Examples of Cybercrime Cases

As computer crimes have been around for over 40 years, let’s first of all find out, what the cybercrime is. 

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime refers to any illegal activity conducted using computers or the Internet. Cybercriminals – from unscrupulous individuals to organized criminal groups to state-sponsored groups – use techniques such as phishing, social engineering, and all types of malware in their cyberattacks. Learn how cybercrime works and how you can protect yourself.

When people hear the world “cybercriminal” or “hacker”, the following image often comes to mind – a gloomy or weird guy in a dark hoodie is typing something on his PC. While this image has become firmly entrenched in the public, the actual appearance of a cybercriminal is completely different: cybercrime is often incredibly organized and professional.

Cybercriminals buy and sell malware online (generally on the darknet) while offering services to test the robustness of a virus, business intelligence dashboards where the latest malware is offered, and technical support (that's right, even cybercriminals can contact a criminal hotline to fix bugs of illegal hacking servers or errors in other criminal activities!).

The professionalization and proliferation of cybercrime causes immense financial damage to individuals, businesses, and even governments every year. Some assessments estimate that cybercrime damages will reach $6 trillion annually this year. As the Internet of Things (IoT) evolves and smart devices become more popular, cybercriminals benefit from a much broader attack surface – a variety of ways to breach security measures, gain unauthorized access and commit crimes.


How to tell if you've been a victim of cybercrime?

Although it's sometimes difficult to tell if you've been a victim of cybercrime, some crimes leave obvious signs:

Malware infection: Your computer may run slowly and send you various error messages. Your antivirus software may also detect a malware infection.

Phishing or pharming attack: you may find suspicious charges on your credit card or other vulnerable accounts.

Keylogger: you may see strange symbols, or your messages may start adding duplicate text.

Botnet: If your computer gets involved in a botnet, it may be hard to detect.

Cryptojacking: you may see increased power bills.

Generally, sudden drops in performance or strange way of operating of your PC, tablet or cell phone indicate that you may have been the target of a cyber attack. If you think you've fallen victim to a cyber attack, be sure to take the time to report it. 
How you can mitigate the risk of cybercrime occurrence?

The best way to protect yourself from cybercrime is to make sure to behave sensibly on the Internet. Here are some sensible surfing habits that will help you protect yourself on the Internet on a daily basis:

•    Be wary of emails with dubious links or attachments you weren't expecting.
•    Don't download anything from unknown sources.
•    Make sure you are on a legitimate website before entering personal information.
•    Always run software updates immediately (they close security holes).
•    Don't use unencrypted public Wi-Fi (in cafes, airports, etc.) without a VPN.
•    Use strong, unique passwords. Do not use the same password for multiple accounts.
•    Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
•    Increase the security of your router to protect your home network.
•    Protect yourself from malware, a cybercriminal's most powerful weapon.

In addition to the common-sense tips above, the strongest line of defense against cybercrime is to use a robust antivirus program


General examples of cybercrime


Computer viruses are the archetype of cybercrime. Viruses infect computer systems, destroy files, affect overall functionality, and replicate themselves to spread to other devices and systems. Viruses are actually a form of malware that includes all types of malicious software: Code or programs that are written and distributed to cause damage, steal data, generate profit for their owner, and generally make your life miserable. This includes ransomware that locks your files until you pay a ransom for decryption, and adware that spams you with ads.

Identity theft and other forms of fraud

While identity theft is not exclusively a form of cybercrime, it is much more likely to be implemented with technology these days. If a hacker wants to commit identity theft or credit card fraud, they must first access enough of their victim's personal information to commit the crime. The following techniques are often used for gaining access:


Cybercriminals use "bait" in the form of fraudulent messages to lure victims to fake websites where they unwittingly enter personal information such as usernames, passwords, or banking information.


Pharming goes a step further than phishing and uses malware to redirect unsuspecting Internet surfers to fake versions of websites where they unwittingly enter their personal information.


