cybercriminal is a malicious actor, a hacker, fraudster, or a cybercrime victim, but do you know what it means exactly?
Malicious actor, hacker, fraudster, or cybercriminal are words that you probably become used to hearing regularly. But do you know what the word cybercriminal really means? The word cybercriminal is a portmanteau of the words cyber and criminal and is used to characterise a criminal who uses computer technology as a tool to commit crimes. In a cybercrime, computer technology can be used both as a tool and a target.
When you hear the word hacker, a person with bad intentions usually comes to mind. But actually, not all hackers are bad people, it depends on their intentions. Hackers are computer programmers with expert computation knowledge who use their expertise to overcome computer-related problems by non-standard means.
Hackers are innovative computer experts who know how to use their technical computational skills to break into a computer system. The expertise of a hacker may be required for abroad array of reasons, ranging from infiltrating a network to steal important data or to help companies identify defects and vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructure. A hacker on their own is just a computer expert who can use their skills to achieve specific goals. However, a hacker can become a cybercriminal based on the intention of their goals. If a hacker uses their computer skills to gain unauthorised access to a computer system, network or database for illicit gains, the hacker can be identified as a cybercriminal.
Not all hackers are cybercriminals and not all cybercriminals are hackers. This is because you don’t need to have computing expertise to use Twitter or Instagram to harass people. Since harassment on the internet comes under cybercrimes, not all cybercriminals have to know how to hack into computer systems to be identified as one.
There are primarily three kinds of hackers based on tech-world jargon, differentiated by the colour of their figurative hats:
White-Hat hackers are those with good intentions. They are generally hired by businesses or Government agencies to detect vulnerabilities in an IT system and fix it before a bad actor can exploit them. White-Hat hackers or ethical hackers are employed by organisations on posts such as security engineers or computer forensics investigators to protect their digital assets from cybercriminals.
Black-Hat hackers are the ones with not-so noble intentions. These hackers engage in criminal activity and work with malicious intent. They either work alone or ingroups to commit cybercrimes, usually for monetary gain or to cause an organisation reputational damage. These are the kind of hackers that we call cyber criminals. They steal, delete or modify valuable data to cause harm to individuals, organisations or nation-states.
These kind of hackers are the ‘halfway house’ between white and black-hat hackers. They infiltrate computer systems without permission, as black-hat hackers do, but they don’t leak or steal data. Instead, like white-hat hackers, they help organisations to strengthen their IT infrastructure, but with a different approach. In simple terms, they hack into IT systems without permission, search for defects within the system and then contact the owner and offer to fix the unknown error for a payment.
Every cybercriminal has different goals and motivations. Read on to learn about the different types of cybercriminals:
A hacktivist can either be an individual or a group of people. Hacktivism is usually motivated to draw public attention to an issue or cause that the hacktivist thinks of as socially or politically crucial. There are many ways a hacktivist can show their support for a cause or issue. Usually, they do so by displaying images or messages on the websites of organisations that they believe to be doing something morally incorrect. Due to their altruistic motivations, there’s much debate surrounding if hacktivists should be called cybercriminals.
These kind of cybercriminals are usually bored individuals with limited computing knowledge, shooting in the dark. Their primary motivation is the adrenaline rush that the entire process brings. They may not have malicious intent, but the fact remains that they are still committing a crime that is punishable by law.
Monetary gain is perhaps the most significant and most common incentive for cybercrimes. The targets of such cybercriminals are usually enterprises that store data. This data can then be used to earn money by either extortion, blackmail or selling it to a third party. A financially motivated cyber criminal may work alone or with a team. The most common tricks they use are phishing, malware and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks.
Nation-State hackers are Government sponsored cyber attackers with deep computing expertise and access to the latest tools and technologies. The motivation is associated with nationalist sentiments. These hackers use digital technology as a weapon to gain military, political and economic secrets of rival nations. These individuals work without the fear of legal retribution because who’s going to arrest them in their own country when they are working for the Government?
Cyberterrorism involves the use of computers or information technology to cause severe disruption and widespread fear. The FBI defines it as organised, pre-planned and politically motivated attacks that target computer systems and datasets that ultimately cause violence. The ultimate motivation of such attackers is to cause harm and destruction. Cyber terrorism usually leads to deaths, injuries, severe economic loss, explosions, water contamination, etc.
A company insider has the key to most company secrets and the means to bypass its defences. The insider may be lured or blackmailed into handing access over to a cybercriminal, or they may take it upon themselves to steal/delete valuable company data. An insider can be a former employee wanting revenge, a careless one who inadvertently exposes crucial company data, or the victim of a phishing attack. An insider who is aware of what they are doing, can provide the criminal with a weakness in the system or their own credentials to gain access and cause harm.
A person who tries to hack into a system because its password was accidentally made public would fall under this category of cybercriminals. They take advantage of unexpected opportunities and their motivations can range from financial gain to thrill-seeking.
A hacker-victim is a type of cybercriminal who commits a cybercrime with the sole purpose of exacting revenge. These kinds of cybercriminals have themselves been victims of cybercrime before becoming a cybercriminal. Their motivation is to attack the hacker who attacked them first.
Data is a valuable asset that can also be used to cause harm. It can cause your business to go bankrupt, lose loyal clients and face legal troubles that drain your bank accounts. As technology gets more and more important to organisations, the risk of cyberattacks also continues to grow. In today’s environment, where most businesses are technology-dependent, cybersecurity is not something that can be taken lightly.
We at Gemraj Technologies Ltd, understand the value of cybersecurity to a business and provide services that you can trust and rely on. We house a team of qualified and experienced cybersecurity experts who can help your business prevent and fight cyberattacks.