In recent years, criminals have shifted their efforts into cyberspace — with the right tools and know-how, they can commit crimes in the comfort of their living rooms. Cybercriminals today use malware, phishing and spam to scam victims out of various amounts of money. Whether it is online banking systems, email accounts or even online store memberships, everything is up for grabs because criminals can make a profit on virtually anything. While the field of technology is vast, you can protect yourself from most types of cybercrime by following a few simple tips.

How to Protect Yourself

When asking yourself "what is cybercrime?" it is crucial to note that it comes in many forms that you might not expect. The most important step to keep in mind when using the Internet is that you should never open emails that look suspicious. If a contest or offer seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is. Just as if you would avoid shady areas in the real world, it is crucial to avoid high-risk areas on the Internet when possible.

While common sense can help protect you from most Internet threats, it still is vital to install virus protection software onto your computer because it can help block malware from sources you don't expect. As antivirus software is built and maintained by world-class security firms dedicated to protecting consumers and businesses from most types of cybercrime, using virus protection is one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to improve your security.

Spam Email Prevention

In addition to protection against malware, you also should be alert for spam and phishing emails that attempt to steal your identity. Spam emails pose a threat to consumers because they're commonly laden with malware or, in many cases, they lead victims to malicious websites designed to scam individuals. Typical spam messages include off-shore pharmaceutical ads, pump-and-dump stock schemes and general unsolicited advertising. These emails lead the unwary to fake sites, which then usually include "notifications" about their accounts being at risk or needing updates. A simple click on these notifications will compromise your computer's security.

Phishing Prevention

Phishing is another common type of cybercrime. Victims receive an email — usually appearing to be from a bank or a financial institution — saying the victim's account is in jeopardy and that he or she must "confirm" some details to save the account. The emails contain links that appear to go to the proper financial site, however they actually go to the criminals' servers, where they steal your account credentials. As a rule of thumb, it is best to never click links in emails to get to a website. Instead, if you get a notice from a company, you can open your browser and type the website name directly into the address bar. If it turns out your account is OK, you can then call or email the company to report the phishing message.

Cybercrime Protection

To protect yourself from these threats along with malware, it is crucial to have a comprehensive Internet security suite installed on your system. Key features of Internet security suites include virus protection, spam filters, parental controls and many other safeguards to protect against all types of cybercrime. One of the most important features of such suites is cloud based security protection which ensures that when browsing the web, if you visit a malicious website, it will be blocked before you become a victim. Additionally safe banking software included with many suites adds an additional layer of protection by ensuring that when you visit a banking website, it actually is the legitimate entity.

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