Cyber Security vs Cyber Crime: Do you Know the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what exactly cyber security and cyber crime consist of? The research of the two is very broad, but both handle issues that deal with computers and networks. The internet culture is growing and changing very rapidly, and the public needs to know what to do when certain cyber issues arise.

What is the main difference between cyber security and cyber crime? Cybersecurity is the practice of defending government or corporate computers, servers, networks from malicious attacks and threats and keeping information like data safe and secure from unauthorized access. While cyber crime is about exploiting human or security weaknesses in systems to steal data, money or passwords.

Hackers invest in the knowledge of how to cause chaos in our internet infused world. Both cyber crime and cyber security are used to handle certain crimes and combat hackers who inflict this type of cyber harm. The question is, how do you know which of the two will handle your cyber issue? To answer that we must delve into the differences between cyber security and cyber crime.

Below is a list of 10 differences between cyber security and cyber crime.

1) Types of Crimes

These are the differences in the types of crimes that are committed through cyber crime and cyber security.

Cyber Crime

Cyber Crimes are crimes where an individual or group of individuals data is the mark. There are several types. They include romance scams, cyberbullying, hate speech, sexting, child pornography, and human trafficking.

Romance Scams

A romance scam is a dependence trick involving the fabrication of a romantic scheme aimed towards a victim to gain their devotion and use their generosity to commit fraud.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2019 alone, people reported losing $201 million to romance scams[1]. The romance scammer will create a fake profile on a dating site or an app. They may even get into contact with people through social media outlets like Facebook or Instagram.

The scammers will start up a relationship with the individual by talking or messaging throughout the day. This is how they constitute trust in the victim. Then along comes a story they have made up with the plot to be to ask for money.


Cyber bullying, also known as cyber harassment, is a form of bullying or harassment done by using electronic means[2]. According to, most cyber bullying takes place on media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat[3]

Cyberbullying takes place over devices like cell phones, computers and tablets. It includes posting, sending or sharing detrimental, untrue or hateful content about another individual. The bully shares private or personal information about the victim which causes shame and mental pain.

Sometimes the cyberbullying becomes unlawful or criminal if the harasser makes a threat to another individual involving blackmail, sexting messages, and hate crimes. These are criminal offenses and are punishable by law.

Hate Speech

Hate speech is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary describes hate speech along the lines of speech done in public which encourages violence or expresses some form of hate towards other people and is usually based on attacking someones race, their religion, their sex or their sexual orientation.[4]

Hate speech includes written, spoken, or visual discrimination, harassment, threats, or violence. On March 27, 2020, Twitter saw a 900% increase in hate speech towards China because of the coronavirus. This version of hate speech is known as digital hate.

It’s important to note that the United States constitution’s First Amendment protects speech regardless of how offensive the content may be. However, any behavior that can be construed as harassment, especially if it’s targetted at people or groups as well as any behavior that includes threats is not generally protected under the First Amendment. That being said, hate speech can ONLY be criminalized if it provokes a fast approach to criminal activity.

Hate speech consists of straight-out threats of violence targeting a person or group. Once it crosses this threshold, it is punishable by law.


According to, sexting can end up being either classed as a misdemenor or could end up being charged as a felony. This would depend on each individual case and the surrounding circumstances.[5]

Felony charges are more likely in most of these cases, especially if sexting involves sending explicit texts or images to minors like children. Then charges along the line of child pornography can be labeled on the adult sending the images or explicit text messages.

However, sending sexually explicit photos and videos from one adult to another is not considered a sexual offense, unless the recipient does not want them. The sender could get into trouble for them and they would be labeled as a form of harassment

Child Pornography

Child pornography is the images of children involved in sexual activities. It is a form of child sexual exploitation. This has become a colossal social concern most recently. According to, “Over the past five years, nearly 800 cyber crime offenses were committed in Pennsylvania by 287 people….and around 68% of those offenses were online child pornography.”[6]

This crime is punishable at the State and federal levels. Child pornography charges carry tremendous criminal punishments. For a first time offense, it could carry a 15-20 year prison sentence, plus extra time in a supervised sex offender release program, as well as being a registered sex offender.

