Cybercrime is one type of criminal activity that is increasing because this type of crime is not restricted to those with high levels of knowledge of computers. Some cybercrimes are committed by juveniles and those with basic computer skills.
Three different categories of cybercrimes have been identified by the U.S. Department of Justice. Computer targeting is when the offender uses his computer to attack another person’s computer, such as uploading and sending out harmful viruses that can damage someone’s hard drive.
This is a broad term that describes everything from electronic cracking to denial of service attacks that cause electronic commerce sites to lose money.”
Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories:
- Cybercrimes against persons.
- Cybercrimes against property.
- Cybercrimes against government.
1. Cybercrimes against persons
Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail. The trafficking, distribution, posting, and dissemination of obscene material including pornography and indecent exposure, constitutes one of the most important Cybercrimes known today. The potential harm of such a crime to humanity can hardly be amplified. This is one Cybercrime which threatens to undermine the growth of the younger generation as also leave irreparable scars and injury on the younger generation,if not controlled.
A minor girl in Ahmadabad was lured to a private place through cyber chat by a man, who,along with his friends, attempted to gang rape her. As some passersby heard her cry, she was rescued. Another example wherein the damage was not done to a person but to the masses is the case of the Melissa virus. The Melissa virus first appeared on the internet in March of 1999. It spread rapidly throughout computer systems in the United States and Europe. It is estimated that the virus caused 80 million dollars in damages to computers worldwide.
In the United States alone,alone, the virus made its way through 1.2 million computers in one-fifth of the country’s largest businesses. David Smith pleaded guilty on Dec. 9, 1999 to state and federal changes associated with his creation of Melissa virus. There are numerous examples of such computer viruses few of them being “Melissa “and “love bug”.
Cyber harassment is a distinct Cybercrime. Various kinds of harassment can and do occur in cyberspace, or through the use of Cybercrime. Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. Persons perpetuating such harassment are also guilty of cybercrimes. Cyber harassment as a crime also brings us to another related area of violation of privacy of citizens. Violation of privacy of online citizens is a Cybercrime of a grave nature. No one likes any other person invading the invaluable and extremely touchy area of his or her own privacy which the medium of internet grants to the citizen.
2. Cybercrimes against property
The second category of Cyber-crimes is that of Cybercrimes against all forms of property.These crimes include computer vandalism (destruction of others’ property), transmission of harmful programmes. A Mumbai-based upstart engineering company lost a say and much money in the business when the rival company, an industry major, stole the technical database from their computers with the help of a corporate cyberspy.
3. Cybercrimes against government
The third category of Cyber-crimes relate to Cybercrimes against Government Cyber terrorism is one distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of internet has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals and groups to threaten the international governments as also to terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual “cracks” into a government of military maintained website.
Cracking is amongst the gravest Cyber-crimes known till date. It is a dreadful feeling to know that a stranger has broken into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent and has tampered with precious confidential data and information.
Coupled with this the actuality is that no computer system in the world is cracking proof. It is unanimously agreed that any and every system in the world can be cracked. The recent denial of service attacks seen over the popular commercial sites like E-bay, Yahoo, Amazon and others are a new category of Cyber-crimes which are slowly emerging as being extremely dangerous.
“Any criminal activity that uses a computer either as an instrumentality, target or a means for perpetuating further crimes comes within the ambit of cyber crime.”
Cyber crime occurs on a personal level, where one person attacks another person’s computer, and a corporate level where one person attacks a series of corporate computer. Using a computer as a weapon to commit crimes is another category of cybercrimes. This can be as simple as using the computer to participate illegal gambling,or as serious as using the computer to commit fraud.
This can include identity theft. Storing illegal information or stolen information on a computer is the third category of cybercrime. If a criminal keeps files or other stored information on his computer about how to make a bomb, manufacture narcotics, or tracks other illegal activities, this is a form of using a computer as an accessory to crime.
The sending of bulk Emails to a countless number of computers is known as “Spamming” and is considered illegal, depending on the country where the spanning originates from. Because spamming can be perfectly legal depending on the country, spammers are difficult to prosecute.
Computer Fraud has many forms, including altering computer input and output, altering or deleting stored data, and altering or misusing system tools and software packages for fraudulent purposes. Additionally, computers can be misused to perform various other types of fraud, such as bank fraud or theft(of information).
Any illegal content that is stored on a computer is also considered a computer crime. While the kind of content considered “illegal” will vary from country to country, child pornography is considered illegal worldwide,and makes up the majority of this category of computer crime. Many task forces have been created across the country to deal with this specific violation.
Punishment in Cybercrime
Cybercrime must be dealt with very seriously because it causes a lot of damage to businesses and the actual punishment should depend on the type of fraud used. The penalty for illegally accessing a computer system ranges from 6 months to 5 years. The penalty for the unofficial modification on a computer ranges from 5 to 1o years. Other penalties are listed below:
Telecommunication service theft. The theft of telecommunication services is a very common theft and is punished with a heavy fine and imprisonment.
Communications intercept crime: This is a Class-D crime which is followed by a severe punishment of 1 to 5 years of imprisonment with a fine. Other cyber crimes like telecommunication piracy, offensive material dissemination, and other cyber frauds also belong to this category.
Information Technology Act-2000: According to this act, different penalties are available for different crimes. Some of the penalties are as follows:
Computer source document tampering: The person who changes the source code on the website or any computer program will get a punishment up to 3 years of imprisonment or fine.
Computer hacking: The individual who hacks the computer or computer devices will get an imprisonment up to 3 years or a fine.
Government protected system: An act of trying to again access to a system which is a protected system by the government, will result in imprisonment for 10 years and a heavy fine.
The introduction of such penalties have lead to a drastic reduction in the cyber crime rates as more and more criminals are becoming aware of the penalties related to them. Spreading the word about the penalties of cyber crime can serve as a deterrent against such crime.
Penalties relating to cyber crime will vary depending on the country and legislation in place. All of my friends are requested to use computer to gain knowledge, not for the criminal purpose.