Monday, February 18, 2019

Cyber criminality – a compass in the buzzword jungle

Data theft, fraud, extorting ransom money: the world of crime is increasingly moving into the digital realm. Police are having to deal with crimes involving digitalisation more and more often. Hackers and cyber criminals now have all sorts of methods that they can use to access internet users' login details or infect computers with harmful software. The Swiss Federal Office of Police now differentiates between more than 20 different types of cyber crime. We have listed the most common ones here:


The most common form of cyber crime. Phishing generally involves criminals sending emails with a falsified sender address to their victims or contacting their victims by telephone and pretending to be an employee of a software manufacturer or bank. They attempt to obtain passwords or access codes under false pretences. The criminals then either abuse the data acquired in this way themselves or sell it to third parties.

Infection with malware/spyware This is also very widespread. Malware is an umbrella term used to refer to programs (e.g. viruses) that inflict harm. A common form of malware is spyware. Spyware is normally installed when browsing dubious websites, downloading fake security software or opening infected attachments or files. Once the computer is infected, an attacker is able to access data or e.g. make transfers from accounts that do not belong to them.

Romance scam

Scammers set up fake profiles on dating websites and woo their victims. They lead their victims to believe that they are in love and that they will meet up. As soon as the victims – usually women – develop feelings, they are exploited and betrayed. They are often persuaded to transfer money to bail their supposed online partner out.

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With this form of pretend online flirting, men are usually the victim. They are contacted on social media or dating websites and encouraged to perform sexual acts via a video communication platform, which are recorded. The scammers then threaten to post the footage online and blackmail the victims.

Police ransomware

The computer is blocked by malware. A purportedly official notification appears, demanding that the person concerned pays a fine to unlock their computer.

Identity theft

The scammers collect and copy the data and photos of a victim that are freely available online and use them to create a profile. Using this false identity, scammers can create profiles on various platforms and place orders, for instance.


This mainly involves the scammers contacting minors in chat rooms. They give compliments and attention to their victims and show understanding in order to build trust and attempt to obtain intimate details and nude photos. The photos carelessly sent by the victims are then used to blackmail them or pressure them to send more photos.

Cyber risks: How can I protect myself?

Would you like to know how to protect yourself from ill-intentioned hackers? Download our cyber security guide and learn how.

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