In Cyber Safety

Cyber Crime in The 21st Century

cyber crime

According to Dictionary.com the cyber crime definition is any criminal activity that involves the use of computer technology or systems. This can include bullying, harassment, stalking, hacking and more. When one asks themselves what is cyber crime the answer involves determining the various types of cyber crimes that exist.

Types of Cyber Crime

Cyber crime types include hacking, theft, cyberstalking, identity theft, malicious software and child abuse/solicitation. Hacking involves gaining access to one’s computer without their knowledge or permission and being able to take personal and financial information about the person to use for their own purposes. In the United States the crime of hacking is considered to be a felony. Illegal hacking generally involves the use of software that allows an individual to gain remote access to another’s computer in an unethical manner. There is an ethical type of hacking, which is not a crime and is often used by professional organizations to ensure that the Internet connection they use is a secure one.

Using a computer to illegally download music, videos and other files without paying for them is considered theft just as much as stealing from a store or swiping someone’s wallet is. Harassing someone sexually or otherwise, through the use of a computer, is referred to as cyberstalking. It can be as simple as bombarding someone with emails and messages that they do not want. In most cases cyberstalkers know their victims personally, but choose to harass them online anyway because they think it is easier and less dangerous than doing it in person. Oftentimes, cyberstalkers who don’t seem to be getting to their victim online will go after them in real life.

Identity theft is one of the most common types of cyberstalking. With a growing number of people all over the world doing their banking and shopping online it is now easier than ever to commit identity theft. One who uses the Internet to steal the identity of another uses dishonest tactics to gain access to their credit card and bank account numbers. It is possible for a crime such as identity theft to ruin a victim’s credit.

Malicious software programs are capable of disabling entire computer networks. Once an individual uses a software program of this type to break into a network they can damage the network’s software programs as well as information and data that they have no business having access to.

Child abuse and solicitation often takes place in Internet chat rooms. An abuser may fake the identity of a young child themselves in order to get other young children to chat with them. In many cases abusers go into chat rooms aimed at young people in order to meet minors for sexual activity. FBI and local law enforcement throughout the United States have become vigilant about preventing this type of cyber crime.

Crime Statistics

Cyber crime statistics for the beginning of 2015 showed that there are several reasons why people commit this crime. So far for the calendar year 4% of them have committed the crime simply because they want to be able to say they did. Hacktivism is the motivation behind 29.2% of the cyber crimes committed so far this year and 2.2% of the cases can be chalked up to cyber way. The remaining 1.1% of the cases have been about espionage.

Cyber Crime Cases

There are some famous cyber crime cases that serve as an example of the most extreme incidents. In July of 2013 five people were convicted of the largest case of cyber crime that has ever been committed in the United States. This hacking incident involved several large companies and collectively cost those companies over $300 million. The five indicted in the crime are not U.S. citizens as they are from the Ukraine and Russia. Together the five men stole 160 credit card numbers, if not more. The team of five divided and conquered, with two of them having hacked into computer networks, one mining for data, one selling the mined data and one who made sure each of them got their cut of the deal.

When the U.S. economy was collapsing in 2008, international hackers took the opportunity to attack major companies offering financial services. Their infiltration of the companies involved stealing pin numbers and payroll numbers as well as running up the credit card balances of their victims. Not content to leave it at that the hackers then targeted ATMs throughout the entire world and walked away with $9 million in stolen funds. Upon catching one of these hackers, the man was moved from Estonia to Atlanta, Georgia to stand trial for the offense.

In a 2008 PCMag article the 10 most mysterious cyber crimes were discussed. One of them shows that this type of crime has been occurring since at least 1989 when a Maryland based NASA office’s computers were attacked in one of the earliest cases of hacktivism. In order to protest NASA launching a probe of Galileo, the criminals infiltrated NASA’s computer system and added a banner across each of NASA’s computers that was put there with the intention of stopping the probe all together. The criminals in this case have never been caught and officials have not even determined where the source of the hacking came from. To recover from this cyber crime NASA reportedly had to spend close to a half million dollars.

Cyber Crime News

With the ushering in of the 2015 people are being told to be even more aware of their Internet activities than ever before. This is due to the fact that cases of cyber crime rose over 300% between 2013 and 2014, making it an even more pressing issue to deal with in 2015. It is no longer only computer users that need to be vigilant as cyber crime is now being extended to smart phones and tablets. The sheer number of mobile device users in Hong Kong alone has led to the problem of cyber crime spiking in popularity. Hong Kong is particularly vulnerable to cyber crimes because of this. The cases of cyber crime in the news now pertain to items such as smart TVs. Cyber criminals are becoming even more bold now that they have so many options for accessing the personal information of others.

How To Report Cyber Crime

Everyone who uses any device to connect to the Internet must become extra vigilant in today’s world in order to keep their private information safe from prying eyes. The FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center have teamed up to form the Internet Crime Complaint Center, otherwise known as IC3. This is where cyber crimes can be reported to the government. Both victims of cyber crimes as well as third parties can report occurrences of the crime to the center. By providing the complaint center with all the information they need, civilians and government officials can work together to stop reported cyber crime cases.

The Department of Homeland Security also handles the cyber crime complaints of everyday people. Through this organization local police stations all over the world can be informed when there is a suspected or known cyber criminal in their area. Local authorities often work with cyber crime victims to ensure they do not become victims repeatedly.

Conclusion

When one asks what are cyber crimes there are two answers to give. One is that a cyber crime is any of the types of incidents mentioned above and the other is that they are crimes that violate peoples’ right to privacy and make them feel insecure in a world where it can be hard to find security. More than just a crime it is a way of exerting control over other people in a manner that can be a force more destructive than many people realize.

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1 Comment

  • Mary Hauber
    Aug 07, 2016 at 09:48 pm

    Way to go, girls. We need strong women like you in this world of ours.

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