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Recognizing, Combatting Cybercrime

24 Jan 2017 6:30 AM | International Public Safety Association (Administrator)

Starting from a young age, our teachers and parents teach us about crime. We learn to lock the doors at night, to say no to drugs, and to avoid talking to strangers. As we get older, we take safety measures to protect our money, our valuables, and our physical safety. 

However, when it comes to our online lives, many of us frequently put these same things at risk. 

Recognizing and combating cybercrime presents a unique challenge. In a world filled with technical jargon and complicated concepts, the average person may feel overwhelmed with the idea of protecting themselves from cybercrime. 

However, there are quick, easy steps everyone can take – no matter their level of technical expertise – to protect themselves online. The first step in protecting yourself against cybercrime is knowing how to recognize it. Below are two common types of cybercrime and how to spot them:

Phishing attacks. Cybercriminals use legitimate-looking emails that encourage people to click on a link or open an attachment. The email they send can look like it is from an authentic financial institution, e-commerce site, government agency, or any other service or business. The email may also request personal information like account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers. Once you click on the link or open the attachment, the cybercriminal has access to your personal information, including your Social Security number, bank account information, and credit card number.

Identity Theft. The illegal use of someone else's personal information in order to obtain money or credit. As we all move towards online banking and shopping, we share a startling amount of personal information online. Cybercriminals are constantly looking to steal this information online. How will you know if you’ve been a victim of identity theft? You might get bills for products or services you did not purchase. Your bank account might have withdrawals you didn’t expect. You may see unauthorized charges on your credit cards. You may be unexpectedly denied for a credit application (when you believe you should qualify).

Protecting yourself from cybercrime may seem like a daunting task, but in reality it’s not. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “Identity Theft and Internet Scams Tip Card” and “Phishing Tip Card” provides easy steps you can take to protect yourself online. You can find these tip cards, along with other online safety resources, in the Stop.Think.Connect.TM Campaign’s Toolkit at

All individuals have a responsibility to protect against cybercrime, but no one can do it alone. DHS is committed to building partnerships and providing the right resources needed to fight against cybercrime through the following components.

  • The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Cyber Crimes Center (C3) provides technical services and training to help federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies across the country, and international partners, in their cyber and technical investigations. The C3 includes the Cyber Crimes Unit, the Computer Forensics Unit, and the Child Exploitations Investigations Unit.
  • The United States Secret Service (USSS) Electronic Crimes Task Force (ECTF) works to identify and locate international cyber criminals, and leverages partnerships with academia and the private sector to prevent, detect, and investigate electronic crimes, including potential terrorist attacks against critical infrastructure and financial payment systems.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Office of Security Policy and Industry Engagement (OSPIE) Surface Division, in partnership with both their public and private sector stakeholders, manages cybersecurity risk through maintaining and enhancing continuous awareness and promoting voluntary, collaborative, and sustainable community action to critical infrastructure operations within the Nation’s surface transportation systems.
  • The United States Coast Guard (USCG) works with private sector and government partners to address cyber risk and improve cybersecurity resiliency for the Nation’s ports, terminals, ships, refineries and their supporting systems.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Continuity Programs (NCP) works to ensure that the federal government can continue to operate during a wide range of potential threats and emergencies, including cyber events. FEMA and the DHS Office of Cybersecurity and Communications (CS&C) facilitate the Resilient Accord Workshop, an inter-organizational cyber security workshop designed to increase awareness and execution of continuity of operations during and after a cyber incident.

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