Cybercrime – Part 1: Introduction
What Cybercrime is
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. Cybercrime relates to the unlawful use of the Internet.
In its purest form, cybercrime 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 unlawful activity that uses a computer for the storage of evidence.
The term ‘cybercrime’ can refer to offences 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 cybercrime. Cybercrime covers a wide range of attacks on individuals and organizations and even the government.
Categories of Things That Make Up Cybercrime
There are two main categories that define the make up of cybercrimes.
- Firstly those that target computer networks or devices such as viruses, malware, or denial of service attacks.
- The second category relates to crimes that are facilitated by computer networks or devices like cyber-stalking, fraud, identity theft, extortion, phishing (spam) and theft of classified information.
Cybercrime is escalating at an alarming rate. Cybercrimes have expanded to include activities that cross international borders and can now be considered a global epidemic. The international legal system ensures cybercriminals are held accountable through the International Criminal Court.
Law enforcement agencies are faced with unique challenges, and the anonymity of the Internet only complicates the issues. Gathering of evidence is problematic; also there are cross-jurisdictional issues and miscommunication related to reporting.
It is widely known that victims of Internet crimes are often reluctant to report an offence to authorities. In some cases, the individual or organization may not even be aware a crime has been committed.
Even though facilities for reporting incidents of cybercrime have improved in recent years, many victims remain reluctant due essentially to embarrassment.
International cooperation is essential if a valid response is to be found against global cybercrime. No nation can expect to combat the issue alone effectively. Many cybercrimes are initiated ‘off-shore’, and this presents enormous challenges to any nations law enforcement agencies.
It is critical that agencies from around the world formulate actionable plans to detect, follow, arrest and prosecute cybercriminals.
The problem of cybercrime seems almost immeasurable in size. Looking at recent trends and advances in mobile technology and cloud computing, we realize it is an ever-evolving and rapidly changing dynamic.