Cybercrime, also called computer crime, the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, stealing identities, or violating privacy. Cybercrime, especially through the Internet, has grown in importance as the computer has become central to commerce, entertainment, and Because of the early and widespread adoption of computers and the Internet in the United States, most of the earliest victims and villains of cybercrime were Americans.
By the 21st century, though, hardly a hamlet remained anywhere in the world that had not been touched by cybercrime of one sort or another. Computer crime refers to criminal activity involving a computer. The computer may be used in the commission of a crime or it may be the target. Net-crime refers to criminal use of the Internet.
Cyber-crimes are essentially a combination of these two elements and can be best defined as “Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm to the victim directly or indirectly using modern telecommunication networks such as the Internet (Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones (SMS/MMS)”. In its most simple form, cyber-crime can be defined as any illegal activity that uses a computer as its primary means of function. The U.S. Department of Justice broadens this definition to include any illegal activity that uses a computer for the storage of evidence. The term ‘cyber-crime’ can refer to offenses including criminal activity against data, infringement of content and copyright, fraud, unauthorized access, child pornography and cyber-stalking. The United Nations Manual on the Prevention and Control of Computer Related Crime includes fraud, forgery and unauthorized access in its definition of cyber-crime. Cyber-crime in effect covers a wide range of attacks on individuals and organizations alike.
These crimes may include anything from an individual’s emotional or financial state to a nation’s security. There are two main categories that define the make up of cyber-crimes. Firstly those that target computer networks or devices such as viruses, malware, or denial of service attacks. The second category relate to crimes that are facilitated by computer networks or devices like cyber-stalking, fraud, identity-theft, extortion, phishing (spam) and theft of classified information. Defining cybercrime:
New technologies create new criminal opportunities but few new types of crime. What distinguishes cybercrime from traditional criminal activity? Obviously, one difference is the use of the digital computer, but technology alone is insufficient for any distinction that might exist between different realms of criminal activity. Criminals do not need a computer to commit fraud, traffic in child pornography and intellectual property, steal an identity, or violate someone’s privacy. All those activities existed before the “cyber” prefix became ubiquitous.
Cybercrime, especially involving the Internet, represents an extension of existing criminal behaviour alongside some novel illegal activities. Most cybercrime is an attack on information about individuals, corporations, or governments. Although the attacks do not take place on a physical body, they do take place on the personal or corporate virtual body, which is the set of informational attributes that define people and institutions on the Internet. Types of cybercrime: Cybercrime ranges across a spectrum of activities.
At one end are crimes that involve fundamental breaches of personal or corporate privacy, such as assaults on the integrity of information held in digital depositories and the use of illegally obtained digital information to blackmail a firm or individual. Also at this end of the spectrum is the growing crime of identity theft. These are specific crimes with specific victims, but the criminal hides in the relative anonymity provided by the Internet. Another part of this type of crime involves individuals within corporations or government bureaucracies deliberately altering data for either profit or political objectives.
At the other end of the spectrum are those crimes that involve attempts to disrupt the actual workings of the Internet. These range from spam, hacking, and denial of service attacks against specific sites to acts of cyber terrorism—that is, the use of the Internet to cause public disturbances and even death. Cyber terrorism focuses upon the use of the Internet by nonstate actors to affect a nation’s economic and technological infrastructure. Since the September 11 attacks of 2001, public awareness of the threat of cyber terrorism has grown dramatically.
ATM fraud: Computers also make more mundane types of fraud possible. Take the automated teller machine (ATM) through which many people now get cash. In order to access an account, a user supplies a card and personal identification number (PIN). Criminals have developed means to intercept both the data on the card’s magnetic strip as well as the user’s PIN. In turn, the information is used to create fake cards that are then used to withdraw funds from the unsuspecting individual’s account.
