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Essay: Overview of cybercrime

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  • Published: 4 September 2022*
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With the recent advances in technology, cybercrime is at an all-time high. Computer crime has been an issue in criminal justice and criminology since the 1970s. However, many of those crimes were directed towards businesses, government agencies, or universities. As they have transitioned to virtually anyone, cybercrime is certainly one of the most serious modern threats in the world presently. Malicious activities such as harassment, phishing, and identity theft are of the most common activities committed by cyber criminals. In this venue, the types of computer crimes have been categorized in two ways. First, a prevalent activity is that of criminals stealing computers. More commonly criminals use computers to commit crimes. The creation and development of the Internet have created a substantial increase in criminals using computers to commit crimes. One of the most prominent crimes criminals commit is cybercrime. Cybercrime is a criminal act using a computer that occurs over the Internet. The Internet has become the main culprit for a multitude of crime and different ways to perform these crimes. The evidence is overwhelming when looking at the increase of numbers of cybercrimes each year. In this paper, I will research the types of cybercrime markets, fraud, communities, as well as how the justice system responds and handles the ever-growing topic. This paper explores an overview of cybercrimes, the cyber-crime perpetrators and their motivations as well as different avenues of crime embedded within the umbrella of cybercrime.

I. Introduction: Cybercrime Defined

Cybercrime is just what one would expect, a crime that is committed with the assistance of virtual platforms. The old saying that “crime doesn’t pay” doesn’t seem to apply to cybercrime. It pays for cybercriminals and it costs businesses a great deal of money. New trends in cybercrime are emerging all the time, with estimated costs to the global economy running to an estimated $600 billion dollars which rounds out to be about 0.8 percent of global GDP. The $155 billion jumps since 2014, attributed to the speed with which new technology is adopted by cybercriminals and an increase in the number of internet users in parts of the world with weak cybersecurity. In the past, cybercrime was committed mainly by individuals or small groups. Today, we are seeing highly complex cybercriminal networks bring together individuals from across the globe in real time to commit crimes on an unprecedented scale. Banks remain the favorite target of cybercriminals, the report says, and nation-states are the most dangerous source of cybercrime. Russia, North Korea, and Iran are the most active in hacking financial institutions, while China is the most active in cyber espionage.

Crimes against the government are common and this includes terrorism and espionage, but also cover much lesser crimes that occur on a state level, like resisting arrest or perjury. All charges contain the same underlying assertion that the accused showed a lack of respect or offered resistance towards the authority of the government. Often these crimes involve obstructing the legal system in some way. For example, preventing a policeman from performing his duty or lying under oath are both crimes against the government. However, crimes against people refer to a broad array of criminal offenses which usually involve bodily harm, the threat of bodily harm, or other actions committed against the will of an individual. Those involving bodily harm include assault, battery, and domestic violence. Additionally, offenses such as harassment, kidnapping, and stalking also are considered crimes against the person.

The growing issue of Cybercrime

Approximately five percent of all internet users fall prey to cybercrime, making cybercrime a dangerous problem facing modern society. This number is only increasing as technology advances. Almost any crime can translate into the cyber world, many of them happening when you least expect it. As people surf the Internet, they may be completely unaware that someone is stealing your money or identity. Understanding cybercrime and its components can help protect from security breaches. There are many ways to violate someone’s cybersecurity. A person will be guilty of computer trespass when they use a computer or computer network with knowledge that such use is without authority with the intention of. They will also be guilty when they are caught deleting or in any way removing, either temporarily or permanently, any computer program or data from a computer or computer network. Obstructing, interrupting, or in any way interfering with the use of a computer program or data or altering, damaging, or in any way causing the malfunction of a computer, computer network, or computer program, regardless of how long the alteration, damage, or malfunction persists.

