Cybercrime Against Property: What to Know About This Illegal Act

September 11, 2020 • Zachary Amos


The Internet’s broad reach makes cybercrime a prevalent problem. Such actions fall into three categories:

  • Cybercrime against property
  • Cybercrime against the government
  • Cybercrime against people/a person

We’ll focus on the first type here: cybercrime against property. This can take many different forms. These forms include cybercrime against:

  • Computers
  • Confidential data
  • Connected cars
  • Home gadgets

Let’s dive into what all these types of cybercrime against property entail and what you can do to stay safe from them.

Cybercrime Against Computers — A Common Type

The kind of cybercrime most people know involves acts to harm computers. A person might create a virus, then attach it to an email. If the message convinces the recipient to download the dangerous attachment, that action infects their computer. Severe computer viruses affect entire networks, forcing people to switch to pen-and-paper methods until IT security teams resolve the issue.

Some sources also put computer vandalism under the cybercrime against property umbrella. However, they’re outside of the scope of this topic. The criminals destroy machines used to access cyberspace, but their attacks don’t originate there.

Mishandling of Confidential Data — Another Cybercrime Threat to Property

People often forget that workplace files are another type of property often associated with cybercrime. Employees may take confidential data owned by a company — such as client lists or details about unreleased products — with them when leaving businesses to pursue other opportunities. Some individuals genuinely don’t realize the wrongdoing or do it by accident. Others understand they’re crossing the line and hope they won’t get caught.

In one instance, a pharmaceutical executive found himself facing a lawsuit after allegedly taking thousands of proprietary documents containing trade secrets and other sensitive information before departing to work at another organization. The person obtained the materials by uploading some of the content to a USB drive and transferring the rest from his work email to a personal account.

Crimes Against Connected Cars — A Worrying Possibility

A 2019 report from a nonprofit group raised concerns about massive attacks simultaneously compromising connected vehicles. The document pointed out that the United States’ top 10 automakers account for 95% of cars in the nation, and most of those vehicles share a computer system security flaw.

Technical analysts suggested that cybercriminals could exploit this vulnerability to affect thousands of passengers and drivers at once. Doing that during rush hour in a major metropolitan area could cause approximately 3,000 fatalities, they advised in the study.

Cybersecurity researchers have already demonstrated various ways hackers could interfere with a connected car’s functionality. Experiments let them successfully impact the air conditioner, windshield wipers, brakes, steering capabilities and other important parts of an automobile. The findings of the above report could pan out. The only fortunate thing is that hackers have not yet tried to affect many cars at once.

The Rise of Tech Abuse — A Troubling Way for Disgruntled People to Wreak Havoc

Researchers also recently highlighted an issue that will almost certainly make you think differently about connected home gadgets. They explained how ex-partners or other angry individuals could use smart home technology to terrorize people in the residency.

Their findings showed that one domestic violence charity in the United Kingdom recorded more than 920 instances of technology-facilitated abuse. The authors pointed out that they can’t estimate the full extent of the problem because there is no system to record such cases throughout the entire region. However, they advise domestic violence support workers to collaborate with internet security researchers and learn more about how to help those in need to minimize their risks.

A woman in the U.S. who experienced tech abuse first hand described how her partner traumatized her. He monitoring her on the home’s security cameras from outside of the residence, woke her up in the middle of the night by making the stereo play loud music and turning the lights and TVs on and off.

It’s also easy to envision other terrible scenarios. Imagine if an angry ex-partner still had access to a home via a smart lock app and used those privileges to rob a house or damage its contents. Some smart faucets also allow a person to turn them on from anywhere in the house while connected to a local Wi-Fi network. In that case, a perpetrator could stand in the driveway and activate the taps while a home’s rightful occupant is away, possibly making them return to tremendous water damage.

Protecting Yourself From Cybercrime Against Property

Property-based cybercrime is scary, but you are not powerless to stop it. Here are some things to do for increased safety:

  • Report suspicious email attachments instead of opening them
  • Run antivirus programs on your computer
  • Restrict confidential information to the appropriate parties and remove privileges as appropriate
  • Maintain strong passwords and change them often
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations about receiving connected car software updates
  • Limit the number of people that can access your smart home technology
  • Change the passwords to all smart home apps and gadgets when there’s a change in occupancy at your house

Awareness Fights Cybercrime

Cybercrime is progressively more advanced, and that reality can scare some people. Knowing about how an online crime could affect your property is the first step to preventing such incidents. The information here lets you take crucial action in getting more informed about this essential issue.