6 most common types of cybercrimes business leaders should understand

By Scott Steinberg

Unfortunately for corporate leaders, cybercrimes are on the rise and are expected to cost businesses more than $2 trillion by 2019, according to researchers at security testing firm Checkmarx. What’s more, these types of infractions are expected to become even more of a concern as more sensitive data and daily business operations shift to mobile-, cloud- and internet-based solutions. Just ask the FBI: each of its 56 field offices now employs agents and analysts specially trained to recognize, research and combat these violations. Business leaders would do well to be familiar with different types of cybercrime, since their consequences can be highly costly and damaging for modern businesses, especially in terms of brand reputation, should such incidents become public.

The following are six common types of cybercrime that any modern enterprise should recognize:

1. Computer system attacks

Rather than intrude on systems, cybercriminals may attempt to disrupt, disable or shut them down. These efforts range from trying to overload servers with information to exploiting vulnerabilities or loopholes in software to creating unexpected or unforeseen exceptions in systems. Attacks on corporations are becoming increasingly common and should be anticipated and planned for at all points going forward.

2. Malware

Malware describes the use of malicious software to harm or compromise computers, mobile devices or cloud-based solutions. Often spread inadvertently by exposed users, malware may also be used to monitor online activity, track information and send details back to criminals who are looking to exploit data. The common types of malware your organization may encounter include the following:

  • Viruses: Programs designed to spread like wildfire and cause damage to systems
  • Spyware: Software that’s built to spy on your activities
  • Bots: Automated sources designed to perform unwanted tasks, often repeatedly

3. Phishing

Phishing is a form of con artistry in which third parties aim to trick individuals into giving out sensitive information, typically by using a bait-and-switch method. For example, a cybercriminal could send a link to a website that appears to be a legitimate corporate holding but is actually a duplicate designed to collect users’ data. Phishing can appear in many forms, but it’s designed to convince your employees to part with data they normally wouldn’t, such as credit card or banking information.

4. Identity theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses personal and private information to assume the identity of another party. This is typically for purposes of illegally purchasing goods and services, registering or applying for accounts and similarly underhanded reasons. Data is becoming increasingly valuable to cybercriminals, and more information is shifting online as enterprises move toward internet-based, mobile and virtualized solutions. As a result, your company’s private data is becoming an increasingly attractive target for those with nefarious intentions.

5. Social engineering

Social engineering is the act of conning someone into parting with something they shouldn’t, such as a piece of sensitive data or inside insight into new solutions. For example, a criminal posing as a network supervisor might contact someone in the accounting department and request login and password information to restricted systems. Human error is among the most common sources of security breaches. Training your staff to maintain a healthy sense of skepticism, stick to predefined processes and procedures and contact appropriate parties to verify details and ask questions is key to avoiding becoming a victim.

6. Web-based and denial-of-service attacks

According to Checkmarx, web-based and denial-of-service attacks rank among today’s most expensive cybercrimes for businesses, costing them an average of $96,000 and $127,000 to address, respectively. They can also take as much as 30 to 50 days or more to recover from. To avoid these and ancillary expenses — including technical, legal and uptime costs and reputational damage — be sure to make mobile security a priority.

Cybercrimes are a growing source of concern for many businesses. Making a point to plan for these challenges and training yourself and your staff to recognize them when they occur is key to effectively combating these threats.

Written By

Scott Steinberg

Keynote Speaker and Bestselling Author

Award-winning professional speaker, Scott Steinberg, is a bestselling expert on leadership and innovation, and the author of Make Change Work for You: 10 Ways to Future-Proof Yourself, Fearlessly Innovate, and Succeed Despite Uncertainty. Among today’s top-rated international speakers…

Other Articles by Scott Steinberg
See All Posts