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Cyber Crime

INTRODUCTION

Now-a-days the word 'Cyber crime' is very familiar among almost all of us. Everyday we see a number of cases falling under the category of 'Cyber crimes'. There is not much difference between the conventional crimes and cyber crimes; the only difference being the mode in which it is done. Both Cyber crimes and Conventional crimes include conduct whether act or omission, which leads to breach of rules of law and counterbalanced by the sanction of the state. We can say that conventional crime is the genus and cyber crime as one of the species where computer or internet is the subject of the conduct constituting crime.

Cyber crime is no where austerely defined. Generally speaking, 'Cyber crime' can be defined as some activities committed on internet which is of criminal nature or we can say that criminal activities done with the help of computer and internet. The Scenario became like what we see today with the advent of new networked technologies. With the development of advanced networked technologies, the opportunities and chances for illegal and criminal activities have increased considerably.

Internet has now become the most venomous and dangerous enemy of man and society. Though it opens a world full of knowledge and information, its uses are exploited unnecessarily to do criminal activities and also those which are illegal in nature and this is the reason why we compare technologies to a coin, that is, like a coin technologies also have two sides, the head being the advantageous part and the tail being the disadvantageous part. Apart from the uses it provides, it has a number of disadvantages also and cyber crimes are the most important among them. Though we say that the technologies have made one's life easier, faster and safe; it has its own problems. It, simultaneously, provide for both good and bad things, that is, when offenders exploit and use new technologies to commit crimes, the investigators use the very same technologies for investigation, apprehension and protection. Not much difference can be inferred from the cyber crimes committed in the past and the present except for the time factor. The span of time for a cyber crime opportunity to develop into cyber crime signal is now calculated in hours and minutes rather than months and years.

Cyber crimes may be generally classified under the following three categories.

Cyber crimes against individuals includes:

  1. Harassment via e-mails
  2. Cyber stalking
  3. Dissemination of obscene material
  4. Defamation
  5. Unauthorized access over computer system
  6. Indecent exposure
  7. E-mail spoofing
  8. Cheating and fraud

Cyber crimes against individual property:

  1. Computer vandalism
  2. Transmitting virus
  3. Netrespass
  4. Unauthorized control over computer system
  5. Intellectual Property crimes
  6. Internet time thefts

Cyber crimes against organisations:

  1. Unauthorized access over computer system
  2. Possession of unauthorized information
  3. Cyber terrorism against the government organisations
  4. Distribution of pirated software etc.

Cyber crimes against society at large:

  1. Pornography
  2. Polluting the youth through indecent exposure
  3. Trafficking
  4. Financial crimes
  5. Sale of illegal articles
  6. Online gambling
  7. Forgery

CYBER CRIME AS AN INTERNATIONAL MENACE

Cyber crimes are increasing rapidly over the past few years with the growth of computer technology. They are having an impact on each and every corner of the world. In countries like U.K, America and china, a number of internet related threats have been reported over the past few years. This is mainly because of the increasing reliance on the computer network and the World Wide Web. The victims of these crimes are not the individuals alone, but also the different business organisations or society at large. The persons who indulge in these crimes have no borders and boundaries. These criminals use different programs that pop in themselves into people's computers, then search automatically for relevant and insightful financial data or record other things like usernames and passwords when others log in and then send these data to the main computers through internet where the criminals retrieve the information they want and use them to get details on bank or stock accounts.

Quick development in the field of computer technology is giving ample opportunities to the criminal organisations to exploit them and commit crimes. Classic examples of such type of crimes are transmitting of crimes collected capitals, untaxed financial operations, cracks and weapon sales through internet, crimes committed through e-mail, theft of passwords and accessing network codes, hacker attacks, unlawful information coping (including commercial and confidential one), producing and use of cloned personal radio electronic measures.

