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What is Computer Fraud?

You don't have to be an expert in business marketing to know that E-commerce is here to stay.  Throughout the globe, more consumers have discovered the convenience of this system and now feel comfortable purchasing goods and services online.  As the internet continues to thrive with technology and millions in sales, the malicious crime of computer fraud has become an issue bigger than the experts ever could have predicted. 

In modern times, hackers are more than just bored teenagers with a few computer skills.  Cyber criminals of today are made up of sophisticated professionals who have chosen to use their talents for fraudulent purposes.  These individuals have easy access to advanced software that enable them to remotely manipulate your computer to obtain the sensitive information they seek.  To make matters worse, you can be a victim of computer fraud without even knowing your machine has been compromised. 

In order to protect yourself against this type of fraud, it is important to first learn more about it. 

The Basis of Computer Fraud

An internet attacker needs access to your personal information before they are able to victimize you.  Many of them use malicious programs known as spyware to obtain it.  Spyware is a type of software often used by hackers and legitimate companies.  Once installed onto a computer, it has the ability to monitor a user's activity and collect information without their knowledge or consent.  Whether you know it or not, your computer automatically stores numerous files that contain your most sensitive data including your name, address, telephone number and email domain.  This information is often found in virtual storage units such as your browser history, cache or temporary internet files.  A sophisticated piece of spyware can easily retrieve this information and report the details back to the source that launched it. 

Spyware is typically able get into a system by manipulating a Microsoft technology known as Active X.  Active X is a web-based language that adds ease to the process of surfing the internet.  This technology makes it possible to view many of your favorite web pages.  However, when Active X is manipulated by a cyber criminal, it can then be used to install spyware and other malicious programs onto your system.

From computer to easy theft

Once a criminal has access to your data, they have all the ammunition needed to commit computer fraud.  This information can then be used to accrue debt, open accounts and even receive medical benefits in your name.  A worst case scenario involves your identity being completely stolen, a growing issue that is quite difficult to rectify.  In most cases, victims of identity theft spend months or years attempting to clear their name and repair damaged credit.  Until these issues are resolved, you are likely to be refused for credit, mortgage and automobile loans.  You may even find yourself in trouble with the law for crimes you didn't commit. 

Computer fraud has the power to be one of the devastating crimes you'll ever experience.  For this reason, protecting the personal data in your computer should be a top priority.  This can be done by implementing solid security in the way of firewalls, anti-virus programs and intrusion detection systems.  If you plan on discarding a computer, be sure to completely erase the contents of your hard drive.  Like the saying goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure."

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In 2003, more than 10 million Americans fell victim to identity theft.

Identity theft costs business and individuals $53 billion dollars annually

In 2003, Americans spent 300 million hours resolving issues related to identity theft.

70% of all identity theft cases are perpetrated by a co-worker or employee of an affiliated business.