Three Insidious Tactics Cybercriminals Use (and How to Stop Them)

Woman on a sofa holding a laptop, looking concerned.

Nearly everyone gets on the internet several times a day, and in the last few years the amount of time we spend online has increased significantly. This has given hackers, fraudsters, and other assorted cybercriminals more opportunities than ever before to take advantage of internet users.

With more users, more internet-supported activities, and generally more screen time across the boards, the internet has become an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord for the cybercriminal sector. Whether it’s a hacker who relishes a challenge, a scammer trying to extort a ransom, or a disgruntled individual wishing to exact revenge, cybercrime is an unpleasant fact of life.

The good news is, you can take measures to protect yourself from these nefarious people. Read on for valuable tips and tools.

Tricks and Tips

Cybercriminals take advantage of social engineering to trick people into clicking on things that appear authentic. In reality, those clicks initiate the installation of viruses or malicious software. Here are some of their favorite tricks.

Click-bait Attachments

A common ploy is to send an ambiguous message that says something like, “Look who I ran into the other day…he’s made it big! I think you know him?” along with an attachment. The idea is to click-bait the recipient into opening the attachment to find out who “made it big.” Instead, by clicking the attachment, they have unwittingly downloaded a virus, which will spread to all the recipient’s contacts, and their contacts’ contacts.

Fake Email Addresses

Another trick that cybercriminals rely on is the misspelled email address. They create an account with a username that at first glance looks like one the recipient knows, but they switch out some of the characters. A capital S might become a 5, or an m might be replaced with an rn. A capital “I” looks very similar to a lowercase “L”, and so on. In this way, the cybercriminal can lure their victims into opening an email that appears to be from a trusted sender.

Virus Warning Pop-ups

One of the most disconcerting things that can occur is the dreaded pop-up, often accompanied by a robotic voice announcing that your computer has suddenly been infected with a virus, and urging you to take action such as calling a phone number ostensibly for your operating system’s tech support or similar. In a panic, you click the link they present or call the phone number they provide.

Overhead angle of a man sitting in an upholstered chair, typing on a laptop.

All of these are examples of social engineering, or manipulating victims based on established human behaviors. Most humans aren’t inclined to install malware or try to scam people, so the idea that clicking on an attachment from an apparent friend could spread a virus or compromise network security is understandably not the first thing that comes to mind. In addition, it’s natural to go into panic mode when you’re told that something has gone wrong. The instinct is to take some sort of action. This is why cybercriminals are successful to a degree, and why they continue to prey on human nature.

Besides being on the lookout for these tricks, here are some more tips to help safeguard your computer:

Enhance Your Protection

Because cybercrime takes many forms and is carried out using a wide variety of methods, it’s essential to be proactive about your online safety to avoid as many of these tactics as possible. Whether it’s through correctly guessing a weak password or installing malicious software – which has its own set of subcategories – cybercriminals will worm their way into any computer or network that is left vulnerable. Fortunately, there are solutions available to help safeguard your information, thanks to a suite of Protection Tools and premium features in the SmartWiFi app that comes with your Managed Wireless service.

Password Genie Logo

Hackers understand that if they can get the password from just one of your accounts, the odds are good that they can use the same password to get into the rest of them. It’s human nature to want to make the same password for everything because trying to remember multiple passwords can be frustrating, to say nothing of recalling which one gets you into which account. It can also feel like a daunting task to come up with even one password that you find easy to remember, yet hard for someone else to guess.

Artist's rendering of a glowing shield icon with a padlock in it, held in someone's outstretched hand.

PasswordGenie℠ is a password manager that securely stores all your passwords so that you can have a different one for each account, and not have to try to remember so many. If making up strong, unique, hard-to-guess passwords isn’t your forte, PasswordGenie℠ can also generate passwords.

File Hopper Plus Logo

Discovering that your files have been irrevocably deleted brings unbearable despair to the pit of your stomach. Important records, private documents, precious photos of loved ones, and the irreplaceable fruits of creative effort – gone forever. Knowing that all those things will never be restored is a heartache that can take years from which to recover.

This nightmare can be avoided with the most secure backup available. FileHopper Plus℠ keeps all your files safe in the cloud, so if something should happen to your computer, your files not only remain accessible to you, but out of the reach of hackers thanks to 256-bit encryption. You can breathe easier knowing that you won’t lose those special photos, personal documents, or intellectual property. Bonus: if an accident were to befall your network, computer, or hard drive, your files are preserved.

SecureIT Logo

Oftentimes hackers target your network surreptitiously, so you don’t notice right away that your computer and other devices have been infected with malware, viruses, and worms. Because it’s harder to know when you’ve been hacked in this manner until it’s too late, it’s essential to have an anti-virus software program that counteracts cybercriminals’ attempts to compromise your network.

Keeping your files and other private information out of the hands of criminals is easy with robust anti-virus software. SecureIT℠ is complete anti-virus protection that blocks phishing attempts and malware installation while running in the background, and updates are performed automatically.

Elementary-age boy on a laptop at a kitchen table, smiling excitedly with his fists up.


Children and teens use the internet for a variety of reasons as well, like researching for school projects, gaming, or video chatting with friends and family. Because their life experience is at a different level from that of adults, children can be particularly susceptible to cybercrime and stumbling into online situations that can be dangerous.

ExperienceIQ™, the parental control feature available on our SmartWiFi app, allows you to set time limits and schedule internet time for your network users, set content restrictions on websites you deem inappropriate for your children, track and compare time spent online, and more.


Having a Wi-Fi network is a standard convenience in the 21st century household, but not all Wi-Fi networks are protected. If the network itself is vulnerable, everything connected to it becomes fair game to cybercriminals.

Keeping an eye on your home Wi-Fi network is as simple as tapping a button on your smartphone. ProtectIQ™, a premium feature available on our SmartWiFi app, blocks attempted visits to websites known to be harmful, as well as automatically blocking any suspicious incoming traffic. Malicious data transfers are terminated before they reach your network, and you’ll receive an alert any time a home network breach is attempted.

To have Protection Tools or premium SmartWiFi features added to your account, contact us to sign up, and safeguard your network – and your family – from cybercrime today.