Famous Examples of Cybercrime

In modern times, one issue that millions of people worldwide are constantly under the threat of due to the popularity of the internet is cybercrime. Cybercrime is any crime that is carried out using a computer or the Internet. It can be done in a multitude of ways, such as hacking, piracy, identity theft, various types of fraud, and more. Some cases of cybercrime have become infamous either due to the number of people they affected, the scale of the crime, or simply how often the crime has been used. This essay will list several famous examples of cybercrime, what effects they had, and how they became famous.

Possibly the most famous example of cybercrime is what is known as the 419 scam, sometimes called the Nigerian Prince scam. The 419 scam is a type of advance-fee scam in which the scammer offers the victim a large amount of money in exchange for an up-front payment. It is also known as the Nigerian Prince scam due to many scammers posing as Nigerian princes or important figures from other countries to make the scam seem more legitimate. This instance of cybercrime has become famous online because of how common it was to receive an email from a scammer posing as a Nigerian prince and because of the absurdity of the idea that a Nigerian prince is asking people for money. Despite the absurdity of such a concept, the 419 scam is still a popular form of cybercrime due to its high success rate, with a 2006 study estimating that Americans had lost $198.4 million to this scam (Rosenberg).

Possibly the largest example of cybercrime in terms of how many people were affected is the 2013 Yahoo! data breach. In August 2013, hackers were able to breach the account data on Yahoo!, and it was initially claimed that over 1 billion user accounts were affected (Goel and Perlroth). However, Yahoo! later stated that all 3 billion accounts at the time of the breach were affected in some way. During the investigation of the breach, it was discovered that this included the accounts of government and military officials in the United States, Canada, European Union, the UK, and Australia. The breach was initially reported in December 2016, three years after the breach took place, and the statement about how every account was affected was made in October 2017. It is also believed that this data breach could have influenced the hacking of accounts on other sites due to the use of backup emails and security questions on Yahoo!.

One example of cybercrime that had a drastic effect on not just the Internet, but on the online economy, is the WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017. This ransomware targeted Windows computers and encrypted the data on these computers while demanding a ransom in return using Bitcoin. Despite Microsoft being able to stop the cyberattack, the attack is estimated to have caused damages up to several billion dollars after accessing more than 200,000 computers in 150 countries (Berr). The attack had a huge effect on the National Health Service in the UK, with computers, MRI scanners, refrigerators, and more being affected by the attack. After investigating the cyberattack, many experts claimed that the attack originated from North Korea, and many countries afterwards asserted that North Korea was behind this attack.

A common theme throughout all three examples was the number of people who were affected and the damage they created. The sheer scale of these attacks shows that despite our best efforts to protect privacy and create a safe Internet, there are people who can still access private information and cause harm. Millions of people are affected by cybercrime every year, and with the popularity of the Internet only continuing to rise, it is likely that more people with malicious intent will commit cybercrime. The best way to deal with this is to invest in better security for the Internet and for people to protect their privacy as much as possible. Cybercrimes like these will only become more commonplace, so the best way to prevent it is to have better security to stop it before it even starts.

Works Cited

  1. Berr, Jonathan. “WannaCry” ransomware attack losses could reach $4 billion. 16 May 2017. 11 October 2018.
  2. Goel, Vindu and Nicole Perlroth. Yahoo Says 1 Billion User Accounts Were Hacked. 14 December 2016. 11 October 2018.
  3. Rosenberg, Eric. U.S. Internet fraud at all-time high / ‘Nigerian’ scam and other crimes cost $198.4 million. 31 March 2007. 11 October 2018.
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