This type of crime is the illegal exploitation of computer technologies, usually involving the Internet, to support crimes such as fraud, identity theft, sharing of information, and embezzlement. Exactly what is illegal varies greatly from state to state. Consequently, the growth of international data communications and in particular the Internet has made these crimes both more common and more difficult to police. Luckily there are people fighting computer crime and it is taken very seriously by government agencies. In particular the U.S. Department of Justice has an extensive computer forensics team. Computer crime can be broken down into two basic categories. Crimes that are aimed at IT systems, and crimes that turn IT systems into weapons to target other systems and information. Examples of crimes aimed at IT systems are:
- Unauthorized access to or modification of programs (software cracking and hacking). - Spamming wherever outlawed completely or where regulations controlling it are violated. - Deliberate circumvention of computer security systems.
- Writing or spreading computer viruses or worms.
- Denial-of-service attack, where company websites are flooded with service requests and their website is overloaded and either slowed or crashes completely. Examples of crimes which use IT systems as weapons are:
- Fraud achieved by the manipulation of computer records.
- Intellectual property theft, including software piracy.
- Industrial espionage by means of access to or theft of computer materials. - Identity theft where this is accomplished by use of fraudulent computer transactions. - Salami slicing is the practice of stealing money repeatedly in extremely small quantities. - Making and digitally distributing child pornography.
Most Common Computer Crimes
Hacking. Breaking into a computer system to gain an unauthorized access is known as hacking. This entails defeating the security capabilities of a computer system in order to obtain an illegal access to the information stored there. The unauthorized decryption of passwords with intent to gain access to the private communication of an organization of a user is one of the widely known computer crimes. Another aspect of this is the hacking of IP addresses in order to transact with a false identity, thus remaining anonymous while carrying out the criminal activities. Phishing. This is the act of acquiring sensitive information like usernames, passwords and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy source. Phishing is carried out through false emails or by luring the users to enter personal information through fake websites. Criminals often use websites that have a look and feel of some popular website, such as a banking website, which makes the users feel safe to enter their details there. Once this information is entered, criminals will have detailed information that can be used to make fraudulent purchases, or simply siphon money into another account. Computer Viruses. The most commonly known type of computer crime, viruses are computer programs or attachments that can replicate themselves and harm the computer systems by either damaging data or preventing service on a network without the knowledge of the system users. Viruses spread to other computers through network file systems, through the network, website downloads, or by the means of removable devices like USB drives and CDs. Computer viruses are forms of malicious program files written with an aim to harm a computer system and destroy information. Writing computer viruses is a criminal activity as virus infections can crash computer systems, thereby destroying great amounts of critical data. Cyberstalking. The use of communication technology such as email, instant messaging, or social networking websites to torture other individuals is known as cyberstalking. False accusations, transmission of threats, and damage to data and equipment fall under the class of cyberstalking...