Crimeware is a blanket term for all kinds of software criminals use to instigate cybercrime, using it to steal personal identities, money, or proprietary information.

Crimeware users typically combine it with social engineering—the process of luring the unaware to click a malicious link or download a malware-laced attachment—to get them to download crimeware onto their computers.
You can compare crimeware to the gadgets thieves use to get into their target victims’ houses in the real world. These instruments can include lockpicks, security lock PIN guessers, and the like.

Other interesting terms…

Read More about “Crimeware

Based on its definition, crimeware can refer to many techniques, tools, applications, or even devices.

What Are Examples of Crimeware?

Anything cybercriminals use to break into or compromise target accounts and networks can fall under crimeware, including:

  • Keyloggers: Programs specifically built to enable keystroke logging. It captures everything users type on their keyboards, especially account login credentials. They work in the background and typically don’t get noticed by affected users. Not all keyloggers are employed maliciously, though. Some use it for legitimate purposes like obtaining feedback for software development.
  • Pharming: The process of redirecting users’ web browsers to fake or look-alike websites under a cybercriminal’s control even if they don’t mistype the legitimate site’s domain into the address bar.
  • Phishing: The act of luring users to fake pages to get them to part with their login credentials.
  • Password stealers: Specially crafted tools that steal users’ passwords, particularly those stored on their browsers.
  • Session hijacking: A method of taking over a web user session by obtaining its session ID, allowing cybercriminals to pose as the authorized user.
  • Remote access Trojans (RATs): Malware designed to let attackers remotely control infected computers. Once they run on compromised systems, the threat actors can send commands to them and get stolen data back from responses.
  • Ransomware: Malware designed to encrypt specific file types on target computers to push victims to pay a ransom to get access to them back. They are ubiquitous today.

These are just a few crimeware examples, but there are loads more. Practically any tactic or tool cybercriminals use for financial gain is considered crimeware.

How Do Crimeware Get into User Devices?

Crimeware can land on unwitting users’ computers much like any malware can, including:

  • Spamming: Opening spam and clicking an embedded link to a malicious website can infect a system with crimeware. Downloading a malware-laced attachment can also cause crimeware infection.
  • Redirection: More advanced cybercriminals compromise poorly secured legitimate sites to redirect their users to look-alike or phishing pages where their login credentials get stolen.
  • Vulnerability exploitation: Very adept cybercriminals can exploit weaknesses in target computers or networks to harvest account credentials, steal sensitive data, or shut down an organization’s operations.

How Can You Avoid Becoming a Crimeware Victim?

The usual best practices for avoiding digital threats apply to crimeware prevention, such as:

  • Detecting spoofing attacks like business email compromise (BEC), where cybercriminals impersonate a target organization’s CEO or other C-suites to trick employees into giving out sensitive data or paying out huge sums
  • Adhering to Internet safety standards or complying with the mandates of regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • Employing data loss prevention (DLP) policies and solutions to ensure sensitive data never gets sent to unauthorized users
  • Enabling inbound email security by detecting and automatically blocking spam and malicious messages
  • Performing regular reviews of the effectiveness of security policies and procedures 
  • Preventing users from remotely accessing systems, servers, firewalls, and other internal devices
  • Patching computers regularly
  • Enforcing a strong password policy
  • Training employees to recognize common crimeware attacks 
  • Requiring two-factor authentication
  • Using security solutions to avoid malware infection

Anyone can make mistakes and find themselves opening their computers or even corporate networks up to crimeware. For organizations, that can spell a colossal disaster—not just financial loss but also productivity loss and reputational damage. To avoid crimeware infection, they may need to follow all the best practices mentioned here.