The first recorded cyber crime took place in the year 1820! That is not surprising considering the fact that the abacus, which is thought to be the earliest form of a computer, has been around since 3500 B.C. in India, Japan and China. The era of modern computers, however, began with the analytical engine of Charles Babbage. Cyber crime is an evil having its origin in the growing dependence on computers in modern life. In a day and age when everything from microwave ovens and refrigerators to nuclear power plants is being run on computers, cyber crime has assumed rather sinister implications. Major cyber crimes in the recent past include the Citibank rip off. US $ 10 million were fraudulently transferred out of the bank and into a bank account in Switzerland. A Russian hacker group led by Vladimir Kevin, a renowned hacker, perpetrated the attack. The group compromised the bank's security systems. Vladimir was allegedly using his office computer at AO Saturn, a computer firm in St. Petersburg, Russia, to break into Citibank computers. He was finally arrested on Heathrow airport on his way to Switzerland.
Defining Cyber Crime
Defining cyber crimes, as "acts that are punishable by the Information Technology Act" would be unsuitable as the Indian Penal Code also covers many cyber crimes, such as email spoofing and cyber defamation, sending threatening emails etc. A simple yet sturdy definition of cyber crime would be "unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both".
Financial crimes - This would include cheating, credit card frauds, money laundering etc. To cite a recent case, a website offered to sell Alphonso mangoes at a throwaway price. Distrusting such a transaction, very few people responded to or supplied the website with their credit card numbers. These people were actually sent the Alphonso mangoes. The word about this website now spread like wildfire. Thousands of people from all over the country responded and ordered mangoes by providing their credit card numbers. The owners of what was later proven to be a bogus website then fled taking the numerous credit card numbers and proceeded to spend huge amounts of money much to the chagrin of the card owners.
Cyber pornography - (to publish and print the material) and the Internet (to download and transmit pornographic pictures, photos, writings etc). Recent Indian incidents revolving this would include pornographic websites; pornographic magazines produced using computers around cyber pornography include the Air Force Balbharati School case. A student of the Air Force Balbharati School, Delhi, was teased by all his classmates for having a pockmarked face. Tired of the cruel jokes, he decided to get back at his tormentors. He scanned photographs of his classmates and teachers, morphed them with nude photographs and put them up on a website that he uploaded on to a free web hosting service. It was only after the father of one of the class girls featured on the website objected and lodged a complaint with the police that any action was taken.
In another incident, in Mumbai a Swiss couple would gather slum children and then would force them to appear for obscene photographs. They would then upload these photographs to websites specially designed for paedophiles. The Mumbai police arrested the couple for pornography.
Sale of illegal articles - This would include sale of narcotics, weapons and wildlife etc., by posting information on websites, auction websites, and bulletin boards or 167 simply by using email communication. E.g. many of the auction sites even in India are believed to be selling cocaine in the name of 'honey'.
Online gambling - There are millions of websites; all hosted on servers abroad, that offer online gambling. In fact, it is believed that many of these websites are actually fronts for money laundering.
Intellectual Property crimes - These include software piracy, copyright infringement, trademarks...
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