In forums and social media, people will refer to the world that exists outside of the internet as “real life,” insinuating that only the life lived outside of the phone or computer is reality. The truth of the matter is that life online and offline are just as real and just as intertwined in complicated systems such as crime. Digital crime holds the potential to be every bit as damaging and dangerous as crimes committed in the offline world; in many cases, your personal security information is at a greater risk of exposure to digital crime due to its already digital storage.
Digital crime is an umbrella term that encompasses many different avenues of illegal activity that involves the internet or any other technology structure. This could mean illegal and unauthorized access to databases or computer systems; interference with data through alteration, deletion or suppression; interceptions of transmissions to and from other systems; interfering with the way a device or computer functions; and many other illegal attacks of information security.
There are many different ways that digital crime can manifest itself, just as it can in the “real world” offline. Common cases of cyber crime include fraud, online credit card fraud, cyber larceny, cyber harassment, computer desktop forgery, cyber stalking, copyright infringement, online auction fraud and more.
These types of data attacks don’t necessarily require an organization to be perpetuated, leaving such attacks at the whims of single human beings oftentimes. Evidence of these types of crimes no matter who commits them is often found in just about any type of internet-connected device, including computers, smartphones, servers, GPS systems and more.
In order to fight off such attacks, immediate recognition and detection of such activity is paramount. Preserving and recovering vulnerable data that has been tampered with or compromised in any way is one of the most critical points when it comes to fighting against digital crimes, but there are other ways that you can help reduce your chances of being a victim of digital crime.
If you find reason to believe that you have fallen victim to digital crime, there are ways to engage in damage control to minimize the damage done. Ensure that you are not giving access to affected systems with sensitive information to any other person, including the IT staff. Avoid turning the systems on or off, but do consider disconnecting it from the network to reduce the risk of further attacks on the compromised systems.
Preemptively, you can consider backing up and storing your important information on physical storage devices and storing them off site from your computers or servers to make them even more difficult to access. If your system has already been compromised, consulting with a technical expert is your best move. Computer forensics organizations also exist with the express purpose of investigating and solving digital crimes as well to help you preserve your data and seek justice for the breach of security and sensitive information. Cyber crime can happen to anyone just like crime in the real world, and taking steps to protect and preserve is your best tool for fighting back.