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What is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime is any criminal activity involving computers, digital devices, or networks.

Some forms of cybercrime are motivated by financial or personal gain of the attackers, while other forms are mainly intended to cause damage or disruption to computing devices, or the physical services that depend on them. Other forms of cybercrime aim to spread malware or illegal information, or compromise a large number of devices to perform illegal activities under the attacker’s control.

Most cybercriminals aim to profit from their criminal activities, giving rise to a cybercrime economy. Attackers can profit from cybercrime using techniques like ransom attacks, extortion, identity fraud, and theft of financial accounts or payment card information.

Common Types of Cybercrime

Cyberbullying – doxxing, fraping

The term cyberbullying applies to various types of online harassment, including stalking and sexual harassment. Doxxing is another form of cyberbullying that involves exposing personal information (physical address, for example) online without the person’s consent. Cyberbullying can also manifest as fraping, which involves breaking into a user’s social media account and using it to make fake posts on their behalf.

Cyber Extortion – ransomware, blackmailing, DDoS

Cyber extortion involves using digital means to extort individuals, groups, or companies. Ransomware is a common form of cyber exertion. It occurs when threat actors infect the victim’s machine or systems with malicious software (malware). This malware encrypts all files and prevents access until the victim pays a ransom to obtain a decryption key.

Here are additional cyber extortion methods:

Cyber Espionage – state-sponsored attacks, cyber warfare

Governments or organizations use cyber espionage to obtain classified information, use malware to attack foreign government agencies, and perform attacks on critical infrastructure. Cyber espionage is typically performed by state-sponsored groups that serve a nation and its political agendas. It is often utilized during periods of hostility and warfare between nations.

Cyberstalking – stalking via websites, search engines, social media

Cyberstalking is a form of online harassment that subjects the victim to numerous online messages or emails. Cyberstalkers typically use websites, search engines, and social media networks to intimidate victims and instill fear. The cyberstalker usually knows the victim and attempts to instill fear in the victim or make them feel concerned for their safety.

Identity Theft – credential theft, stealing funds, tax frauds, benefits fraud

Identity theft is a cybercrime that occurs when a threat actor gains unauthorized access to a user’s personal information. The threat actor may use this information in various ways, including:

  • Gaining unauthorized access to confidential information.
  • Stealing funds.
  • Participating in health insurance or tax fraud.
  • Opening a phone or Internet account using the victim’s name.
  • Using the victim’s name to plan a criminal activity
  • Claiming government benefits using the victim’s name.

Threat actors can steal identities in several ways. For example, they may crack the victim’s passwords, use social media to retrieve personal information, or send phishing emails.

Prohibited/Illegal Content – videos of criminal activity, child exploitation material, terrorism material

Sharing and distributing inappropriate or illegal content is a cybercrime. Inappropriate content is typically highly offensive, such as sexual activity, videos of criminal activity, and videos with intense violence. Illegal content can include child exploitation materials and materials advocating terrorism-related acts. This content exists on the Internet and on anonymous networks known as the dark web.

Effects of Cybercrime on Businesses

Apart from direct financial losses incurred through cybercrime, cyber attacks can lead to many indirect impacts on organizations:

  • Loss of investor awareness following a security breach can reduce company value.
  • Reduced credit rating, making it more difficult to raise capital or receive loans, and heightened insurance premiums.
  • Loss of sensitive customer data can result in fines and penalties, as well as exposure to legal suits from customers or others whose data was affected.
  • Damage to brand image and loss of reputation.
  • Public relations, communication, and legal costs.
  • Outsourced incident response or forensic investigation services required for breaches that cannot be handled by in-house security staff.

Cybercrime Prevention and Protection


Whether your employees work remotely or from the office, they need to be informed about cybercrime. Threat actors often target employees, trying to trick them into divulging sensitive information, sharing credentials, downloading malicious files, clicking on malicious links, etc. Proactive training can help ensure employees know how to recognize and respond to attacks.

Informed employees can learn how to spot these attacks and not fall prey. Cybercrime education is critical, especially for remote employees. In an office environment, employees can quickly share information. Remotely, they may not be able to warn each other when learning of a threat.