One of the main threats that the cyber crimes poses to the world is terrorism, that is, the confluence of cyber crime and terrorism. The reason for this is simple: They are ready targets. The victim countries are either highly reliant on cyber means for almost every significant public dealings or are racing towards that target. They look for the pace, precision, competence, and effortlessness that a "wired" system of systems brings and all the benefits that ensue to such a position. Cyber threats that we face today can be grouped into seven categories. They are individual hackers, small criminals, terrorist use of internet, cyber espionage, organized crime, nation-state cyber attacks and nation-state cyber-enabled kinetic attack. Individual hackers constitute the lowest danger level. They operate for their own personal satisfaction and gain. Individual hackers also include groups which attack small organisations due to personal or political reasons. Then comes the next level threat, that is, small criminals. They are low-level annoyances; except for the ill-fated individuals they make use of as their most important targets. These operate Internet scams, bilking people out of personal information, and may even commit extortion through threats. After these two low level threats comes the medium level of cyber threats:

  1. Terrorist use of the internet
  2. Cyber espionage, and
  3. Organized crime

All three of these can have very harmful effects on a person, a business, a government, or a state. They occur frequently and define the enduring significant threats we face every day. Continuing along the spectrum, the high level threats are very significant in nature. These come in two main groups. The first one is nation-state cyber attack. The apt example of this was the assault made on Estonia in 2007. There, the extremely developed network of a small country was temporarily brought to its knees. The other one is the nation-state cyber enabled kinetic attack. An example would be the 2008 assault on Georgia. Georgia was not as dependent on the cyber realm as was Estonia, but the cyber assault that preceded the Russian military's ground attack into Ossetia harshly caught up Georgia's response.

Another main threat is Cyber stalking. It is not rigorously defined anywhere and there is no universally approved definition for cyber stalking. It refers to the use of internet or computer network to stalk another person. It includes harassing, threatening continuously, following a person, leaving harassing and threatening mails, vandalizing person's property etc. Cyber stalkers target their victims by using chat rooms, search engines and social networking communities like Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, etc. Cyber stalkers engage in live chats and stalk people with whom he is chatting with or they send e-viruses or unwanted e-mails to persons and the victims may not even know that they are being stalked. Most cyber stalking incidents involve making threats against the victim, his family, friends etc. They threaten people through e-mails and via instant messages. Some cyber stalkers use internet and e-mail to harm the reputation of the victims. They, with the help of e-mail, put false posts and information about them. Some others send abusive and offensive e-mails to the victims inorder to abuse the victim. Certain other cyber stalkers attempt to gather information about the victims, encourage others to harass the victim and also physically assault them. Most of the harassments are made through e-mails and chat rooms and majority of the victims have no idea as to the identity of the Cyber stalker. In a study it was said that most of the victims were female and aged 30 years or older and most respondents lived in U.S or U.K.

Cell phones, being more powerful and within your means, some people have started using cell phones to harass others. Most number of harassments take place by way of threatening messages and calls. Modern phones equipped with cameras are also being utilised by the stalkers. They use these modern phones to take the photographs and video clips as a means of victimizing others.

Apart from these crimes like hacking, security related crimes, pornography on the net etc. also have great impact on the society as a whole. Hacking and security related crimes poses threat not only to the individuals, but also to the different commercial and business organisations. With the growth of internet, network security has become a major worry. IP spoofing, password attacks etc. are rapidly creating problems in the international community. The private information of various business organisations are obtained by the criminals through these methods thereby affecting the very existence of such organisations.

The most evil and sneaky criminals are the ones who operate completely under the radar. In this modern sophisticated world security breaches happen all the time, and in the best cases the offenders get tracked down by the FBI or some other law enforcement agency. It's the ones who go uncaught and unidentified are actually the best. There had been many instances where cyber crimes have been committed and left with no clue as to who did it. The only information available is the damage or devastation left in their wake. Some of them are the following:

1. The WANK worm

It is possibly the most stunning and first hacking instance in the world which happened in October 1989. The WANK worm (Worms Against Nuclear Killers) hit NASA offices in Greenbelt, Maryland as part of a protest to stop the launch of the plutonium-fueled, Jupiter-bound Galileo probe. Cleaning up after the crack has been said to have cost NASA up to a half of a million dollars in time and resources and to this day, no one has been able to get information as to the brains behind the WANK worm.

