Cybercrime is considered to be any criminal offence committed via the internet, or using computer technology. It is currently one of the most appealing ways to criminals because the internet facilitates a fast, convenient and anonymous service. Cybercrimes, like any others, have devastating effects on the victims whether they are individuals, companies or government organisations. The law divides the majority of these crimes into two main groups:
- Advanced/ High-tech Cybercrime – Any attack committed against either computers or software is considered an advanced cybercrime. Some of the areas that fall under this category are:
- Hacking a computer system or network, using any form of technology. Many governments knowingly commit cybercrimes by trying to hack into another country’s system, especially during times of war.
- Using a computer to introduce viruses remotely to another computer system.
- Using any form of encryption when committing a crime.
- Any fraud that is committed with the help of a computer.
- Cyber-Enabled Crime – Traditional crimes are increasing in number because of the use of the internet, including terrorism and those committed against children. There are also forms of communication that may not be thought of as criminal activity, but can incur serious consequences.
- Sexting – The sending of nude and suggestive images via text messages or emails has become extremely common. Many of these are sent by consenting adults and law enforcement mostly just ignores them. The distribution of erotic pictures or videos of children is a very serious matter, and these crimes are charged under child pornography laws. Minors who send their own pictures can also be given the same punishments but are normally viewed more leniently.
- Cyberbullying – Social media has become another place for bullies to display their cowardice. They use it continue to harass, intimidate or become the cause of others harm. This has become an even greater concern as the number of people who are committing suicide, or other violent acts, as a result of cyberbullying increases steadily. Facebook, email and texting are now the most widespread forms of bullying, as they can provide an unlimited audience. Cyberbullies are prosecuted under traditional bullying laws.
- Identity theft – Using various methods, criminals steal personal information such as bank account details and medical records, from victim’s computers, tablets and mobile phones. This is a crime that can have some of the most devastating individual consequences even when done on a small scale.
The dangers of cybercrime have grown drastically in recent years. Initially most of it was committed by individuals or small groups; this has now escalated into massive operations undertaken by worldwide networks. These crimes are estimated to cause billions of dollars in damage each year. As a result of using the internet, criminals are also more likely to be able to get away with their illegal activity.