Because of the recent economic problems, experts are saying that cybercrime has hit an all time high. From mid-September, the number of malicious programs circulating on the Internet has tripled to more than 31,000 a day. This new wave of Internet based schemes steal personal data and carry out financial scams. These criminals are taking advantage of the fear and confusion that tumbling financial markets have created.
Security experts, government regulators and law enforcement agencies are seeing all types of con games. From e-mail phishing scams that try to trick you into typing sensitive data at fake websites, to cyberhijacking, where thieves use stolen user names and passwords to access your online accounts.
During the last three months of 2008, cyber threats have escalated and experts say more may be coming especially if the economy continues to weaken. Organized cybercrime groups have become efficient at assembling massive networks of infected computers – called botnets – and deploy them to gather large caches of stolen data. Many of these cyber criminals are hacking into data storehouses and turning this stolen data into cash.
Even social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter have launched many criminal schemes. These thieves snare account users names, passwords and Social Security numbers. They have sent tainted links in e-mail and instant messages that spread viruses.
Who are these people? Some experts claim they may be former IT people who have been laid off from large corporations and now are looking to make a quick buck by stealing peoples’ identities. They are looking for ways to breach the highest levels of the global finance infrastructure as well as a majority of home computers.
What can you do to make sure that you aren’t a victim of a cyber crime? Make sure that any transaction made on your credit card or debit card is what you authorized. If you think you have received a phishing scam, contact the company – usually a bank – directly. Banks never ask for private information via email. Most importantly, be aware of what sites you visit and if you don’t know the sender of an email, delete it immediately. Even by opening up an email, you may infect your computer.