Human Trafficking

Cyber human trafficking is where traffickers recruit and sell victims of human trafficking on the dark web and the surface web. The surge of the internet, as well as the dark web, are allowing traffickers to operate, committing this crime with ease.

Traffickers will use online chatrooms, social media, online employment agencies, and even counterfeit immigration assistance websites to round up potential victims. They then use online platforms available to the public as well as the darknet. The services they offer are forced prostitution, child pornography, forced labor and even the selling of babies and organs.

“Human trafficking is a multimillion-dollar form of international organized crime.”[7]

Not only is human trafficking crime under federal and international law, but it is also considered a crime in every state in the United States.

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity is known as a set of guidelines and conduct to prevent crime, but that’s NOT its only purpose. It is fundamentally about the protection of corporate and government networks to make it wearisome for hackers to discover and capitalize on any susceptibilities.


Ransomware is a type of ill-disposed software that is used by cybercriminals to block you from accessing your data. They are extortionists, of the digital variety. They encrypt your files and add extensions to your data, then they hold it “hostage” until the ransom is paid.

On April 3 2019, Senate Bill 30 was passed in Maryland. It states that owners convicted of possession with malicious intent will face a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000[8].

Ransomware is illegal because the user captures your data and demands a ransom fee from you.


Criminals use computer viruses to aid them in committing cyber crimes. They may take control of your account by sending email attachments or even through a flash drive. They could potentially steal your money and even your identity.

One focus we are seeing quite recently, as of February 2020, the reported that hackers are now using the coronavirus to spread a computer virus. The emails contain an attached document that supposedly contains a message of urgency that’s details are to include new developments with the coronavirus spread[9].

Many viruses include evasion proficiency. These are designed to get past anti-virus and anti-malware software as well as other security defenses.


Computer worms are a form of malicious software programming. Its objective is to infect other computers while remaining active in the affected systems. Itself replicates. They exploit holes in security and flaws in software policy. Worms slow down network traffic, send infected documents through email and even delete files on your system.

SQL Injection

Structured Query Language injection is a security exploit where an attacker adds SQL code to a web form box so they can gain access to unwarranted resources. SQLi is quite common. Hacking into a website is illegal.

In 2010, infamous American “super hacker,” Albert Gonzalez, was sentenced to 20 years for what has been known as the biggest ever criminal breach of card data through SQL injections…the cost: $300 million

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks

DDoS is a cyber-attack where the criminal seeks to make machines or network resources. The target is various components of a network connection. They often use botnets—which is a group of hijacked internet-connected devices with a unified goal of carrying out large scale attacks.

It is illegal under the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Violators could receive a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a fine of up to $500,000.

2) The Victims

Cybercrimes and cyber security both have victims. These victims differ based on what crime was committed. With cyber crimes, it is generally and individual or group of individuals. With cyber security, the affected parties are government or corporate.

Cyber Crime


Individuals can suffer substantial financial loss from cyber crime. The greatest impact being theft. This also includes the theft of intellectual property. Average people like you and I are on our own when it comes to securing our computers and devices.

These personal attacks cause chaos and computer distress. It is proven that large corporations can recover from an attack much easier than that of an individual.


Cybercriminals can easily trick families out of their money and valuable information. They will impersonate trusted figures from friends to family. Family offices are often seen as a target for cyber crime. This happens because family offices have wealth but lack cyber security defenses. These criminals research these families online before taking action against them.

Cyber Security


Cybersecurity is vital to a corporation because it comprises everything relevant to the protection of their sensitive data, protected health info (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property and data, as well as personal information and government and industry information systems.

