6 Types of Cybercriminals and How They Operate | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack | #education | #technology | #infosec


The continuous rise in cybercrime shows that cybercriminals are always looking for opportunities to compromise networks. As an internet user, you could be their next victim.

How do you protect yourself if you don’t know what you are up against? Understanding the types of cybercriminals out there and how they operate helps you to be several steps ahead of them. Talk about channeling knowledge into power.

Who Are Cybercriminals?


Cybercriminals are people or groups of individuals who commit illegal, malicious actions through the use of computers or cyberspace.

Their key aim is to alter or infect data for their selfish interests. They do this through their knowledge of human behavior, computer skills, and various techniques like Cross-Site Scripting to gain unauthorized entrance into their victim’s networks.

In most cases, cybercriminals don’t choose a particular victim as their prey. You could become a target if you click on unknown links, expose your sensitive information on the web, or download malware files from unlicensed sites.

Sometimes, one could be the specific target of a cyber attack. The attacker takes advantage of the information they have about you to penetrate your network. This type of attack doesn’t always end in financial extortion. It can result in online bullying, stalking, or leaking your sensitive information on the web for fun or revenge.

6 Types of Cybercriminals and How They Operate

Cybercriminal on Computer

There are different types of cybercriminals. Each of them has their own unique ways of operating. To protect yourself from these online criminals, you must be able to identify their modus operandi.


Here are the common types of cybercriminals.

1. Hacktivists

Hacktivists are a group of cybercriminals who unite to carry out cyberattacks based on a shared ideology. This ideology could be political, regional, social, religious, anarchist, or even personal. It’s a combination of hacking and activism.

While some hacktivist groups prefer to stay anonymous, some don’t. There are notable notorious ones over the years. They are the DkD[||, Cult of the Dead Cow, Syrian Electronic Army, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and LulzSec.

Their targets are specific government agencies, influential individuals, and multinational companies where they expose their activities or injustices.

Hacktivists use special tools to gain entry into an organization’s websites to leak information. They pass across their message and gain attention for the cause they’re agitating for through this action.

2. Script Kiddies

Script kiddies, also referred to as skids or skiddies, are less experienced individuals who use existing software or scripts to launch attacks on computers and networks. These hackers solely depend on other skilled hackers’ software or programs to attack and have zero knowledge of modifying or upgrading the software or scripts.

Script kiddies usually find and prefer the simple route to hack a network as they don’t like to devote their energy to seek another path.

These cybercriminals are not interested in the monetary aspect but are in it for fun or to show off to their friends or colleagues. They are majorly teenagers and primarily target very unprotected website admins, schools, and gaming networks.

3. State Actors

State actors are cybercriminals backed by the government to forcefully target another government, individual, or organization.

They have the license to hack into any network as requested by the government to unlawfully gain, create, or influence their targets’ data.

State actors usually work with the military or intelligence unit of the country that employs them, and they possess a high level of expertise in hacking.

Since the chances of arresting them are thin, they work with no fear because of their governmental backing.

The government uses the illegal data possessed by state actors to control and manipulate an economy in its favor.

4. Insider Threats

A security attack within a targeted organization is called an insider threat. Here, the cybercriminal could be an ex-employee or business associate who still has access or login details to the company database. It could also be a current employee or an associate of the company abusing the access they have.

This type of cybercrime is more dangerous and significantly costlier than an external attack.

There are three types of insider threats:

  • The malicious insider: A current employee who intentionally commits an attack.
  • The negligent insider: An employee who unintentionally exposes sensitive data through human error.
  • Third-party or mole: A former associate who managed to gain access to the network.

5. Scammers

Scammers are individuals who use deceptive schemes to trick money or valuable items from their victims. They target less tech-savvy victims who can’t differentiate between real and fake.

Operating mainly through phone calls, emails, and text messages, scammers disguise as company representatives to sell bogus sale discounts or fake visa lotteries. They also go into dating apps to pretend to be a prospective companion to people looking for genuine romantic partners.

6. Cybercrime Groups

Also known as hackers groups, cybercrime groups work together anonymously to build tools, software, access, information, and scripts for hacking. They also organize tutorials and form communities for people interested in hacking.

An organization that wants to examine its network security strength through penetration testing, for instance, can hire cybercrime groups.

Since they love to stay anonymous, most cybercrime groups are more present on the dark web than on the standard web.

How to Secure Your Network From Cybercriminals

Man Typing on Computer

When we talk about the dangers of cybercrime, it might tempt you to avoid the internet completely, but you shouldn’t.

Here are some practical ways to protect yourself from cyberattacks as you surf the web.

1. Learn More About Cybersecurity

Educating yourself on cybersecurity makes you knowledgeable about network cyber threats and how to avoid them.

There are tons of information on the web to help you become more aware of security, including the article you are reading now.

2. Educate the Kids and the Elderly

While you educate yourself on significant security breaches, kids and seniors shouldn’t be left out.

Most cyber identity thieves aim at kids and seniors since they are less tech-savvy. Educate them on protecting their social security numbers, credit information, and other sensitive information.

It would help to encourage them to speak out when they feel vulnerable or threatened online.

3. Use Strong Passwords

Instead of repeating the same passwords on different web pages, change them periodically. Repeating the same passcode can risk all the logins on other websites. Create strong passwords with different letters, numbers, and symbols.

4. Update Software

Flaws on operating systems and software are always the main entry for hackers. And that’s because they create vulnerabilities in systems.

Keep all your software updated and avoid downloading software from unknown sources.

You can’t be overly secured online. Be wary of unfamiliar text messages, emails, and phone calls; anyone can be a threat. Take it further by using a trusted VPN to secure your online presence if you don’t like the idea of being monitored, especially when using public Wi-Fi.

Double-check links before clicking on them to prevent phishing.

Be Alert to Cyber Threats

Your attitude to cybersecurity determines the impact cyberattacks will have on you. If you are alert and proactive in your cybersecurity measures, an attack on your system will be minimal. And that’s because you already put up a defense. It’s a totally different story if you are nonchalant about it.

Don’t wait until something goes wrong before taking action; it might be too late to save the day.

Hacker at a desk laptop
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