Cyber Crime and Identity Theft


For you and me Cyber Crime is a term used to describe the illegal or un-authorised access of our personal data from a computer.

By obtaining such personal information, bank accounts can be emptied or people can pose as you to gain all many of goods and services, leaving you with the bill(Identity Theft).

Knowing someone’s full name, date of birth and address can be enough to trigger Identity theft. Add in bank details and additional personal information like mother’s maiden name and they are golden.

For those concerned with all elements of Identify theft check out.  


Now, we have Smart phones, with the power of a small computer and all our banks and credit card organisations queuing up to offer Apps(application software) to enable us to communicate with them.

This section looks at the Threats to our mobile phones.

The separate Protection section describes how we can neutralise those threats.

So let us begin.


The basic form of hacking is someone physically getting to your computer/phone and then helping themselves to your personal information.

You may have no PIN/Password, or they may have ‘hacked it’ to gain access.

But what if the criminal cannot physically get to your computer or smart phone?

SPAM emails

We have all had unsolicited emails from people or companies, offering a range of goods or services. Your Internet Service Provider(ISP) fights a constant battle against SPAM and complex software is required to detect and remove such emails.

Many ISPs offer you a SPAM mailbox, into which those emails they are unsure about are placed for you to check.




Remember criminals want your details. Phishing emails are one way of doing this. They have two forms.

  1. An email that informs you your long lost African relative has left you $10miilion and that all they need is your bank details to transfer the money!
  2. An email that looks like it came from your bank and asks you to click on a web site link. The link takes you to a web sites that looks like yours but is in fact a fake. Once you enter your user-id and password they will simple empty your account.

Remember banks never ask for your details via email.

Also,  when you access a valid bank web pages the address will start ‘https’, where the ‘s’ stands for secure.


Always check for the https: when doing ANY banking/credit card transaction on the Internet

Using a Virus

To catch a cold you must first consume the cold virus, which then triggers the reaction and hence cold symptoms.

Same applies to a computer virus. Through whatever method, you trigger it on your device and it then goes about its business.

Virus triggers

In computer speak, to have to execute/run a piece of code that contains the virus.

A virus can arrive via various routes:

  1. A file attached to an email. Once you click to open the file, you have in fact execute the virus.
  2. Download an infected image of file from the Internet.
  3. A web page prompts you to upgrade some software, you agree thinking you’re getting the latest media player say, when in fact the virus has just been executed.

Virus goals

Simply put a virus can:

  1. Harm  the information stored on your computer
  2. Collect vital information like email addresses, passwords and user-ids from your computer and send them to another computer. Called Spyware
  3. Hijack your computer’s processing power. Known as Zombie-Botnets. The zombie software infects hundreds or thousands of computers worldwide, to create a Botnet, usually controlled by organised crime syndicates.  Such syndicates extort money from companies by threatening to bring down their web or email services. This is done by the Botnet requesting all the Zombies to send emails/web requests at the same time(unbeknown to each user), which creates a Denial-of-Service attack effectively over running/flooding the target email or web server and causing it to crash.


The term vulnerabilities in computer speak refers to a flaw in the computer system. It takes someone to discover that flaw and then create some software to exploit it.

Those who exploit is are the same folks that create the viruses, so causing more havoc in the computing world. You will hear terms like ‘worms’ and ‘Trojans’ and they are capable of harming or collecting your personal information just like a virus.

Both manufacturers and legitimate internet organisations search for these vulnerabilities in computer code and software applications to fix them before they can be exploited.

Jailbreaking and Rooting

You Jailbreak an Apple device and you Root an Android device.

In short, both involve removing the manufacturer’s restrictions on what can and cannot be loaded on their particular device.

In so doing the user invalidates the warrantee on the device, and makes it more susceptible to the threats described above.

See the section iOS, Android, RIM for more details.


The Threats can be extensive and just like your PC/Laptop you must protect yourself.

Now read the section entitled Protection 


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