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Any illegal activity that is conducted through digital technology is a computer crime, often known as cybercrime. Computer crimes pose a growing threat to Americans. Last year, over 70% of U.S. citizens said they were afraid they could become a victim of cybercrime. Nearly 30% of citizens said that they had already been affected by data breaches.

In order to protect your data, you should know the top five most common cybercrimes.

1.   Computer virus. Computer viruses, known as malware, are the most common type of cybercrime. Viruses are electronic systems that are designed to ruin your device. This virus may be used to take control of your computer, tablet, phone, or other devices, giving the criminal full access to any of them. A virus could ruin your device causing it to shut down permanently.

2.   Data breaches/identity theft. Your data could be compromised through a data breach, giving the criminal everything they need to steal your identity. If a cybercriminal accesses your address, phone number, birth date, social security number, or other personal information, they may be able to open accounts in your name and access your money.

3.   Credit card fraud. In addition to traditional credit card fraud, there is electronic fraud. Credit card fraud can occur even when your card is not present. If you enter your credit or debit card number on an unsecured website, a cybercriminal may hack your account.

4.   Stolen passwords. A cybercriminal may have access to your bank account, credit card number, social security number and other personal information if they know or guess one of your passwords. Sharing passwords or having passwords that can be easily guessed, put you at a higher risk of crime. In addition, forgetting to log out of your account or saving your password on your computer makes your account easier to hack.

5.   Phishing. Phishing is a crime that uses encrypted links to gain information. Phishers send out thousands of enticing emails with hopes that you will click on the encrypted link. Once the link has been clicked, the cybercriminal has full access to your device and all the personal information it holds.

If you understand how cybercriminals get access to your information, you may be armed to protect yourself against cybercrime. The first step in protecting your data is being aware of the threat.

How do cybercriminals get caught?

Cybercriminals are especially difficult to catch because they can access your information for any location. What some computer criminals don’t know is that investigators can often track them using their IP address. An IP address is an electronic footprint that follows the hacker’s device and network wherever they go. All devices have IP addresses.

If the cybercriminal has found a way to hide or change their IP address, making it difficult for the police to find them, they may be caught sending money. Because most cybercriminals are monetarily motivated, they may get caught using your credit card number which should lead to an arrest.

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Kirk Obear, Attorney at Law
603 South 8th St
Sheboygan, WI 53081

Phone: 920-395-3004
Fax: 920-395-2202
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