II. Cybercrime Markets

Common forms of cybercrime include phishing which is the use of fake email messages to get personal information from internet users, misusing personal information or known as identity theft, hacking which is shutting down or misusing websites or computer networks, more commonly spreading hate and inciting terrorism, distributing child pornography, and lastly grooming, that is making sexual advances to minors. Stalking and harassment is another intricate part of cybercrime. Stalking and harassment are at an all-time high. This essentially refers to a broad array of criminal offenses which usually involve bodily harm, the threat of bodily harm, or other actions committed against the will of an individual. Cyberbullying is a huge aspect of cybercrime that’s gained commonality as the technology advances. There is data that shows how cyberharassment is a serious dilemma. All states have anti-stalking laws, but their legal definitions vary. Some state laws require that the perpetrator, to qualify as a stalker, make a credible threat of violence against the victim. Others require only that the stalker’s conduct constitute an implied threat. In June 2014, the Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel conducted a nationally representative survey of internet users’ experiences with online harassment. “The survey found that 40% of internet users have personally experienced online harassment.” Social media is the most common way that users experience harassment. Social media consumes everyone. Up until a few years ago it only consumed millennials, but recently everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of social media obsession. Online gaming communications, websites’ comments sections, and email are other common venues. Young adults between ages 18-24 are most likely to experience it; 70% reported having been the target of some kind of online harassment. Young women are most likely to experience severe forms of harassment; 26% have been stalked online, and 25% have been the target of online sexual harassment. 38% of people who have experienced online harassment said that a stranger was responsible for their most recent incident, and 26% said that they did not know the real identity of the perpetrator. 37% of those who have experienced more severe forms including sexual harassment, stalking, physical threats or sustained harassment reported that the incident was “extremely” or “very” upsetting. About 33% felt that their reputation had been damaged by the experience. In recent years stalkers have seized on the anonymity of the Internet to commit their crimes. This has added a new dimension because many victims of cyberstalking don’t know the identity of the stalkers. That can make the fear more palpable and prosecution more unlikely. As technology evolves, so does the practice of cyberstalking. A web-savvy stalker can wreak havoc on the life of a victim, both online and offline. This can be incredibly damaging, particularly as more people use the Internet to pay bills, make friends, date, work, share ideas and find jobs. Cyberstalking is difficult to combat because the stalker could be in another state or sitting three cubicles away from the victim. In the anonymous world of the Internet, it is difficult to verify a stalker’s identity, collect the necessary evidence for an arrest and then trace the cyberstalker to a physical location.

Child Exploitation

It is an alarming trend stepping into the spotlight of cybercrime. Mobile devices also provide new and evolving means by which offenders sexually abuse children as apps are being used to target, recruit, and coerce children to engage in sexual activity. Experts believe tens of thousands of children globally are sexually exploited online, and the number appears to be growing. The victims may be boys or girls, ranging from very young children to adolescents, and hailing from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. A tremendous amount of youth and adults think sharing software, games, music, e-books, pictures, etc. is just a convenient tool to help reduce costs. In fact, digital piracy is often portrayed as a victimless crime, but that portrayal is false. Software piracy is the illegal copying, distribution, or use of the software. It is such a profitable “business” that it has caught the attention of organized crime groups in a number of countries. According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), about 36% of all software in current use is stolen. Software piracy causes significant lost revenue for publishers, which in turn results in higher prices for the consumer. Criminals will hide behind fake promotions like contest forms, coupons, free giveaways, and gift vouchers to try to get people to give up their personal information. They will attempt to make you feel secure by telling you that your information will not be shared with a third party. Cybercriminals also know how to create legitimate-looking emails to pose as institutions like banks. They gain access to personal information by asking you to verify your online banking password or account number on the pretense of there being a problem with your online account which you must log in to resolve. This is a common crime committed in the cyber community.

