The Most Common Examples of Cybercrimes

July 10, 2020 • Zachary Amos


Are you familiar with common examples of cybercrimes?

As the powerful digital realm expands with new capabilities every day, cybercrimes do as well. These crimes occur when cybercriminals breach networks, systems and computers in various ways to extract personal information from individuals or companies. When these crimes occur, credit cards, social security numbers and bank information can all become public knowledge. To best prepare for these attacks, it’s important to know the most common examples of cybercrimes. 


Phishing is one of the most common instances of cybercrime both for individuals and businesses. Often, these scams will appear in emails, suspicious advertisements or messaging services. You may receive an email that poses as a friend, neighbor or your boss asking for personal information. These emails ask you to click on URLs or attachments, which will contain malware that completes the hack. 

Many email services are improving their ability to catch and filter these emails into spam automatically, but some still slip through as hackers step up their game. Americans have lost millions of dollars from individual phishing scams alone. It’s important to recognize these instances and report them.


Malware is a broad term that encompasses any software that damages, disrupts or depletes another system. Hackers can send malware in phishing emails, implement it through a hack or falsely advertise it as a helpful product, like a virus blocker. These can cause damage to users, breach data and lead to theft of personal information. 

Additionally, ransomware is a form of malware in which cybercriminals hold personal information ransom and demand a certain amount of money in return. This dangerous form of cybercrime can devastate an individual’s computer, finances or personal life. 


A botnet builds upon the idea of malware and expands it for hackers to implement more widely. A botnet is a network of computers that run one or more bots — cybercriminals have infected these computers with malware, compromising each of them. Due to these wide connections, hackers can then scale up their breaches and spam. 

Once a hacker compromises the computers, they can externally and remotely initiate attacks. Now that the Internet of Things (IoT) is leading innovations for technology, botnets have started integrating this tech. For cybercrime, this connection could grow in the future and lead to more botnet attacks. 


A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack is another common form of cybercrime. This attack targets servers and resources on a large scale to extract personal data and information. A DDoS breach may use a botnet to maximize its effect, too. For instance, Italy’s social security website faced a DDoS attack amid a peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As residents attempted to apply for financial assistance on the website, hackers initiated a DDoS attack that brought the servers down, allowing the criminals to infiltrate the system. However, it’s unclear whether or not they accessed and stole any data or personal information. Regardless, breaches like these are examples of cybercrimes that can affect people on a country-wide scale. 

Identity Theft

Identity theft is something that affects millions of people all over the globe per year. There are two types of identity theft. First, fraud occurs when attackers access an account that’s not theirs and use those resources, money and accounts. A stolen credit card that a criminal then uses for purchases is an example of fraud. 

Full identity theft then occurs when a cybercriminal hacks into a user’s online accounts and assumes their identity. They pretend to be that person and use their finances and resources as if it’s all their own. Since millions of people face this threat, it’s important to take proactive measures for protection. 

Steps for Protection

To take the proper steps to protect yourself or your business from cybercrime, you’ll need to find out which example you’re most vulnerable to. If it’s phishing, you might want to install filters on your email. If it’s DDoS, you’ll want to look into better encryption and cybersecurity for your company. 

With knowledge of these examples of cybercrimes, you’ll be able to take the next steps for protection. When you take the time to secure your digital presence, you ensure you are doing all you can to stay ahead of cyber threats.