The Internet is a vast wealth of information where you can find just about anything you’d like. Thanks to search engines like Google, the world really is at our fingertips when it comes to research, news consumption, connecting with the community, teaching yourself a new skill, online shopping, job searches and so much more. From doing work to personal pursuits and everything in between, there’s not much that can’t be done online these days.

Cybercriminals are people who take advantage of the Internet through exploitation and fraud. They represent the negative sides of our increasingly digital world, exposing how easy it is to be taken advantage of and stolen from, even while in the comfort of your own home. With a growing number of tools in their kit, hackers are becoming increasingly difficult to avoid.

Shielding yourself from cybercrime is easier when you have an idea of how these hackers think and what they’re after – read on for insights.

What Are They Looking For?

Hackers are on the lookout for any kind of profitable information available to them; Social Insurance Numbers, credit card details, identifiable documents, usernames and passwords are all examples of details of data that can be sold. In fact, this kind of personal identifiable information (PII) is the most in-demand good on the dark web. And this threat is constant – it’s estimated that hackers attack every 39 seconds!

So, how do these fraudsters get a hold of this valuable data? One of common method is with malware: an umbrella term that refers to any sort of malicious software created by hackers to invade your device and steal your sensitive information. Once this information is obtained through the malware, attackers can use it to either commit crimes such as identify theft or fraud themselves or sell it for a profit.

Hackers can also gain access to your device through public networks. If you’re connected to unsecured Wi-Fi, your information is very easily accessible to the other people who are also on the same network. While these networks are sometimes unavoidable, public spaces are gold mines for hackers looking to make a quick buck.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

One of the main ways to make sure that your information is safe from predators is by getting anti-malware software installed on your computer – the best privacy software will prevent and remove invasive threats to your device. Without the proper protection, hackers can gain access to your data through attacks like ransomware, spyware, viruses, phishing and more.

If you are someone that works in public spaces quite often, it may also be worth considering a VPN service too. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) uses encryption technology to connect you to a private network no matter where you’re located. With a VPN in use, you can connect your device to a public Wi-Fi with no concerns of snooping or data theft.

While cybercrime is a legitimate and growing threat to both personal devices and businesses, it’s possible to protect your information with preventative measures in place. Anti-malware software and a VPN service will shield you from getting your privacy invaded and data stolen.

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Vineet Maheshwari is a passionate blogger and relationship oriented digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience in SEO, PPC management, web analytics, domain investing, affiliate marketing and digital strategy. He has helped high tech brands connect with customers in an engaging manner, thereby ensuring that high quality leads are generated over time.