If you want to be a true cyber security expert, an online information technology degree is the best path. However, anyone can protect themselves from common crimes committed online.

Hands on a computer keyboard. An image of a lock is superimposed on the computer screen.

Personal computing pioneer Mitchell Kapor once said, “Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.” It’s true that the Internet is a seemingly endless source of useful information—but because users can be naturally vulnerable, it’s also become the go-to point of attack for criminals worldwide.

Cyber crime first came onto the scene in the 1970s, long before we ever realized a need for antivirus software, information technology degrees, or cyber security. Back then, hackers would break into computerized phone systems in order to make free long-distance calls. Today’s crimes are far more sophisticated—and far more dangerous. In fact, according to a 2017 report by the world's largest dedicated security company, McAfee, cyber crime costs the global economy more than $600 billion a year.*

While there are a number of government and law enforcement agencies working behind the scenes to combat illegal Internet activities, it’s important to recognize the top forms of cyber security breaches and understand how to protect yourself.

In the world of cyber crimes, the range of threats grows just as fast as new technologies, making information security a fast-growing field. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of information security analysts is predicted to grow as much as 28% by the year 2026 and they have a median pay of $95,510. To meet that demand, more students are choosing online learning degrees related to the cyber security field, such as a BS in Information Technology or even an IT master’s degree.

There is no doubt that we’ll count on the next generation of information security specialists to make new strides in the area of online security. However, in the meantime, it’s important to remember that we all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and combating cyber crime.

There is no doubt that we’ll count on the next generation of information security specialists to make new strides in the area of online security. However, in the meantime, it’s important to remember that we all have a role to play in protecting ourselves and combating cyber crime.

Type The Scam Prevention Tip
Phishing

Phishing websites are designed to mimic legitimate sites in hopes of tricking consumers into entering their most sensitive data.

Use a phishing filter on your Web browser to scan for websites that have been identified as phishing sites.
Identity Theft Cyber criminals who have gained access to your credit card or banking account may make purchases in your name. Closely monitor your accounts and report any suspicious e-mails, websites, or pop-up surveys.
Online Harassment Online threats are sent through social media outlets in order to bully and harass. Report bullying activity, even if you know the person, and keep a close watch on the online activities of your children.
Cyber Stalking Cyber stalkers may monitor online activities using malware and are known to harass their victims and even contact acquaintances in an effort to slander them. Treat cyber stalking the same way you would online harassment and report the activity to the authorities.
Invasion of Privacy Hackers interested in intruding on someone’s personal life will hack into their computer, read e-mails, and monitor their online activities. Install and update antispyware or antivirus programs for protection.

*McAfee Center for Strategic and International Studies, Net Losses: Estimating the Global Cost of Cybercrime, on the Internet at www.mcafee.com/us/resources/reports/rp-economic-impact-cybercrime2.pdf.

†Enigma Software, “Top 5 Popular Cybercrimes: How You Can Easily Prevent Them,” on the Internet at www.enigmasoftware.com/top-5-popular-cybercrimes-how-easily-prevent-them.

‡Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Internet Security Analysts, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/information-security-analysts.htm