By now, we have all heard about the “Heartbleed” bug which infected many OpenSSL-secured systems across the world. The potentially catastrophic results of its existence have not yet been determined, and sources say hackers could have been exploiting the vulnerability since November 2013.

The scary thing about cyber-crime is that it’s not going anywhere. In fact, according to reports by “The Wire,” cyber-crime has increased by 75 percent since last year.

The internet is growing and so, too, are the number of cyber criminals. Society has become reliant on modern technology to the point that many of us are complacent with our security practices. Cyber criminals are reaping the benefits of the increased network speeds and ease of using new technology to exploit unsuspecting individuals. Among the more common examples of cyber-crime are phishing, espionage, child pornography, online bullying, credit card fraud, software piracy, spamming and the spreading of computer viruses to aid in many of the above.

5 Countries Notorious for Cyber-Crime

“The bad guys are winning,” according to a 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report. Cybercrime is on the rise in most countries: it used to be small groups or individuals who were responsible for most of the crimes but now there are geographically diverse and increasingly powerful criminal organizations that are masterminding the latest attacks.

“Symantec” reports the United States, China, Germany, Britain, and Brazil are the largest countries known for cyber-crimes. This ranking is based on the number of zombie systems, phishing sites, bot-infected systems, and cyber-attacks originating in the country. “Symantec” also factored in the inequalities in broadband access across countries.

In their January 2014 Intelligence Report, “Symantec” named

  • Canada, as the source of the most spam
  • United States, as the source of the most phishing attacks
  • South Africa as the target of the most phishing scams
  • United States, as the source of the most email viruses
  • Hungary as the likeliest destination for an email carrying a virus

Notorious Cyber Crime Scandals

The Mask

Cyber-espionage reached new heights with the uncovering of “The Mask” malware toolkit.

Russian security firm “Kaspersky Labs” reported in February that victims of The Mask included 380 unique entities in 31 countries across the globe, and comprised of high-profile organizations such as government institutions and energy companies.

Target

When it comes to cyber-crime, former Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has experienced it firsthand. The massive retail chain suffered from a security breach that compromised the data of as many as 40 million credit-card users and personal data from as many as 70 million of Target’s customers. Target is perhaps the best example of how cyber-crime can affect a business, as the company lost billions in sales as well as their customers’ confidence.

Carly Rae Jepsen and Christopher David Long

Some of the most well-known cyber-crime scandals target famous people. Such was the case with Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen. Her personal data, including naked photos, was stolen in 2012 by hacker Christopher David Long, who attempted to sell his findings to the gossip tabloids.

David Benjamin “Fortezza” Schooten

David Benjamin Schrooten, better known as Fortezza, was part of a cyber-criminal group who stole over 100,000 credit card numbers and then proceeded to sell the details in a highly organized underground business. Fortezza was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in jail after he was caught in Romania.

FBI’s Most Wanted

The FBI has managed to track down and apprehend many of these cyber criminals, however, there are still those who are at large and have made it on to the FBI’s most-wanted cyber criminals list.

Among the cyber criminals is a Russian man named Alexsey Belan who is wanted for a string of crimes including alleged aggravated identity theft, fraud in connection with a computer and the computer intrusion of three important United States e-commerce companies and the stealing of their data. The FBI are currently offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of Alexsey Belan.

Peteris Sahurovs, who is currently thought to be in Rezekne, Latvia, is also wanted by the FBI for his alleged involvement in an international cybercrime scheme which used a virus to defraud unknowing internet users as well as creating a fictitious advertising agency to use as a front to fraudulently advertise and lure people into his infection scheme

Russian Artem Semenov makes FBI’s most wanted list because he is believed to have been a part of an Eastern European cybercrime organization who were operating out of New York. Semenov is wanted for conspiracy to commit bank fraud, the use of a counterfeit passport and conspiracy to possess false identification documents.

How can people protect themselves?

When it comes to cyber-crime, contrary to what you may think, we are not helpless victims. In fact, there are several measures that you can take to ensure that you don’t get duped. The most simple and basic step is to keep up to date with your security software, including antivirus, firewall and malware protection. Make sure your computer is regularly scanned for malware and has been securely configured, with a focus especially on your browser, as this is where you’re most likely to fall victim to cyber criminals.

When it comes to preventing cyber-crimes, password security and protection are important factors and they should be kept secure at all times. This means that you should not store your passwords where they could potentially be hacked. Your passwords should change on a regular basis and be complicated and unique. Prevention is your best defense and simple procedures such as these will help ensure that you are not a sitting duck for cyber criminals and they will move on to a much easier target.

Find John on Google+