This type of malware (or more precisely, spyware) secretly logs everything you type and captures your account information and other personal data.


If you are connected to an unsecured, unencrypted public Wi-Fi network, hackers can steal your data by "sniffing" your Internet traffic with special tools (unless you have a VPN, of course).

Although hackers have many ways to steal personal data, there are also some suitable methods to prevent identity theft. Avoid accessing your personal accounts (especially online banking) over public Wi-Fi, and set up a monitoring service to make sure your online accounts haven't been hacked.


Cyberbullying refers to all types of online harassment, including stalking, sexual harassment, doxing (disclosing a person's personal information, such as their physical address, online without their consent), and fraping (breaking into a person's social media and creating fake posts in their name).


Cryptojacking is when hackers break into your device and use it to capture cryptocurrency without your knowledge or consent. Cryptominers do this by using JavaScript to infect your device after visiting an infected website. 


Cyberextortion is exactly what it sounds like – a digital version of the nightmare of extortion. One of the most common forms is ransomware, when hackers infect your computer with malware that encrypts all your files until you pay them a ransom to unlock them. Cyberextortion can also refer to blackmailing victims using their personal data, photos and videos, or threatening businesses with methods like botnet-driven DDoS attacks.

We’ve also gathered some of the most significant cybercrime cases: 

An early case of cybercrime

One of the most famous cybercrimes is also one of the oldest. It began in 1970: a teller at the Union's Dime Savings Bank in New York regularly stole part of the money deposited by customers. To prevent his personal enrichment from being discovered, he had simply adjusted the customer receipts in the bank's central computer after closing time. Although the man had no computer skills worth mentioning, he managed to fool both the account holder and his superiors. The cashier was only caught by chance: during a routine check of a betting office, the New York police found evidence that the cashier in question had a penchant for sports betting, for which he spent up to 30,000 dollars on some days. His official annual income, however, was only $11,000

Cybercrime extortion attempt

In January 2000, a Russian hacker gained access to data records of 300,000 customers of the online retailer Cduniverse.com. Using the captured credit card data, the attacker intended to extort $100,000 from the online department store under the alias Maxim. However, he had not reckoned with Cduniverse's reaction. The Internet retailer simply did not respond at all of the data thief's demands.

Hacker steals rocket code

In December 2000, the hacker "Leaf" stole the source code of a system that can be used to manipulate military missile guidance systems. The cunning hacker penetrated the network of the Naval Research Lab in Washington and stole two thirds of the so-called OS/Comet software, which is used for missile and satellite control. The fact that the data thief did not manage to steal the entire software was purely a matter of luck. The U.S. investigators doggedly pursued the hacker to the University of Kaiserslautern, where every trace was lost.

Virus attack on NASA

One of the first documented attacks by hackers with a political motive took place in October 1989. The hackers, who remain anonymous to this day, let their so-called Wank worm off the leash. Wank stands for Worms Against Nuclear Killers. The target of the virtual malware was computers at the US aerospace agency NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland. After the worm had successfully spread in the target network, the surprised NASA employees found a message on their monitors that could be translated as something like: "You talk about peace for all and yet you are arming for war". The hackers wanted to prevent the launch of a plutonium-powered Jupiter probe.

The intruder strikes and brags

One of the most expensive cyber crimes in history took place in February 2000. Michael Demon Calce, a student from Montreal in Canada and just 15 years old, attacked the websites of numerous major corporations under the alias "Mafiaboy". These included Amazon, Yahoo, Fifa, Dell, CNN and many more. The teenager used so-called denial-of-service attacks for his attack. Mafiaboy used the computer systems of Stanford and California universities for the attack. Thus, the 15-year-old caused damage of about 1.2 billion dollars. Because he couldn't resist bragging about his deeds in various chats, the investigators quickly got on his trail. Although the hacker showed little remorse, a Canadian juvenile court sentenced him to only a small fine, eight months in open custody and restricted Internet access for a year.

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