The Internet has opened up the world to information right in the palm of your hand. But with all the positive aspects and benefits of the technology come risks and the potential for criminal activity and personal harm.
Cyber crime targets computers themselves or uses computers to target individuals, groups, businesses or governments in criminal ways.
The most common types of cyber crimes are:
Fraud – usually financial in nature. Criminals hack into personal or business accounts to access funds, passwords, Social Insurance numbers, credit card numbers etc. Identity theft is a growing problem as criminals access personal information and use that information for their own benefit. Fraud often leads to extortion and other severe crimes.
Malicious downloads – Accessing personal or organizational computers in order to hack into files, browse website patterns, entice users to download files or click on attachments that send confidential information to the criminals or destroy the users’ files or computer. Hacking, spoofing, phishing, tricking users to download worms, viruses, etc. are criminal activities.
Bullying, Stalking, Harassing, Threatening – These crimes are criminal acts that target individuals or groups of individuals. Bullies post obscene, degrading, offensive, insulting, embarrassing or cruel comments and/or pictures about someone else on web and social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Sometimes bullies impersonate someone else to hurt the victim.
Users, especially young people, need to be very careful not to post personal information on their social media sites, like their name, age, address, school, location or plans to be somewhere or meet someone. Predators can easily track down unsuspecting victims and do harm to them.
Schools have anti-bullying procedures in place. Always remember that the bullying will not stop until it is reported to school authorities, the School Liaison Officer or other Police officers, or to Crime Stoppers.
Spam – is more than simply annoying messages and advertisements. Unsolicited email can be used to spread viruses, worms, Trojan horses or to trick email users into giving personal information that can lead to identity theft, fraud or computer crashes. Some viruses use your email to disseminate malicious files and codes.
Pornography and the luring and grooming of children are conducted through the internet and are criminal behaviours.
Organized crime – often uses the internet to send encrypted messages that enable drug and human trafficking.
Cyber warfare and cyber terrorism – federal law enforcement agencies all over the world look out for criminal activity being conducted over the internet.
Be aware, cautious and protective of your information. If in doubt, contact your local Police.
The Hamilton Police Service has several information sheets on their website to help you keep safe on the computer.
HPS Fact Sheet on Bullying.
HPS Information Sheet on Sexting.
The RCMP also suggests ways to keep yourself safe.
Private institution, like Ryerson University, investigate and try to prevent Cyber Crime. Privacy and Cyber Crime Institute
The FBI is constantly urging citizens to exercise caution and discretion when using the internet.
Interpol, as well, tracks cyber crime in an attempt to stop it.