Secure Mobile Devices

Today’s work practices allow employees to use mobile devices, tablets, and other endpoints to access corporate information and resources to conduct business. Whether these devices are personally-owned or organization-owned, they require adequate security to protect the network and its resources.

You can secure mobile devices by keeping them up-to-date with the latest security patches and denying access to unpatched devices attempting to access the corporate network and its resources. A standard policy for physically securing devices connected to company data can further help protect the network. You can use zero trust network access to enforce this policy.

Control Applications

Ideally, organizations should have complete control over all applications used by employees to conduct business. When employees use non-approved applications without informing the IT team – the result is shadow IT. In this scenario, the IT team is not even aware of these applications and cannot ensure the safety of the network and its resources.

You can prevent shadow IT by conducting routine asset management audits. It involves checking the security credentials of all services used by employees and removing those that do not meet the organization’s requirements for security, data integrity, and privacy.

Regularly Assess and Test Your Systems

Today’s networks are highly dynamic environments that evolve and change. Endpoints, third-party software, and cloud resources constantly connect and disconnect to the network. Thousands of vulnerabilities are discovered every day, and many remain hidden. Patches are released, attacks are launched, and employees click on links and download files.

To ensure the security of the network and its assets, organizations need to assess and test their cyber security posture regularly. The goal is to determine your strengths and weaknesses, identify critical vulnerabilities, and learn about insider and external threats. You can do that by using vulnerability assessments to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities, risk assessments to evaluate potential risks for certain events, and penetration testing to assess your defenses.

Develop, Implement, and Enforce Security Policies

Security policies can help you control components across your network by enforcing specific rules that ensure components comply with certain standards of behavior. For example, you can use password policies to prevent employees from using weak or default passwords. You can establish remote access policies to enforce controls that keep remote access secure.

You can also create email/communication policies to prevent employees from downloading files sent via email, protecting employees and the network from phishing attacks. Access management and access control policies are important for preventing unauthorized access. You should use the principle of least privilege (POLP) to restrict access to the minimum required for each user, preventing privilege escalation.

Cybercrime Protection with Imperva

Imperva Application Security

Imperva can help businesses protect against cybercrime via comprehensive protection for applications, APIs, and microservices:

Web Application Firewall – Prevent attacks with world-class analysis of web traffic to your applications.

Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) – Real-time attack detection and prevention from your application runtime environment goes wherever your applications go. Stop external attacks and injections and reduce your vulnerability backlog.

API Security – Automated API protection ensures your API endpoints are protected as they are published, shielding your applications from exploitation.

Advanced Bot Protection – Prevent business logic attacks from all access points – websites, mobile apps and APIs. Gain seamless visibility and control over bot traffic to stop online fraud through account takeover or competitive price scraping.

DDoS Protection – Block attack traffic at the edge to ensure business continuity with guaranteed uptime and no performance impact. Secure your on premises or cloud-based assets – whether you’re hosted in AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Public Cloud.

Attack Analytics – Ensures complete visibility with machine learning and domain expertise across the application security stack to reveal patterns in the noise and detect application attacks, enabling you to isolate and prevent attack campaigns.

Client-Side Protection – Gain visibility and control over third-party JavaScript code to reduce the risk of supply chain fraud, prevent data breaches, and client-side attacks.

Imperva Data Security

In addition, Imperva protects cloud-based data stores to ensure compliance and prevent cyber attacks on critical data assets:

Cloud Data Security – Simplify securing your cloud databases to catch up and keep up with DevOps. Imperva’s solution enables cloud-managed services users to rapidly gain visibility and control of cloud data.

Database Security – Imperva delivers analytics, protection and response across your data assets, on-premise and in the cloud – giving you the risk visibility to prevent data breaches and avoid compliance incidents. Integrate with any database to gain instant visibility, implement universal policies, and speed time to value.

Data Risk Analysis – Automate the detection of non-compliant, risky, or malicious data access behavior across all of your databases enterprise-wide to accelerate remediation.