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Cybersecurity is at the forefront of everyday news. Cyber criminals steal money, identities and even post false claims to alter public opinion. The Internet has become an open playground for unscrupulous individuals to rob and pilfer, many never getting caught.

Hundreds parade around the Internet, performing illegal and unethical activities, without anyone even noticing. Here are two ways to help catch a cybercriminal and some advice on how to discourage their efforts.

Collective Collaboration

Tracking down someone, hiding under a shroud of cyber invisibility, is not an easy job. Everyone has a stake in the efforts. When cyber crooks are allowed to float freely around the Internet, their nefarious objectives become easier to pull off. Everyone needs to help in a collective effort to catch them.

People need to use the outlets that are available. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) estimates it receives notification of barely 10% of all Internet crimes. It’s hard to catch a thief if no one reports anything is ever stolen. Same goes 10-fold for a cyber criminal.

Without any collective collaboration from Internet users, catching these crooks is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Another way to make life difficult for cybercriminals is for people to log off when they’re not using their system.

An unattended, open login is akin to leaving the door unlocked when someone goes on vacation. Sure, no one may know, but then again, someone might walk right in and rob them blind. While it’s slightly different on the Internet, the potential risk of an open portal to secure accounts makes them unnecessarily vulnerable.

Search, Research, and Search Again

When suspicious activities are properly reported, it gives law enforcement agencies useful data to search for cyber criminals. Using expert research techniques, they search viable outlets for trends and consistently bogus things like emails and advertisements.

The process is called cyber forensic analytics. Through tireless research, law enforcement and cybersecurity specialists can present credible evidence to the courts. With this evidence, they can legally seize the suspected machines being used. When this happens, it is akin to the legal team finding the smoking gun.

All of this takes time and effort by the IC3, the FBI cyber division, and other high-profile law enforcement experts. To successfully put cyber criminals behind bars, often for as much as a decade, it has to begin with people reporting all suspicious activity. Then a skilled legal team and search research and search again until they nab the criminal.

How to Avoid Cyber Criminals

People cannot assume that because they are one inconsequential individual that they could not be a target. While many of the most notorious cyber criminals may prefer to focus on bigger fish, anyone can easily get caught in the web as collateral damage.

Installing and maintaining up-to-date antivirus software is the first common sense solution. However, technology users need to employ a defensive posture when navigating suspect websites, and especially when presented with suspicious requests to download.

Always err on the side of caution, because deceptive emails, with bogus attachments, are the quickest way for a cyber crook to hack a system. When a lot of time is spent navigating multiple websites, a full spyware scan needs to be run on a regular basis.

So, while they’re a hard criminal to nab, cyber criminals can be and are caught. It takes a collective effort from the honest Internet surfers and a lot of diligent research. Users can also take a few steps to put up difficult barriers to discourage an attacker.