III. Cyber-fraud

For decades, computer security specialists have spent a ton hardening their organizations’ defenses against external fraud and cyber-crime threats. The most common of hacking techniques are viruses, worms, Trojan horses, keyloggers, and other common forms of malicious attack that resulted in either system sabotage, theft of confidential information, or diversion of the organization’s financial assets or those of its customers. Only in the past few years has it become abundantly clear that insiders are equally if not more serious fraud threats to their employers than outsiders. Today, any organization lacking a stringent set of internal computer security policies, processes, and procedures to counter the numerous threats of insider fraud puts itself at serious risk of financial and reputational damage, as well as legal and/or regulatory repercussions in the event of a successful insider attack. While monitoring and assessing insider computer fraud risks are potentially complex and costly—as are the identification and implementation of optimal antifraud technology, policies, and procedures—understanding the actual nature of the insider computer fraud threat is surprisingly simple. The key elements of computer fraud include accessing or using a computer without authorization, or by exceeding authorization, accessing or using a computer with the intent to commit a fraudulent or other criminal activity. “Other criminal act” can refer to illegally obtaining restricted data or confidential financial information, or damaging or destroying information contained in a computer.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a trend that that has been ongoing for years and has picked up through the cyber world. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the government agency that maintains a sort of warehouse for identity theft complaints, the crime falls into six major categories: Employment- or tax-related fraud, credit card fraud, phone and utility fraud, bank fraud, loan and lease fraud, government documents or benefits fraud. Employment- or tax-related fraud contributes 34%, where a criminal uses someone else’s Social Security number and other personal information to gain employment or to file an income tax return. Credit card fraud takes up 33% of crime where the thief uses someone else’s credit card or credit card number to make fraudulent purchases. Phone or utility fraud holds at 13%. Here the criminal uses another person’s personal information to open a wireless phone or utility account. Bank fraud holding at 12%, is where the person committing fraud uses someone else’s personal information to take over an existing financial account or to open a new account in someone else’s name. Loan or lease fraud is where a borrower or a lessee uses someone else’s information to obtain the loan or lease, this attributes to 7%. Lastly, Government documents or benefits fraud also at 7%. This is when a criminal uses stolen personal information to obtain government benefits. Each of these six categories makes up a large piece of the cyber theft category.


Digital forensics

IV. Cybercrime Communities

  • Web platforms
  • White-collar crime
  • Social impacts of cybercrime

V. How the Justice system reply’s/Conclusion

Law enforcement agencies around the world are working together to develop more partnerships, new forensic methodologies and new responses to cybercrime in order to ensure safety and security on the internet. New skills, technologies and investigative techniques, applied in a global context, will be required to detect, prevent and respond to cybercrime.


FBI Roles on Crime

Cyber safety is what the FBI emphasizes. If a person is a victim of cybercrime there are many outlets to combat the issue and protect oneself. Take advantage of privacy settings on all outlets in the cyber community. With some social networking sites, a person may be able to make a profile completely private simply by checking a box. With others, such as Facebook, privacy settings can be complex to navigate. Take advantage of added security settings to ensure safety. One of the best examples is two-factor authentication. Limit how much personal information is posted to an account. For example, do not include contact information, your birth date, the city of birth or names of family members. Do not accept “friend requests” from strangers. Avoid online polls or quizzes, particularly those that ask for personal information. Don’t post photographs of a person’s home that might indicate its location. For example, don’t post photographs showing a house number or an identifying landmark in the background. Use caution when joining online organizations, groups or “fan pages.” Never publicly RSVP to events shown online. Use caution when connecting cellular devices to social networking accounts. Avoid posting information about current or future locations, or providing information a stalker may later use to hone in on a location, such as a review of a restaurant. Always use a strong, unique password for every social networking site.

Violent Crimes Against Children (VCAC) Program

Areas for improvement

Digital evidence will become more commonplace, even in traditional crimes, and we must be prepared to deal with this new challenge. This new business will be characterized by new forms of crime, a far broader scope and scale of offending and victimization, the need to respond in a much more timely way, and challenging technical and legal complexities. Innovative responses such as the creation of cybercops, cybersports, and cyber-judges may eventually be required to overcome the significant jurisdictional issues.


The Internet is often described as a wonderful tool, an engaging place, and a liberating experience…but for whom? There is the potential for many people to become victims to the growing pool of criminals who skillfully navigate the Net. Cyberspace is an environment that is intangible and dynamic. This paper argues that Cyber Crime or e-crime presents a new form of business and Hi-tech Criminals. The Internet changes everything. It upset our notions of how things should be, how countries should be governed, how companies should be run, how teachers teach and children learn, and even how housewives make new recipes. It mixes up our conceptual framework of what we think we know about the world, about each other and about ourselves. It is liberating, exciting, challenging and terrifying all at the same time. To a majority of the people, the Internet remains mysterious, forbidding, incomprehensible and frightening. Along with the phenomenal growth of the Internet has come the growth of cyber-crime opportunities. As a result of the rapid adoption of the Internet globally, computer crimes include not only hacking and cracking, but now also include extortion, child pornography, money laundering, fraud, software pirating, and corporate espionage, to name a few. Law enforcement officials have been frustrated by the inability of legislators to keep cyber-crime legislation ahead of the fast-moving technological curve. At the same time, legislators face the need to balance the competing interests. Criminal behavior on the Internet, or cybercrime, presents as one of the major challenges of the future.


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