Cybercrime: What is it and how can you stay safe online?
Take our cybercrime test and learn about online crimes and how to stay safe when browsing.
What is cybercrime?
Cybercrime is criminal activity that involves a computer or other device that can be connected to a network. It’s usually associated with someone gaining access to another person’s personal information for financial gain. Educating users about safety online and implementing privacy settings have helped combat cybercrime to an extent. But, as we continue to use technology more and more, cybercriminals have become more aggressive, with the number of cases rising.
What are the different types of cybercrime?
Cybercrimes can take place in several forms and modern technology means that criminals can use various methods to catch their victims off guard. The most common online crimes are phishing scams, identity theft and malware attacks.
What are phishing scams?
Phishing is when a criminal uses fake emails, texts or calls to trick a person into believing they are from a reputable company. The aim is either to get the victim to visit a website where they might download a harmful virus onto their device, or submit personal information such as their bank details. Another form of this is spear phishing, which is when a criminal targets an individual or organisation. Where previous phishing tactics may have relied on mass emails sent to random individuals, spear phishing is when the email, text or call will include personal information to the individual. The criminals may pretend to be from a reputable company that the victim has used before, so the emails and texts may be branded and the phone calls can feel genuine. So it’s important to spot the red flags and learn how to keep yourself safe.
How can you spot a phishing scam?
If an email or text is unexpected or seems random, ignore it and do not click on it or any links it contains as this may compromise the safety of your device. If you’re unsure whether or not it’s real, contact the company directly using an official online point of contact or phone number.
Be sure to never give out personal information over the phone or by text or email. If you are being asked for personal information, such as your bank account details, hang up the call or ignore the text and contact the company directly. It’s important to remember that your bank, the police and reputable companies will never ask for sensitive or financial details by phone, email or text.
Also remember that if you’re going to a company’s website, you should manually enter the address into the search bar as opposed to clicking on a link from a suspicious email or text.
How can you report a phishing scam?
If you fear you have been targeted by a scam, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit actionfraud.police.uk.
For anything involving bank details or credit cards, it’s also important to contact your bank or credit card company directly.
If you believe your Virgin Media account has been hacked, follow the steps listed here.
If you have been sent a suspicious text claiming to be from Virgin Media, you can forward this to us on 7726 and we will work to block the number.
If you receive any suspicious emails claiming to be from Virgin Media, forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will investigate.
What is identity theft and how can you stay safe?
Identity theft is when a criminal obtains personal information and pretends to be someone else to commit their crimes.
If a criminal succeeds in tricking someone into giving out their personal details, such as their credit card number or bank details, they may use this to commit identity fraud and access bank accounts, or possibly take out a loan.
To stay safe, make sure you shred all letters and bank statements that include sensitive information because cybercriminals may try to go through your bins.
Also make sure your passwords are strong and your PINs are tricky to guess - don’t use your date of birth, for example. And remember that your bank, the police and other reputable companies will not ask for personal or sensitive details over phone, call or text.
What is the difference between identity theft and identity fraud?
Identity theft is when a criminal steals personal information to use an account you already have. For example, get hold of your credit card details and make purchases with it. Identity fraud is when the person uses the personal details to impersonate you and potentially open a new line of credit or a bank loan.
What are malware attacks?
Malware is short for malicious software and refers to intrusive software that cybercriminals use to steal data or destroy a computer or networked device.
A malware attack is when a cybercriminal entices you to click on a link that will download malware onto your device. When you continue to shop online and use your credit card and passwords to access your accounts, the malware will be logging the information and sending it to the criminal. Another form of malware is ransomware, which locks a device and the victim is asked to pay a sum of money to unlock it.
To prevent malware attacks, make sure to the cookies in your browsers – you can do this via settings. Always be vigilant with suspicious-looking emails, texts or calls. Never click on links and if in doubt, contact the company directly.
What should I do in the event of a malware attack?
Firstly, turn off your device and disconnect from the network. This should prevent the threat from spreading any further. Then contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.
How can Virgin Media help to keep me safe online?
Virgin Media’s Web Safe blocks access to websites with viruses, as well as protecting you from malicious sites.
Virgin Media Internet Security is an award-winning antivirus software that offers customers safe browsing without the threat of viruses, malware, phishing and other dangers. You’ll pay nothing for 3 months (with no payment details needed upfront), then it’s just £3 a month (or £30 a year) for unlimited online protection for all your devices. So you can sit back and relax whilst you browse.
You can find out more about internet safety and gain that extra peace of mind from Internet Matters.