Hackers are no more the adolescent geeks attacking cyber space for fun.A good share of daily news fodder is provided by LulzSec and Anonymous, hacker groups hacking for 'lulz' or to drive home a point.

What goes unnoticed is the alarming number of internet scammers hacking for cash, identity, information and even for personal gain. What about the victims devastated by these attacks?

More often than not, the internet criminals escape the law, simply because government resources often prove incompetent to strike down technological advanced internet scammers. In such a scenario, avoiding potential damage is the only way to go. 

Cyber crimes have always been there, (Read the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) report of 2010) but even after back-to-back attacks, the helplessness of law enforcing agencies could give an impression that virtual world crimes aren't as serious as real world crimes. Since cyber laws are too flexible across countries, the attackers can sit in one distant corner and go berserk all over the planet, but the extent of damage, financially and otherwise including harm to one's life, cannot be assessed immediately.

What most software developers and corporations fear is a zero-day attack, a threat that exploits computer application vulnerabilities which are unknown to others or the software developer, also called zero-day vulnerabilities. So until and unless a system gets breached, you are not sure of your soft areas. Another golden rule that works in favor of hackers is that they are always a 'technical' step ahead of their victims.

The precautions against a potential hack is always for your good. Stop thinking that you are just another netizen silently going about your life. If you use email, if you shop online, if you do online social networking, or if you just browse random sites, you are potentially at risk.

Value you privacy -- Sharing information online isn't bad, but by answering an innocent Facebook quiz might be revealing risky private data to a hacker. Be alert while connecting with strangers and set limits to your personal data available to random profile visitors. Citizens need to start recognizing the value of their own personal data and not put out any data that isn't necessary, said U.S. Representative Jim Langevin, a co-founder of the Congressional Cyber Security Caucus.

Malware protection -- Always keep your anti-malware software up-to-date. Install security updates released by software developers regularly. Be extremely watchful while visiting porn, adult sites. They are loaded with viruses, usually.

Password protection -- A significant number of internet users think that as long as they keep their passwords secret, having the exact same one for almost all internet logins is not a problem. Having different passwords for each logins and periodically changing them are more than a headache. In many cases users lose accounts owing to a forgotten password and inability to answer a security question. But there's no other go. You have to try and figure out a way to have different passwords that even when one internet account of you is compromised, you can be sure that others are secure.

Strong password -- Spouses' names, birthplaces, birthdays, roll models' names, or anything that anybody can guess should never be kept for password. Always use a strong combination of characters, numerals and symbols.

Spam protection -- About 90 per cent of internet traffic is spam. Even when service providers try and eliminate spam they are bound to reach your accounts. Never ever click on a link provided in a spam message. In the wake of recent security issues, some experts advise to not click on an email link even if that is from a known source.

Read about internet phone fraud precautions

-Report an internet crime here