Cybersecurity is to prevent damage and theft that is attempted by these criminals. Corporation leaders must educate themselves and staff on scams like phishing and ransomware attacks.

It can cause reputational damage that is irreversible to the corporation involved.


According to, the “Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) build the national capacity to defend against cyber-attacks and works with the federal government to provide cyber security tools, incident response services, and assessment capabilities to safeguard the .gov networks that support the essential operations of partner departments and agencies.”[10]

IT systems provide operations and process essential data. When used by federal agencies and our nation’s vital infrastructure, the risks are increasing. Rapid development in new technology such as the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence could produce new security threats.

3) The Principles

There are differing principles found between cyber crime and cyber security. The principles are set forth to establish what should be expected from the two.

Cyber Crime

This is the founding principle of cyber crime law and is set in place to punish criminals who have unauthorized access to computer systems with a delinquent intent. This is to prevent damage and change of systems as well as the data on it.

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity explains the high-tech advance to securing systems from attack or failure. Acceptable cyber security will identify with the fact that all computer systems contain a certain level of susceptibility and address the root causes of insecurity, by computing then identifying and fixing those susceptibilities.

4) Human Rights

Human rights are rights that are believed to belong rightfully to every human being. Cybercrime and cyber security both value human rights, though they express it in different ways.

Cyber Crime

They use cyber crime laws to build legislation with human rights protection and defense. Cybercrime law should be unfailing to a country’s national constitution and line up with international responsibilities to protect human rights.

Cyber Security

Cybersecurity arranges, protects, and safeguards individuals, networks and devices. This is the baseline of any cyber security procedure. Cybersecurity policies put individuals and their rights at the heart of its operations. They must pursue to protect and strengthen human rights rather than minify them.

5) The Framework

The framework, or the basic structure underlying within a system, is existent in both cyber crime and cyber security. They are firmly established in their structural beliefs.

Cyber Crime

With Cybercrime laws, they lay the foundation for far-reaching legal frameworks around “cyber-enabled crime.” This is referring to entrenched crimes committed in a new way by using technology such as the distribution of child pornography.

This benchmark addition to these kinds of crimes in cyber crime laws aids with cross border and the co-operation in solving them. These crimes will NOT only be seen as one in cyber crime law. As an example, the distribution of child pornography is a crime no matter if you are using a computer or not, it will be supported by the exhaustive efforts of child protection legal framework.

Cyber Security

They build a cyber security “framework” rather than one law in seclusion. Cybersecurity is comprised of different approving actions and approaching legislation, as one of the elements to it.

Most elements of cyber security depend on non-legal structures. They have minimum guidelines of security, assets in security, research, and security audits of public bodies and key industries. Government policy in this field can make a true difference in elevating the standard of security.

6) The Interpretations

Cybercrime and cyber security both interpret this form of cyber activity on different levels, however, they are both straightforward with how they come to classify these cyber activities.

Cyber Crime

This is used to narrowly interpret cyber crime. The founding principle is that of punishing unauthorized access with the spotlight on crimes that can only be committed by using a computer or another device, which is known as “cyber dependent crime,” such as breaking into the computer system of let’s say, Visa.

Cyber Security

They interpret by placing the efforts in a suitable threat assessment. A threat assessment acknowledges possible weaknesses such as outdated infrastructure that make a country more accessible to an attack and they aid in set up and decision making.

7) The Infrastructure

Cyberspace and its fundamental infrastructure are exposed to a wide variety of risks. Cybercrime and cyber security both do their part to protect it.

Cyber Crime

According to, “Cyber intrusions are becoming more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated.”[11]

The nation’s vital infrastructure regarding both private and public sector networks are targeted by antagonists. The FBI is transforming itself to address universal and growing cyber threats.

The FBI’s Cyber Division investigative dimensions must be enhanced to strengthen its focus on intrusions into private and government computer networks. The key priorities include computer and network intrusions, ransomware, identity theft, and online predators. The public can now even file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center,[12].

