase and sell illegal materials and services. These criminals don’t only attack individuals; they also target governments by gaining access to classified data.

what is cybercrime and its types?: Definition

In simple terms, cybercrime is defined as an unlawful action against an individual or an organization by using a computer, its systems, and its applications (both online or offline). However, the act is only considered to be a cybercrime if it happens intentionally, and not accidentally.

Most, but not all, cybercrime is carried out by hackers who want to make money. Some cybercriminals are highly organized; they make use of advanced technologies and methods to commit this offense. The advancement of technology has made it possible for new kinds of cybercrime.

what is cybercrime and its types?: Differences between cybercrime and traditional crime

One obvious difference is the use of a computer device. However, using only technology will not be enough to fully distinguish various realms of criminal activity.

Criminals don’t need a computer device to carry out fraud. Criminal activities such as child trafficking and pornography, identity theft, or privacy violation all existed before the “cyber” prefix.

Cybercrime, particularly those carried out using the internet, shows an extension of criminal behavior already existing together with some illegal activities.

In most cases, cybercrime involves an attack on the information of a person, organization, or government entity. Even though the attacks don’t cause physical harm, they occur on the personal or corporate virtual body, which contains data about people or institutions online.

According to The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), cybercrime is divided into three categories:

  • Crimes that target the computing device, for instance, gaining access to a network.
  • Crimes that use the computer as a weapon, for instance, carrying out a denial-of-service (DoS) attack.
  • Crimes that make use of the computer as an accessory to criminal activities, such as, storing illegally obtained information in the computer.

what is cybercrime and its types?: 3 Examples of recent cybercrimes and what happened

1. DDOS attack on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

This is one of the most recent cybercrimes. It was a surprising attack that occurred on March 15, 2020, in Washington, D.C. The agency first noticed a higher amount of activity hitting their servers. Within a few hours, there were millions of hits.

Even though this number of hits was huge, the attackers could not successfully take down the systems of the department. The department has carried out a full investigation and remains fully functional.

2. DNS hijacking on the UK Cyber Security Agency

The National Cyber Security Centre experienced a cyber-attack on the international campaign of domain name system (DNS) infrastructure. This attack happened just some days after the US Department of Homeland Security gave out an emergency directive to government agencies to prevent more attacks.

The US authorities asked agencies to remain alert because attackers could employ compromised credentials to edit the location where the domain name resources of an organization and redirect traffic to attacker-controlled infrastructure and gather important encryption certificates for domain names of the company.

3. Attack on the World Health Organization (WHO)

In another attempted security breach, cybercriminals targeted the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 13, 2020. The attackers made a fake website to imitate the login screen of WHO employees. They successfully stole the passwords of employees. Right after the website went live, it was exposed as fraudulent.

Experts suspect that the attack was carried out by a group of hackers referred to as DarkHotel. This group saw WHO as the perfect target, particularly while the whole world was experiencing a pandemic.

WHO has played an important role in the pandemic and has data, reports, and other sensitive information that are vital in responding to the pandemic. This hacking incident shows how ruthless cybercriminals can be when it comes to selecting their victims.

what is cybercrime and its types?: 5 Most common types of cybercrimes

1. Hacking

Hacking is an act carried out by gaining access to a computer system without the knowledge or permission of the owner. Hackers are mostly computer programmers, who have a good understanding of computers and commonly misuse this knowledge for illegal acts.

Some organizations hire these computer experts to detect flaws in their security systems and help repair them to prevent any breach. They are known as white hat hackers. They break into network systems to inform owners of flaws.

Read What hacking types are commonly used? to get an indepth understanding on hacking.

2. Cyberstalking

This kind of cybercrime has to do with harassment online. The user is usually subjected to various messages and emails. In most cases, cyberstalkers make use of social media, websites, and search engines to intimidate their victims and cause fear. Most cyberstalkers know their victim and intend to make them feel scared or concerned for their safety.

Interested in learning more? view our blog How to Stop Cyberstalking

3. Illegal content

This involves criminals sharing prohibited content that can be seen as highly distressing. This kind of content includes, but is not limited to, sexual activity between adults, violent videos, and videos of criminal activity.

Illegal content can also include content that advocates terrorism-related actions and child exploitation. Such content can be found both on the everyday internet and the dark web.

Read more about Illegal content

4. Denial-of-Service (DOS) attack

DOS attacks flood computer systems with a lot of information that can cause servers that cyber businesses rely on to crash. Such an attacker sends a lot of false traffic to a website; this overloads the server and causes the website to malfunction or crash.

Read More about DOS attacks

5. Phishing

Phishing attacks involve hackers sending harmful email attachments or links to users to gain access to their computers or accounts. Most of these emails are not flagged as spam. Users can be tricked with messages asking them to change their password or update their billing information.

This attack is mostly done by email spoofing. The malware will install itself on your computer and steal private information. You can avoid a phishing scam in an email message by keeping some things in mind.

Read More about Phishing


It appears that in our modern age of technology, cybercriminals are taking over our systems. It can take a company more than 200 days to detect a cyber-breach. You need to become informed so you can avoid such attacks from happening.

Educate yourself and others on the preventive measures you can take to protect yourself or your company. As an organization, you need to plan, train your employees on avoiding suspicious messages and links, and keep your backups up-to-date.

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