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What is Cybercrime?
At this point of time there is no commonly agreed defination of ‘cybercrime’. The area of cybercrime is very broad and the technical nature of the subject has made extremely difficult for authorities to come up with a precise defination of cybercrime. The British police has defined cybercrime as ‘use of any computer network for crime’ and council of europe has defined cybercrime as ‘any criminal offence against or with help of computer network. The two definations offered by the British police and council of europe are both very broad and they offer very little insight into the nature of conduct which falls under the defined term. Most of us do a vague idea what cybercrime means but it seems that it is very to difficult to pinpoint the exact conduct which can be regarded as cybercrime.
For the purposes of the dissertation, I shall attempt to come up with my own defination of cybercrime, the available definations do not adequately explain the concept of cybercrime.
In order to understand and provide better insight into nature of cybercrime, it will be a good idea to divide cybercrime into two categories because computers can be used in two ways to commit cybercrime.
The first category will include crimes in which the computer was used as tool to commit the offence. The computer has enabled criminals to use the technology to commit crimes such as fraud and copyright privacy. The computer can be exploited just as another technical device which can be exploited, for e.g. a phone can be used to verbally abuse someone or stalk someone, someway the internet can be used to stalk someone or verbally abuse someone.
The second category will include offences which are committed with intention of damaging or modifying computers. In this category the target of the crime is the computer itself, offences such as hacking.
Whichever categories the offence committed falls in, ultimately it is us the humans who have to suffer the consequences of cybercrime.
Now we know that there are two ways in which the computer can be used to commit offences, my defination of cybercrime would be:
“Illegal acts using the computer as instrument to commit an offence, or targeting a computer network to damage or modifying computers for malicious purposes”
Even my defination cannot be regarded as precise, as pointed earlier that due to the broad and technical nature of cybercrime, it almost impossible to come up with a precise defination. The term cybercrime is a social term to describe criminal activities which take place in world of computers, it is not a established term within the criminal law. The fact that there is no legal defination of cybercrime within criminal law makes the whole area of cybercrime very complicated for concerned authorities and the general public, it creates confusion such as what constitutes as cybercrime and if cybercrime cannot be defined properly how will the victims report the crime? the lack of proper defination means that majority of the cybercrime which takes place is unreported as the victims and the authorities are not sure whether the conduct is a cybercrime. It is estimated that 90% of the cybercrime which occurs is unreported.
Types of cybercrime
Computer can be used to commit various crimes, in order to have a better understanding of cybercrime, we shall look at individually the types of crimes which are committed in the world of computers. It will not possible to describe every type of cybercrime which exsits due to the word limit, we will only concentrate on crimes which are considered to be major threats to our security.
Fraud can be defined as use of deception for direct or indirect financial or monetry gain. The internet can be used as means targeting the victim by replicating “real world” frauds such as get rich quick schemes which don’t exist, emails which demand an additional fee to be paid via credit card to stop loss of service such as internet or banking. The increasing availability of the internet means that fraudsters can carry out fraudlent activities on a grand scale. Fraud is a traditional crime which has has existed for centuries and internet is merely a tool by which the fraudsters actions are carried out. Fraud has become a serious threat to e-commerce and other online transactions. Statistcs suggest that internet only accounts for 3% of credit card fraud, credit card fraud is one of the more difficult frauds to commit on the internet, however other forms of fraud such as phising are more easier to carry out using the internet.
Phising is a form of fraud which is rapildy incresing. Phising is when you get emails from commercial organisations such your bank and other financial institutions, they would ask you to update your details, emails look geniune and it is a scam to trick people on giving their details. There are no official figures available on ‘phising scams’ but on average I receive about three emails everyday asking me to update my bank account details. Recently there was email going around asking the staff members and students of LSBU to update their personal details, the email looked geniune but the ICT staff informed students/staff to ignore as it was a trick to gain personal information. Since the advancement of technology, it is has become easier and cheaper to communicate and fraudsters are also taking advantage of technology because it is easier to exploit the internet and it is cheaper than other alternatives such as phone and postal mail.
There are other forms of fraud such as auction fraud, it is when buy goods in auction and you pay for the item but your item will never turn up.
Fraud is one of the lucrative crimes on the internet, experts suggest that it is more than trafficking drugs. The reasons why fraudsters prefer internet is because:
- Internet has made mass communication easy and it is cheap, same email can be sent to millions of people very easily and cheaply with just one click of button.
- Majority of users do not have adeuate knowledge on how technology works, this makes it easy for fraudsters to fool innocent people into taking an action such as giving their personal details.
- Internet users are considered naïve in the sense that they have too much faith in the information they receive via the internet, therefore, they do not take necessary steps to verify the information and often get tricked in handing out their credit card or personal details.