2. Hacking of Ministry of Defence Satellite

A small group of hackers gained control of a MoD Skynet military satellite and signaled a security interruption on February 1999. It was characterised by the officials as "information warfare", where an enemy attacks by disrupting military communications. Though the U.S. Air Force and the Scotland Yard's Computer Crimes Unit worked together to investigate the case, no information was gathered and no arrests were made.

3. CD universe Credit card breach

The "Maxus Credit Card Pipeline" has remained unsolved since early 2000. The hacker stole the credit card information of over 300,000 credit card numbers by breaching CDUniverse.com and demanded a sum of hundred thousand dollars in exchange for destroying the data obtained. The only information available is that the hacker is from Eastern Europe and the case still remains unsolved.

4. Code for Exigent's OS/COMET Software stolen

In December 2000, a hacker decoded the government-contracted Exigent Software Technology and nabbed two-thirds of the code for Exigent's OS/COMET software, which is accountable for both missile and satellite guidance, from the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C. Officials were able to go after the trail of the hacker "Leaf" to the University of Kaiserslautern in Germany, but the trial ended there because no further information could be gathered.

5. Dennis Kucinich on CBSNews.com

During the presidential campaign in 2003, a hacker replaced the homepage of CBSNews.com by the campaign's logo. The page then redirected to a half an hour video named "This is the Moment" in which the candidate Kucinich laid down his political philosophy. Kucinich Campaign denied the involvement in the hack and the real hacker is not yet identified.

These examples show that the cyber crimes are increasing every year and the technologies are being used to the maximum extent giving no evidence and clue as to the brains behind these acts.

CYBER CRIME IN UK

We know that since the world entered the field of technology, the crime rates are increasing. Cyber crime, being the outcome of the development in technologies, is the most commonly seen crime in various countries. Cyber crimes are affecting more in developed countries. Various reports make it clear that U.S, U.K, Canada, and China etc. are the countries seriously being affected with the increasing number of cyber crimes.

In U.K, it is seen that the cyber crimes are increasing rapidly over the years. According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center 2007 annual report, the United States stood first in the list of nations responsible for perpetrating most number of cyber crimes, followed by Britain. Online harassment, identity theft, identity fraud, sexual offences, computer misuse and offences against persons are soaring in Britain.

According to the new reports, more than 3.5 million online crimes were committed in Britain in the year 2006, that is, one cyber crime being committed every second. Majority of the cases were connected with threatening mails, online frauds and blackmail attempts. The sharpest rise was in online financial fraud, that is, 20 percent rise. About 200,000 cases of online financial fraud were reported in U.K in the year 2006, that is, almost double the rate of real-world robberies that took place in U.K. about 19,000 illicit traders were identified. A number of cases relating to identity theft and sexual offences were also reported. About 92,000 cases of identity theft were found during the year 2006. Utility bills, passports and bank notes were the top three stolen documents used by the frauders to attempt identity fraud. Although it is anticipated that the relative strength of online frauders will remain stable in the coming years, the means of facilitating the identity theft would alter such that an escalating number of offences are committed online. Because of the increasing developments in the field of technology, the frauders and hackers are becoming sophisticated and hence the online frauds are expected to increase in the coming years. Sources also say that 1,944,000 cases of online harassment were reported in the year 2006 alone. Online harassments have taken place in the form of unsolicited e-mails, defamations and chat abuses and the most interesting part is that 90% of these online harassments go unreported. Same is the case with computer misuse. About 144,500 cases of computer misuse were reported excluding virus cases and approximately 6,000,000 virus cases took place. 850,000 cases regarding sexual offences were also reported in year 2006 in Britain.

As Cyber criminals are growing in sophistication and organized crimes are increasing in U.K., it is resulting in billions lost in down time, loss of clients, system damages etc. The cost of cyber crime to U.K. business is rapidly coming up. The estimated minimum cost of impact of high-tech cyber crimes on U.K based companies with more than thousand employees was more than US$4.61 billion according to the report of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. A survey conducted by NOP for the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit consisting of 200 large and medium-size companies in Britain. It said that 89 percent of the companies had experienced some form of high-tech crime and 90 percent of those suffered from unauthorized access to their company systems while 89 percent of them faced with the problem of theft of information or data. Furthermore, almost 97 percent of the companies said that they had experienced with the problem of virus attacks costing about 71 million pounds and financial fraud costing about 68.2 million pounds.

