Computer Crimes to Watch Out For

Beware of these all-too-common computer crimes!

The most common form of identity theft remains computer crimes, especially those that allow hackers to capture personal information and use a victim's credit cards fraudulently. And yet many people don't understand the depth and danger of computer crime -- instead, they think of it as a 'lesser' crime when compared to face-to-face offences.

Obviously, though, perpetrators commit identity theft in secret -- and that makes computer crimes the perfect approach. Here are the three most common identity theft computer crimes and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Phishing

By now most people know better than to send money to African princesses, but there are literally thousands of phishing emails out there, and some are pretty insidious. The best hackers pose as an established company, going so far as to create a plausible email address and analyze the company's official communications to sound authentic.

Most phishing emails contain a threat so that you'll act quickly, without thinking too much. Be wary of any financial threat coming via email. If you have any suspicions at all, immediately contact the institution and ask them to confirm the information. Obviously, you should not do this by replying to the suspect email or using any phone numbers it provides -- look up the company's contact info directly.

2. Keystroke Spyware

Spyware is another one of those insidious computer crimes. It preys on the unsuspecting, attaching itself to legitimate websites, showing up in random links, or appearing in games and other programs you download.

Keystroke spyware is particularly insidious. The hacker installs a keystroke program on your computer -- which is to say, a program that captures every key you strike and sends it back to the hacker to analyze. From there, it's surprisingly easy to glean information like your passwords, credit card number, and anything else you type into your computer.

The only protection against spyware? A good antivirus program that also watches for computer crimes. Install one of these and keep it up to date. Otherwise, you never know what you'll wind up downloading.

3. Hacker Spyware

Hacker spyware is the same as keystroke spyware, but serves a different function. Instead of capturing keystrokes, it opens a window into your system, allowing the hacker to enter your computer and stroll through your hard drive, gathering any information you might store.

Obviously, you should handle these computer crimes the same as the former: install a good antivirus protection system that also watches for spyware.

It's true that computer crimes are on the rise, but you don't have to be helpless -- not if you follow these simple tips.

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