A cyber criminal is someone who utilizes computer, internet or any other technical skills to surreptitiously penetrate a network or system. The word cybercriminal can refer to anybody with computer skills, but more often it refers to a non-human hacker who uses their skills to obtain unauthorized access to networks or systems. Cyber criminals have become quite proficient at using various tactics to breach security systems and gain access to confidential information. There are different types of cyber crime, each of which can be prosecuted under specific federal statutes as well as state criminal codes.
Hackers can be categorized into two main subsets. There are general computer criminals, those who use their knowledge and skills for unlawful purposes such as extortion, identity theft, fraud, and other white-collar crimes; and there are those who use their skills for criminal motives such as performing crimes like bank robbery and attacks against corporations and government agencies. Most people characterize acts of violence that result from intrusions and cyber crimes carried out by hackers as isolated incidents, but in all likelihood they are part of a series of events that have taken place over time. An attack on a large company may have been started by one of the hacks targeting smaller businesses.
When a computer intrusion takes place, the usual suspects are the target of the hackers’ first mission. Often the target will be a government agency or a corporate entity, which is why so many public agencies and private firms have fallen victim to cyber attacks over the years. Most media outlets have referred to these acts of hacking as a “crackdown” on Internet activity, but this is actually a misnomer. While certain types of Internet activity may have been targeted, the overwhelming majority of hacked information comes from general Internet activity, rather than from a specifically targeted location.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) defines a “cybersecurity” breach as any instance in which an unauthorized person gains access to a protected computer system. For example, if a government employee who works in a government building breaks into a computer office and takes documents out, this would be considered a security breach. However, if a random consumer surfing the Web enters a secure network, such as a credit card company’s server, this would also qualify as a cyber security breach. In this case, the government is not the perpetrator. A mere technician or office worker with malicious intent could be responsible for the attack, so the term “cybersecurity breach” may be overbroad.
There are many different types of hacks, some of which are clearly intended to cause financial gain or to mislead the public. However, there are also a number of hacks that are purely political in nature and do not have any malicious intent. Regardless, of whether the hacktivists are government-sponsored or not, every instance of cybercrime has the same goal: to corrupted or destroy public or private computer systems.
Unfortunately, it is often not possible to determine whether a hack is malicious or not without getting in touch with a professional investigator. The same is true for fixing a computer system that has been compromised. Only an experienced and knowledgeable technician can assess whether your system needs to be repaired or if there is a preventive measure that could prevent further damage.