A brief overview of cyber criminals’ favourite tactics

June 4, 2020

Cyber criminals are adept at finding new and creative ways to steal information, identities and money from their victims. They’re always looking for tactics that you may not be familiar with.

But cyber criminals don’t just rely on new methods; there are certain tried and true tactics that they use again and again.

The list below is not comprehensive – there are other methods out there – but it is a good starting point for making yourself aware about potential cyber threats.

"a hacker in a hoodie, cursors and devil emojis"Threats

Most of us wouldn’t fall for a cyber scam if we were thinking straight. If a stranger approached you on the street and asked for your personal information, you’d probably politely (or not so politely) say, “No thanks”. That’s why cyber criminals rely on tactics that affect our thinking.

One of these tactics for negatively impacting our thought processes? Threats. When we feel threatened, we lose our ability to reason and think rationally. Cyber criminals try to confuse you, put pressure on you, and threaten you so that you take actions that you wouldn’t otherwise take.

The next time you receive a message that seems threatening, think again. For example, you might receive a message from someone claiming to be from a government agency. It’s likely a cyber criminal who is threatening to arrest or fine you so that you’ll give them money or personal information.


You won a free cruise! You received an inheritance from a long-lost relative! We want to publish your novel!

It all sounds too good to be true, right?

That’s because, in most cases, it is.

Another favourite tactic for cyber criminals’ use is scams. Cyber criminals claim that you have won a contest, a prize or an inheritance, but they are trying to trick you into giving up your personal information or money.

In contrast to threats, which rely on fear, scams entice you with the promise of something good.

The next time you’re offered a prize for a contest that you didn’t enter, ask yourself: Why? Chances are a cyber criminal is attempting to scam you.


Ever thought you signed up or agreed to do one thing, but you ended up doing something more or completely different? (Maybe you’re nodding because you remember the time a friend asked to come over and “just help with a few things,” but then you spent the entire day moving boxes into a new apartment). Cyber criminals use the same tactic of tricking people.

For example, a cyber criminal may send you attachments (look at this cute puppy photo) that is actually malware (short for malicious software). Malware infects your computer so that cyber criminals can get in to or damage your computer system or device. A cyber criminal may use malware to steal information or carry out malicious activities.

Cyber criminals are experts at making malware look like a legitimate file or software program, such as anti-virus software, so that they can trick you into downloading it.

Tricks can also involve a technique known as “spoofing”. This is where cyber criminals send you to a website that might look like it is from a trusted company, such as a bank, but it is a fake that is designed to trick you into giving up your information.


This list won’t completely protect you from cyber criminals. But it’s a good start.

By knowing more about common tactics of criminals, you can protect yourself and your information.

Report a problem on this page

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, please contact us.

Date modified: