What Is Cybercrime? Types, Effects & Protection Best Practices - Tecbound Technology

What Is Cybercrime? Types, Effects & Protection Best Practices

Cybercrime in the modern, digital-first world has become an insidious problem for individuals and businesses. From phishing and business email compromise (BEC) to ransomware and identity theft, there are plenty of avenues for bad actors to choose from to carry out their malicious agendas. Before we elaborate on the best practices to fend off cybercrime, let’s first understand what cybercrime is, identifying different types of cybercrime and how it’s used against people and organizations today.

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime refers to criminal activities that utilize computers, networks and digital technologies to commit illicit acts or exploit vulnerabilities for various purposes. This type of criminal activity, conducted by anonymous hackers, can target individuals, organizations or a government. They can be acted upon by various malicious actions committed in the digital realm.

Cybercrime is driven by diverse motivations that range from financial gain and identity theft to hacktivism and state-sponsored activities. The allure of monetary profits often leads bad actors to engage in activities such as fraud, ransomware attacks and theft of financial information. State-sponsored actors may conduct cyber espionage for political or strategic advantages, while hacktivists seek to promote social or political agendas through disruptive online actions.

Additionally, the thrill of overcoming security measures, intellectual property theft and opportunistic attacks contribute to the multifaceted landscape of cybercrime. As technology continues to advance, combating cybercrime remains a critical challenge that requires ongoing efforts from law enforcement, cybersecurity professionals, businesses and individuals alike.

Let’s dive deeper and look into the various kinds of cybercrime.

What are the different types of cybercrime?

There are chiefly eight types of cybercrime. We’ve listed them out and elaborated on each one below.


Hacking is the act by an individual or an organization who manipulates or exploits computer systems, networks or software to gain unauthorized access. Often with the intent of extracting valuable information, causing disruption or achieving a specific objective, which is typically malicious. It encompasses a spectrum of activities, ranging from ethical hacking, conducted by security professionals to identify and fix vulnerabilities, to malicious hacking, where individuals or groups, known as black hat hackers, exploit weaknesses for personal gain, often involving financial motives, data theft or system disruption.

Additionally, hacktivism represents a form of hacking driven by ideological or political motivations, where individuals or groups leverage their technical skills to advance a cause or make a statement through digital means.


Phishing exploits human vulnerability through deceptive emails, spear phishing, smishing (SMS phishing) and vishing (voice phishing). Social engineering plays a crucial role in manipulating individuals to disclose sensitive information. Over the last few years, phishing attacks have escalated to alarming levels. In these attacks, cybercriminals send deceiving messages to trick users into providing sensitive information, like login credentials, or to launch malware on the users’ systems.

While most organizations are vigilant against phishing attacks, some still pass through their defences. This happens partly due to employees’ lack of awareness and use of sophisticated social engineering techniques by cybercriminals.


Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) designed to encrypt files on a victim’s computer or network, rendering them inaccessible. Perpetrators then demand a ransom, typically in cryptocurrency, in exchange for providing the decryption key or restoring access to the encrypted data.

This form of cyberattack aims to extort money from individuals, businesses or organizations by exploiting their reliance on digital data. Ransomware attacks often have severe consequences, causing financial losses, operational disruptions and reputational damage to the victims.

Identity theft and credential leaks

Identity theft refers to the fraudulent acquisition and use of an individual’s personal information, such as their name, social security number or financial details, intending to commit various forms of financial fraud or gain unauthorized access to resources. Cybercriminals use stolen identities to open fraudulent accounts, make unauthorized transactions or engage in other forms of cybercrime that can have severe financial and legal repercussions for the victim.

Credential leaks, on the other hand, involve the unauthorized exposure or release of login credentials, including usernames and passwords, often through data breaches or hacking incidents. Cybercriminals can exploit exposed credentials to gain unauthorized access to online accounts, compromising the security and privacy of individuals or organizations. Credential leaks can have far-reaching consequences, as cybercriminals may use the stolen credentials for identity theft, unauthorized access or more cybercrime.

Financial fraud

In the context of cybercrime, financial fraud refers to deceptive and illicit activities carried out with the intent of obtaining financial gains through digital channels. This type of cybercrime encompasses a range of fraudulent schemes conducted over the internet, such as online scams, credit card fraud, investment fraud and other deceptive practices. Cybercriminals often employ techniques like phishing, social engineering and malicious software to manipulate individuals or organizations into providing sensitive financial information, making unauthorized funds transfers or falling victim to financial scams.


Cyberbullying is a form of harassment or intimidation that occurs through digital platforms, such as social media, messaging apps or online forums. It involves the use of technology to target individuals with harmful, threatening or demeaning content with the intent of causing emotional distress or harm.

Cyberbullying can take various forms, including spreading rumours, sending explicit messages, sharing personal information without consent or creating fake profiles to impersonate and harass the victim.

The psychological impact of cyberbullying on victims can be severe, leading to emotional distress, anxiety and other extreme mental health challenges. Efforts to combat cyberbullying usually involve promoting digital literacy, encouraging responsible online behaviour and implementing measures to report and address online harassment.

Data breaches

A data breach refers to the unauthorized access, acquisition or disclosure of sensitive and confidential information from a database, computer system or network. During a data breach, cybercriminals gain access to information like personal details, financial records, login credentials or other sensitive data without the knowledge or consent of the individuals or entities involved.

The motives behind data breaches can vary, including financial gain, identity theft, corporate espionage or activism. Data breaches can lead to reputational damage for organizations and increased risks of fraud or other cybercrimes. Preventive measures often involve implementing robust cybersecurity practices, encryption, multifactor authentication and continuous monitoring to detect and mitigate potential breaches.

Cyber espionage

Cyber espionage is the use of digital methods to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information for political, economic or military purposes. In the context of cybercrime, it involves the covert and sophisticated collection of intelligence or proprietary data from individuals, organizations or governments.

Cyber espionage can target various sectors, including government agencies, corporations or research institutions, to obtain classified information, trade secrets and strategic insights. State-sponsored actors, intelligence agencies or cybercriminal groups may engage in cyber espionage, utilizing advanced techniques such as malware, phishing or hacking to infiltrate and compromise targeted systems.

How to protect against cybercrime

To take preventative action against the ever-evolving landscape of cybercrime, individuals and businesses must adopt proactive measures and stay informed about potential risks. Consider these best practices:

  • Education on cyber threats: Understanding common cyber threats, such as phishing, malware and social engineering, is crucial. Educate yourself and your team on recognizing suspicious activities, ensuring a proactive defence against potential attacks.
  • Employee training and awareness: For businesses, ongoing employee training is vital to maintaining a cybersecurity-aware workforce. Regularly update employees on emerging threats and emphasize the vitality of promptly reporting suspicious activities.
  • Credential monitoring: Regularly monitor and update passwords, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Advanced email protection: Most cyberattacks begin with emails deploying an advanced email protection solution to detect and eliminate threats before users get fooled through these attacks. 
  • Backup strategies: Implement robust backup strategies following the 3-2-1 backup rule (have at least three total copies of your data, two of which are local but on different devices and one copy off-site). 
  • Incident response planning: Businesses should establish an incident response plan to handle cyber incidents effectively. Clearly outline the steps to take, including reporting, containment and recovery. Being prepared with a well-defined response plan can mitigate the impact of a cybersecurity breach.

While many protective measures can be taken, such as software, patching, multifactor authentication and strong firewalls, some tactics often get overlooked.

Source: ID Agent


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