Cyber Security

They identify and engage in fault finding infrastructure. This refers to the important systems by which their loss or damage would have a considerable impact on the performance of the state as well as the safety of the people. Some examples would include banking, health, digital, financial market and energy infrastructure.

8) How They Establish Response

Establishing a response is key to resolving any issue that one may have. Cybercrime and cyber security have their way of handling and responding to the issues that go awry from a cyber attack.

Cyber Crime

There are certain guidelines to follow to respond to cyber crime.

  1. You must prepare. A cyber attack could go on completely undetected for a long time. It’s important to routinely perform monitoring and diagnostics to support early detection and resolution.
  2. Prioritize by secluding the incident and discovering its impacts. It’s critical to know of the enterprise network environment. Then, decide if the correct response should include a full investigation, following the cyber crime response plan.
  3. Investigate and Put-Right. The investigation needs to be started and conducted in a secure environment with the utmost urgency. Put-right by complicating the attacker’s effort to get in.
  4. Elimination. Plans that are organized and conducted with speed being precise because the attacker will try to infiltrate again.
  5. Resolution. Preparing data to be reported. Things such as insurance claims, litigation threats, Intel and customer notification.

Cyber Security

They establish incident response teams. This team contains experts on the “battlefield”. They can detect when security is threatened. They deal with devices that have been jeopardized and even services that are allowing cyber attacks to transpire.

9) Academic Programs to Start a Career In These Fields

To begin a career in cyber crime or cyber security, one must invest their education into certain areas of study. It is important to possess a degree in these associated fields to become a cyber crime investigator or to become a cyber security technologist.

Cyber Crime

To start a career in cyber crime, you must study in these areas: Criminology, Psychology and Sociology.

Within the field of Criminology, they use theories to explain why some people participate in wayward behavior, while others steer clear from it. They use theories such as social learning theory and low self-control theory.

They Psychology aspect of learning ins invested in profiling cybercriminals. By looking back and applying psychological research to study people’s behavior and observing the predetermined factors that cause the different behaviors, so they can get a good idea of the predisposition and traits that lead an individual to commit a cyber crime.

Sociology is used to study the patterns, social interactions, and culture. They study for example, how a cyberbully hurts or how someone might use morphing, which is the editing of an original picture by an unauthorized user or a fake identity.

Cyber Security

The academic programs you must study in to start a career in cyber security are Computer Science, Computer Engineering, and Information Technology.

With Computer Science, the focus is on building new features and software. A cyber security specialist would include auditing security systems, setting up firewalls, reporting data breaches and analyzing networks. Cybersecurity is a critical part of the broad field of Computer Science.

Computer Engineering provides the importance of learning about the hardware and software of the computer. They learn to protect sensitive data of businesses from hackers and cybercriminals alike.

Information Technology involves the security and protection of computer systems as well as the prevention of changes or unauthorized use. These studies are used to maintain confidentiality and integrity.

10) The Intellectual Focus

Students who want a career in cyber crime or cyber security must place their focus in the intellectual departments of science rather than it just being academically approached.

Cyber Crime

Studying cyber crime is basic science-oriented. This is the use of theoretical understandings of how and why crime is committed. Cybercrime investigators must be specialists in Computer Science.

Cyber Security

Studying cyber security is applied science-oriented. They deal with coding, networking and engineering strategies for making networks more secure.

Related Questions:

How cyber security is important in cyber crime? Cyber Security is about protecting data that could be used in Cyber Crime. By getting hold of data like credit card numbers, criminals are able to use these to commit cyber crimes.

What is an example of a Cyber Crime? Stealing usernames and passwords from a website is a Cyber Crime. By doing this, criminals are able to log into people’s accounts and steal their personal information, steal their money from their online bank accounts to blackmailing them with information they’ve found about them, like sensitive photos.









[9] Independent Article




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