What Are the Classifications of Cybercrimes?

June 19, 2020 • Zachary Amos


Cybersecurity is a growing issue in today’s increasingly digital world. Despite how widespread it is, though, you may not know much about it, which can be risky. To understand cybersecurity more fully, it helps to know things like the classifications of cybercrimes.

The government takes cybercrime as seriously as any other crime, assigning a massive $18 billion budget to fight it. Part of the fight against cybercrime is classifying it, so you can know how to address it. When you understand the different kinds of cybercrime, you can know what to look out for.
There’s no single consensus about how to classify cybercrime. If you look around the web, you’ll find all sorts of different labels and definitions. Generally, though, you can categorize everything into three main cybercrime classifications: that against property, against people and against governments.

Cybercrime Against Property

Cybercrime against property is probably the most common of the cybercrime classifications. As the name suggests, this kind of crime involves cybercriminals targeting property, usually money or other assets. Property cybercrime can be as serious as credit card theft or as mundane as copyright infringement.
Most cybercriminals out

there aren’t trying to attack you personally, but to take your money. Even extreme measures like ransomware are just attempts to steal or extort cash from people or businesses. That’s what makes cybercrimes against property so prevalent.
Though money is the most significant motivator for these crimes, it’s not the only one. This classification of cybercrime includes other kinds of property as well, like stealing or destroying intellectual property. Attacks that target your computer itself also fit into this category.

Cybercrime Against People

The main classifications of cybercrimes is against people. Property cybercrimes like credit card theft may seem like they fit here too, but generally, those aren’t quite attacking people themselves. Cybercrimes against people don’t target individuals’ belongings, but their wellbeing itself.

This cybercrime classification includes things like harassment, cyberstalking, social engineering and distributing false or harmful information. As you might’ve guessed, the consequences from these kinds of cyberattacks can be far more devastating than property crimes. Given their nature, they’re also typically harder to find or protect against.

These crimes are less common than property cybercrimes, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a prevalent issue. In 2019 alone, there were more than 15,000 reports of threats of violence from cybercriminals.

Cybercrime Against Government

The final classifications of cybercrimes is against the government. This is the least common type of cybercrime, but it has the potential to be the most damaging. Also called cyberterrorism, cybercrimes against governments involve targeting government websites, servers and information.
At their least threatening, these cyberattacks include things like exposing confidential information. At their worst, they can take the form of disrupting critical government operations like disaster or military responses. Terrorists and foreign enemy governments are typically behind these kinds of attacks.

Cyberterrorism isn’t just a hypothetical threat, either, even if it may seem that way. In March of 2018, a ransomware attack disabled more than 100 government programs in Atlanta, Georgia. Similar attacks have happened elsewhere in the U.S., as well as throughout Europe and Asia.

Addressing Classifications of Cybercrimes

The first step in any kind of response to any threat is understanding those threats. Knowing the classifications of cybercrimes will help you know what dangers you could face online. You can then take the appropriate steps to protect yourself.

Cybercrime can take many different forms, targeting a variety of people, organizations and things. Understanding how widespread and severe these threats are can encourage people to take cybersecurity seriously. No matter the classification, we must fight against cybercrime.