The biggest trend in cybercrime has been the emergence of organized crime. With the advent of new and new technologies, the way in which the crimes are committed are becoming more and more organized. On average, a company experiences 7 virus attacks a day and this vary with different companies. Cyber crimes are taking its new forms and the consumers are becoming more scared to conduct any transaction through the internet. With the rapid increase or problems in the country, Britain has been holding talks with the U.S and Canada to operate against cyber attacks. United Kingdom has already spent about 25 million pounds in the last three years for curbing cyber crimes, where 10 million pounds is spent on creating corresponding departments for its control and 15 million pounds on developing the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit. British government has agreed to a European Union tactic which allows police to sneak on personal computers remotely for confidential and personal information all through Europe. Although this is not legally binding, the U.K police have already started some of such operations. Under the U.K law police is allowed to do so in order to prevent such crimes. This plan has been made by the council of European Union to act effectively against the rapidly increasing computer crimes.

One of the new ways by which the British Government is fighting against the cyber crimes is by recruiting reformed computer hackers. They are being recruited to defend the country from international criminal gangs and terrorists launching cyber attacks in the country. Ministers are hiring former hackers to protect and guard state secrets because the online frauds are affecting the country very badly and are costing billions of pounds a year. The government believes that the biggest threats come from hackers of China and Russia and then from organized criminals. The Government Communication Headquarters admitted that the posts for hackers require former 'naughty boys' and further added that these naughty boys who were once absolutely into this stuff would obviously enjoy stopping other hackers from doing the same. But several doubts came up from different corners regarding this decision of the British Government because in the cyber security industry it is possibly legitimate to make use of someone who hacks into a company's network as long as they have authorization to do so, but to employ someone who has intentionally caused harm to an organisation or user without permission is a pretty hard sell.

Though many laws and Conventions like Data Protection Act,1998; The Electronic Commerce Regulations, 2002; Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, 2000; European Model EDI agreement Legal Provisions, U.K Electronic Communications Act, 2000; U.K. Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations, Council of Europe's convention on Cybercrime, 2001; The British Code of Advertising, Sales promotion, U.K Consumer Protection Regulations and U.K.. NOMINET Dispute Resolution Service Policy etc. are in existence in U.K, these laws and conventions were not able to bring about a noteworthy change in the situations in Britain. These laws could not effectively control the rapid increase in Cyber Crimes. Only a very few cases were reported and many remained without any result and that is the main problem faced by the British Government and even the other nations today, that is, many of the internet crimes are getting vanished in air. Investigations are reaching no where because no information is available as to the master brains behind these crimes and it's not because of the faults in investigation or ineffectiveness of laws, but because of the development of technology. When technology advances, crimes are also increasing.

COMPARISON WITH CHINA

When the internet crimes are increasing day by day, it is seen that the most serious cyber crimes are emerging from Russia and China. Crimes emanating from China are mostly related to theft of military information, government secrets and intellectual property. Over the past three years, China has faced with a rising internet security problem mainly targeted by a growing number of hackers, virus makers and illegal traders.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry in China on 15,000 companies, 66 percent of the companies had suffered from internet security problems in the last one year, an increase of 11.7 percentages than the previous year. In U.K, majority of the online crimes were threatening mails, online financial fraud and blackmail attempts where as in China, they are computer viruses, Trojans, port scanning, internet attacks and web page management. A big rise from 74 percent to 91.4 percent was witnessed by China in Computer virus attacks. The number of viruses and Trojans has increased rapidly and are being used by various hackers to cause damage to the internet security. Chinese Anti-Virus companies say that they have hijacked more than 134,000 viruses in the very first half of this year, an increase of 12 percent when compared to the last year. China