The unabated pace of technological advancements has made it easier to access and share information than ever before. People can now efficiently work remotely, store their information online, and transact globally. However, it has also made people more vulnerable to cybercriminals.
Cybercrime statistics continue to affect individuals globally. Statista recently released information about the most commonly reported cybercrime categories. The various forms of phishing remain the most common types of attacks, with 85% of organizations reporting encounters with bulk phishing.
Cybercrime poses a significant risk to businesses and individuals. These are the seven most common cybercrimes that all lawyers should get familiar with:
What is Cyber-Crime?
Cybercrime comes in various forms, but it’s performed using the internet. People committing the act have multiple ways of extracting information or distributing copyright-protected content from other people’s computers, mobiles, etc., often using specialized software. Perpetrators of cybercrimes are usually in a different geographical location from their victims.
There are three major categories of computer crime: individual, property, and organizational.
- Individual cybercrime is aimed at a single person. One of the most prevalent forms of this type of crime is hacking a person’s email to steal personal information.
- Property computer crime entails a crime against a person’s computer, smartphone, or other devices. Some examples are ransomware, where a person’s files are held hostage until a ransom is paid, or stealing a person’s identity for criminal purposes.
- In an organizational attack, cybercriminals attack large organizations or government departments to disrupt them or steal information. They can also cause a denial-of-service attack, bringing an organization or governmental department to a standstill. There have been cases where governments are known to have organized such attacks.
7 Most Common Cybercrimes
All lawyers should get familiar with the seven most common cybercrimes to help them protect their law practices and clients.
Phishing attacks are not only a threat to individuals but also organizations, resulting in data breaches. Typically, criminals use fraudulent emails pretending to be a legitimate business, attempting to collect personal information. The scammers use links in these emails, redirecting their victims to a website they own. For organizations, a phishing attack can result in massive data breaches for their customers or clients. They can also result in ransomware infections. People must understand the danger of providing sensitive information online.
2. Stalking, Harassment, or Extortion
Cyberstalkers use electronic communication methods like emails, social media, or websites to harass people. Typically, online harassment may include slander, libel, false accusations, threats, extortion, etc., aiming to embarrass their victim or extract money from them. Revenge porn is an increasing form of online harassment. Cyberstalking constitutes a crime resulting in jail time and hefty fines for perpetrators who closely monitor their victims online, often using personal information with malicious intent.
Unfortunately, stalking, harassment, and extortion can devastate a person’s well-being, often leading to mental stress or pushing victims to commit suicide.
With ransomware, cybercriminals install malicious software on a computer system to hold important information hostage until their demands are met (cyberextortion). The software encrypts files or shuts down the computer network, and even though the person or company may pay the ransom, these files are often never recovered. Preventative measures like backup and recovery plans, up-to-date anti-virus software, restricting user ability permissions, etc., are some of the best ways to prevent ransomware attacks.
4. Child Pornography, Solicitation, Drug, and Human Trafficking,
Sexual exploitation of children remains a huge global problem, and millions of cases are reported annually to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Criminals illegally possessing and distributing child pornography remains a serious crime, but many criminals do more than just gain access to images. They often try to arrange meetings with their victims. These cases are considered severe, and perpetrators face hefty sentences.
Other serious crimes enabled by the internet and cryptocurrencies include human trafficking, solicitation, and the drug trade.
5. Intellectual Property Theft
Intellectual property theft is also called piracy. Unfortunately, creators and artists of intellectual property like books, movies, and music lose a lot of income from the methods used to obtain access to their property illegally, meaning it’s not a victimless crime. Illegal downloads not only mean loss of revenue, but they can also hide malware that activates when opening the file, with the risk of infecting everything on the computer.
6. Account Hacking and Identity Fraud
Cybercriminals use several ways to hack accounts and commit identity fraud by accessing private information or passwords, enabling them to gain financially from the data. It is illegal for someone else to log into an email or social media account of someone else, but criminals will try nonetheless.
7. Credit Card or Financial Fraud
Identity fraud usually entails committing credit card or financial fraud. Criminals manage to install spyware onto a computer or smartphone through which they tend to collect data that enables them to execute fraudulent purchases or bank transfers.
According to Cybersecurity Ventures, cybercrime costs globally continue to escalate by 15% annually and will reach $3 trillion by 2025. Cybercrime Magazine reports that these costs include data damage and destruction, lost productivity, stolen money, intellectual property theft, fraud, post-attack disruptions, restorations, and reputational damage.
Everyone needs to protect themselves from cyberattacks by taking the proper measures. These include keeping software systems updated, using anti-virus protection software, having strong passwords not recorded anywhere, avoiding opening spam emails or their attachments, and never giving personal information to unsure sources.
Tips for Lawyers
Lawyers need to understand the importance of cybercrime and its potential implications on their practice. Corporate clients may seek legal advice if they are breach victims, while other lawyers may represent suspects. Some recommendations to protect law firms include:
1. Ensure that each device is updated with current antivirus software.
2. Require strong passwords that are changed regularly.
3. Be wary of phishing emails, and do not open unknown attachments or links.
4. Train employees on cybercrime prevention, such as avoiding accessing suspicious websites or using public Wi-Fi to access sensitive information.
5. Educate yourself about the latest trends in cybercrime and its legal implications.
6. Invest in cybersecurity insurance to protect from potential cyberattacks.
7. Ensure the firm’s servers, network devices, and software are up-to-date for increased protection.
By following these tips, lawyers can be better prepared to handle any associated cases or provide sound advice to their clients on cybercrime prevention measures. It is also important for lawyers to keep abreast of the latest developments in this field to stay ahead of criminals and provide effective representation for their clients and practice overall.
Whether acting alone or part of an organized syndicate, cybercriminals continue wreaking havoc on unsuspecting individuals or firms through various cyberattacks. Law enforcement is vital in investigating computer crimes, leading to arrests and prosecutions.
All lawyers should get familiar with the seven most common types of cybercrimes as more and more law firms embrace internet technology. Knowledge can help prevent attacks on the systems where they keep sensitive client information. Additionally, lawyers see more and more cases involving some form of cybercrime or accusations of it, and knowledge can help them ensure the fair serving of justice.
What are the most common types of cyber crimes?
The most common types of cybercrimes include phishing, malware attacks, ransomware attacks, child pornography and solicitation, intellectual property theft, account hacking and identity fraud, and credit card or financial fraud.
How can lawyers protect themselves from cybercrime?
Lawyers should ensure each device in use is updated with current antivirus software, require strong passwords that are changed regularly, be wary of phishing emails and do not open unknown attachments or links, train employees on cybercrime prevention measures such as avoiding accessing suspicious websites or using public Wi-Fi to access sensitive information, educate themselves about the latest trends in cybercrime and its legal implications, invest in cybersecurity insurance to protect from potential cyberattacks and ensure the firm’s servers, network devices, and software are up-to-date for increased protection.
What happens if a lawyer is a victim of cybercrime?
If lawyers become victims of cybercrime, they should report it to the police. Additionally, they can contact their local law enforcement agency or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). This will help investigate cases related to child pornography or other illegal activities, such as human trafficking. Finally, they should seek legal advice on how to proceed and protect themselves from further harm or criminal liability.