What are cyber crimes?

Posted: February 13, 2011 in Features...

Cyber crimes are one of the fastest-growing criminal activities in the world. It ranges from financial scams, computer hacking, pornography, virus attacks, and stalking, among others. It is defined as the use of any computer network for crime. Here’s a list of several cyber crimes and their basic definitions:

1. Hacking– refers to activities of computer geniuses who challenge the IT systems of governments and big corporations by hacking them. The “love-bug” virus for example crippled at least 45 million computers worldwide, and caused billions of dollars in damage.

2. Fraud and Extortion– some hackers break into the computer systems of banks or businesses to steal money or credit card information. There are also scams by cyber-criminals wherein they set up fake companies on the Internet and tempt unsuspecting buyers with low prices. Once credit card details are supplied, the site suddenly disappears.

Online auction sites also provide opportunities for fraud since money can just be pocketed without the goods being delivered. As long as the website is credible-looking, there is no way of checking if the site owner is legitimate.

3. Identity Theft– criminals check public databases or social networking sites for information such as date of birth, social security number and addresses. They then use these data to apply for credit cards.

4. Pornography– the availability of pornography on the Internet is mind-boggling. Pedophiles use the Internet to exchange pornographic images of children, and there are hundreds of thousands of obscene images on the Web. Be careful not to mistakenly access these sites especially that   web browsing histories can be viewed.

5. Piracy– be it gaming, music, movie, or software piracy, it all means a loss of potential revenue to certain companies/individuals. There are a lot of websites where movies or albums can be downloaded, which in turn are burned into CD-ROMs to be sold. The MP3 format has also made it easier to distribute music files over the Internet.

6. Gambling– virtual casinos operate in cyber space, and they are oftentimes based in countries that do not regulate them.

7. Cyber-stalking– unwanted e-mail from a persistent sender can amount to harassment, and it gets difficult to catch the culprit if he or she manages to conceal his or her identity. Stalkers often try their best to obtain personal information about their victims online.

Here are some additional reading on cyber stalking:

8. Hate Sites- there are websites run by extremists to promote racial or religious hatred. Sometimes, even just publishing someone’s name and address on the Internet can constitute to a threat in their safety.

Sources:

“Cybercrime.” Retrieved October 20, 2010 from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2001/life_of_crime/cybercriminals.stm
“Cyberstalking and harassment FAQ.” Retrieved October 20, 2010 from
http://wiredsafety.org/cyberstalking_harassment/index.html
“How to report cyberabuse using our tiplines.” Retrieved October 20, 2010 from
http://wiredsafety.org/911/index.html

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