For example, in 2002 the New York Times reported that more than 21,000 American bank accounts had been skimmed by a single group engaged in acquiring ATM information illegally. A particularly effective form of fraud has involved the use of ATMs in shopping centres and convenience stores. These machines are free-standing and not physically part of a bank. Criminals can easily set up a machine that looks like a legitimate machine; instead of dispensing money, however, the machine gathers information on users and only tells them that the machine is out of order after they have typed in their PINs.
Given that ATMs are the preferred method for dispensing currency all over the world, ATM fraud has become an international problem. Hacking: While breaching privacy to detect cybercrime works well when the crimes involve the theft and misuse of information, ranging from credit card numbers and personal data to file sharing of various commodities—music, video, or child pornography—what of crimes that attempt to wreak havoc on the very workings of the machines that make up the network?
The story of hacking actually goes back to the 1950s, when a group of phreaks (short for “phone freaks”) began to hijack portions of the world’s telephone networks, making unauthorized long-distance calls and setting up special “party lines” for fellow phreaks. With the proliferation of computer bulletin board systems (BBSs) in the late 1970s, the informal phreaking culture began to coalesce into quasi-organized groups of individuals who graduated from the telephone network to “hacking” corporate and government computer network systems. Spam:
E-mail has spawned one of the most significant forms of cybercrime—spam, or unsolicited advertisements for products and services, which experts estimate to comprise roughly 50 percent of the e-mail circulating on the Internet. Spam is a crime against all users of the Internet since it wastes both the storage and network capacities of ISPs, as well as often simply being offensive. Yet, despite various attempts to legislate it out of existence, it remains unclear how spam can be eliminated without violating the freedom of speech in a liberal democratic polity.
Unlike junk mail, which has a postage cost associated with it, spam is nearly free for perpetrators—it typically costs the same to send 10 messages as it does to send 10 million. Trichy gets cyber crime cell at police commissioner’s office: TRICHY: To bring down cyber crimes in Trichy, the city police commissioner, Shailesh Kumar Yadav, inaugurated a cyber crime cell at the commissioner’s office on Friday. Following the inauguration, the cyber crime cell received three complaints so far. The complaints included online lottery, pornographic messages through SMS to a woman and a life threatening message to another.
The cell will function at the ground floor at the office of the commissioner of police. A team of policemen comprising an inspector, a sub-inspector and four from other ranks will initially look after complaints. Further, the number will go up according to the increase in rate of crime. At present, an SI will take care of things until an inspector is appointed. Cyber crime cells were already set up in Chennai and Coimbatore and have been functional so far. Later, Madurai and Tirunelveli will get cyber crime cells. The government has sanctioned Rs 16. 5 lakh to set up a cyber lab in Trichy.
As of now, the Trichy police have come across a number of cyber crime cases that mainly include harassment of women through SMS, ATM fraud, online-lottery and online-multi level marketing (MLM) scams. Prior to setting up the cell in Trichy, such cases were being dealt with by the respective police stations. As dealing with cyber crime cases needed a long time and expertise, policemen were struggling with breakthroughs. “There was a government order to set up a cyber crime cell in Trichy already. But it was not implemented. So, I took the initiative and inaugurated the cell in the city,” said Yadav. Conclusion: It can be seen that the threat of computer crime is not as big as the authority claim. This means that the method s that they introducing to combat it represents an unwarranted attack on human rights and is not proportionate to the threat posed by cyber-criminals. Part of the problem is that there are no reliable statistics on the problem; this means that it is hard to justify the increased powers that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act has given to the authorities. These powers will also be ineffective in dealing with the problem of computer.
The international treaties being drawn up to deal with it are so vague that they are bound to be ineffective in dealing with the problem. It will also mean the civil liberties will be unjustly affected by the terms of the treaties since they could, conceivably, imply that everybody who owns a computer fitted with a modem could be suspected of being a hacker. The attempts to outlaw the possession of hacking software could harm people who trying to make the internet more secure as they will not be able to test there systems; therefore the legislation could do more harm than good.