What is Cybercrime? Cybercrime Definition

what is Cybercrime

What is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime: maybe you’ve heard of the dangers of crime online, or maybe you are skeptical as to what it is. Perhaps you say, “Cybercrime sounds like a myth. There’s no way I’m in danger,” or “I’m safe enough online. I don’t have to learn anything more to be protected. I’m not rich, famous, or have a multi-million-dollar business.” 

Even though it may not be obvious, people like you and me are affected by cybercrime every single day!

But what exactly is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is a criminal activity involving your computer, phone, or any other electronic or network device as well as your email, and social media accounts.

Crimes in the cyber world could be in the form of fraud, malicious software to hack or harm other people, distribution of pornography, money laundering, extortion, romance scams, or identity theft.

Cybercrime is also defined as “the malicious use of information systems.” While the term encompasses everything from hacking to phishing scams, the most common form of cybercrime involves the theft of personal information. In fact, according to the FBI, identity fraud costs consumers $16 billion annually.

Cybercrime is a broad term covering many different kinds of illegal activity online. Including identity theft, computer hacking, credit card fraud, spamming, phishing, extortion, malware distribution, denial of service attacks, etc. Cybercriminals use computers, mobile devices, and even IoT devices like smart TVs, routers, refrigerators, security cameras, and cars to commit crimes.

They often steal sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card details. Once they have this information, Cybermonsters can make fraudulent purchases, withdraw money electronically, and perform other criminal activities.

What is the difference between cybercrime, cyber threat, and cyber-attack?

“Cybercrime, cyber threat, and cyber attacks” are terms closely related and sometimes used interchangeably. 

We stated above that cybercrime is a criminal activity that targets or involves electronic devices (computer, networks, etc).

A cyber threat is the possibility or probability of a successful cyber attack with the intention to gain access to your data to steal it, damage it or disrupt your business or personal life. Cyber threats pose one of the greatest dangers to Americans today. They threaten everything from our economy to our personal information.

A cyber-attack, on the other hand, is the actual ACT. It’s the offensive action. They are never-ending and ever evolving.

Some of the most widespread cyber-attacks include:

  • Malware or malicious software that carries out a specific task, such as corrupting data, taking control of the system, and more.
  • Phishing is a social engineering attack that tricks the victim into clicking an infected link, opening a malicious file, or taking another action to divulge confidential information. One of the oldest phishing scams involves the “Nigerian 419” email scam. The victim is asked to pay someone else to do something for them. But the scammer never sends the promised payment. Instead, he/she/they collect the money from the unwitting victim.
  • Ransomware is when the data or system is locked (encrypted), and a payment note is delivered asking as an exchange to regain access to the information. Read more on malware vs ransomware
  • Denial of Service (DDoS) is an intentional overload of a system or website, causing it to fail.
  • Man in the Middle (MitM) is when the Cybermonster or attacker finds a way to intercept and be between the sender and recipient of electronic communication, sometimes modifying it while in route.
  • Identity theft is using your personal information without your permission or impersonating you to conduct criminal acts on your behalf.
  • Scams– the Internet has become a fertile ground for scammers looking to make quick money off unsuspecting victims. A typical internet scam involves sending fake checks to people. These fraudulent checks usually ask recipients to wire money to a bank account overseas. If the check doesn’t bounce, the recipient is left holding the bag. 

Social Medias

  • In recent years, there has been a rise in social media platforms like Facebook, Ig, LinkedIn, Snapchat, TikTok, Twitter, and many others. Many scammers take advantage of their popularity to create campaigns targeting individuals. For example, they may send messages asking for donations to “help” a sick relative. Once the person responds, the scammers request additional information, such as credit card numbers and passwords. Social media scams come in a variety of forms. Some of the popular ones include:
  • Fake job offers — These offer jobs requiring little work but high salaries. When you apply, however, you discover that the position does not exist.
  • Spam text messages — These texts are sent without permission. Sometimes they are advertisements, but others are attempts to sell products or services. Be aware of clicking any link you have received, Read the article to know how to check if a link is safe without clicking on it.
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How does It affect our daily lives?

The number of people affected by cybercrime continues to grow each day. From data breaches to identity theft, there are countless ways that cybercriminals can take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

In addition to compromising individual identities, cybercrime can also cause enormous repercussions for companies. For example, companies may lose consumer trust, leading to lower sales and profits for the targeted company—they may lose reputation and brand impact. Lastly, the financial loss during the cybercrime incident and its recovery actions.

I’ve had my identity stolen, and I can tell you, it is downright frightening to be attacked by hackers, scammers, and Cybermonsters™. It turns your life into a nightmare in many ways, and it takes years to recover from it.

What are the signs of cybercrime that may be affecting you?

Cyber red flags are everywhere. You might think you know how to spot them, but it’s essential to understand what exactly constitutes a cyber red flag. Here are some examples of things that aren’t really red flags, but you should still watch out for:

  • Unusual activity on your computer or mobile device – such as someone accessing files stored on your hard drive, opening email attachments, or installing programs without your knowledge.
  • Suspicious emails, text messages, phone calls, instant messages, or chat sessions – especially if they come from people you don’t know or haven’t communicated with recently.
  • Strange requests for personal information – like bank account numbers, passwords, Social Security Numbers, credit card numbers, medical records, or birth dates.
  • Someone is asking to borrow money or offering to sell something for cheap – even if he says he needs the money urgently.
  • Unusually high traffic to a website or app – especially if there’s no apparent reason why anyone would want to access it.
  • A request for donations to a cause you never heard of.


Luckily, there are many things we can do to protect ourselves and our most precious information from cybercrime. The first key element is understanding that “cybercrime” is a real problem that can happen to you and me. Having the awareness will help you develop sensible practices and change basic habits that can safeguard you on your loved ones to live Happily Ever Cyber!

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My favorite practice is to Be I AM. Be Intentional, Aware, and Mindful is an extraordinary practice that is a significant first step to choosing simple techniques to promote cyber safety in your family and business. Watch my TEDx Talk to learn more about the Be I AM practice.


It’s like a lock on a diary with your deepest secrets. (I learned how safe those were when I was a young girl!). The Be I AM practice can be incorporated into our daily lives right away. When we travel, when we use our phones, emails, or social media channels. So Cybermonsters™ can’t get to us. So Be I AM. Be I AM now!

Some other actions might

Have you ever been a victim of cybercrime? Tell us about it below!

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Live Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok, CEO and Founder of Way2Protect | Happily Ever Cyber!

Sandra Estok

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