Cyber crimes or Internet based crimes are not new. They have existed for quite some time. However, methods of attempting malicious acts have undergone change. Earlier, they were carried out to harm a computer user and make his/her system function abruptly. But today, obtaining financial gains has become prime motive of such activities. Digitalization of financial and other services has prompted cyber criminals to innovate their methodologies. This is how crimeware software evolved.
We all are aware of computer viruses, malware, and other Internet based notorious tools. But, “Crimeware” is a relatively new term. Let us delve into the concept in detail. It is a collective word used to refer to all the software or programs which have been exclusively designed to plot a crime through Internet.
There is no special category of applications which are called crimewares. In fact bots, Trojans, spy-wares, email Spam, and phishing kits are considered under crimewares if they are used as ploy to attempt a crime. These crimes, generally, include financial or identity thefts.
We need to understand that not all the software or applications, which are used to satisfy someone’s criminal motives, can be termed as crimewares. For example, Instant Messaging service software are often used by cyber attackers to bring about child abuse over Internet, but it cannot be called as crimeware. It is so, because Instant Messaging software was not devised exclusively for this purpose, instead it was used in a negative way. But, spy-ware, bots, and Trojan programs were meant for wrongful activities.
A computer program can be considered as crimeware if:
• It is used to bring about criminal activity
• The software is never desirable by a computer user in any circumstance
• It is meant expressly to carrying out the cyber crime, and not engage in it involuntarily
How are Crimewares Harmful?
These programs often use social engineering techniques to fool an unaware computer user into handing over his/her sensitive personal and financial details to a criminal. Almost all the crimeware programs are involved in stealing away sensitive information of Internet users by some way or the other. Generally, Trojans are used for these purposes. Crimewares bring about cyber crime in following ways:
• They might get silently installed on your computer and record each and every keystroke you make through your keyboard. More commonly called key-logger, such a software can capture your personal details and password while you engage in on-line banking. Moreover, most of these software send this information to a remote user through the Internet.
• Certain crimeware applications are dedicated to download other malicious software onto your system.
• Few of them are also enabled with the capability to allow a hacker to remotely control your PC.
• Certain applications, like the programs of a phishing kit, direct you to a counterfeit website which is meant to harvest your sensitive personal and financial information.
Some of the crimeware applications are so sophisticated that they are designed to go unnoticed even by a strong firewall or Internet security tool. They easily fool and evade detection or scan by your most advanced anti-virus.
How do they get into your PC?
These notorious applications, coming over the Internet, exploit vulnerabilities in your browser. However, certain other crimeware programs plot a targeted attack by using social engineering techniques. They direct you to hoax web pages and fool you into giving out your sensitive personal details.
A crimeware can be harmful for an individual PC user as well as huge organizations. It may affect directly to a victim or to third party individuals. Strong and reliable security applications must be used to combat crimewares. Additionally, your computer safety program must be updated to recognize latest risks. You must install safety patches for your operating system and other applications on your PC. Remember, your computer’s security can never be perfect, therefore, browse safely and intelligently.