Cybercrime, or computer-oriented crime, is a crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Cybercrimes can be defined as: "Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet networks including chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups and mobile phones Bluetooth/SMS/MMS". Cybercrime may threaten a person or a nation's security and financial health. Issues surrounding these types of crimes have become high-profile, particularly those regarding hacking, copyright infringement, unwarranted mass-surveillance, sextortion, child pornography, and child grooming.
There are many privacy concerns surrounding cybercrime when confidential information is intercepted or disclosed, lawfully or otherwise. Debarati Halder and K. Jaishankar further define cybercrime from the perspective of gender and defined 'cybercrime against women' as "Crimes targeted against women with a motive to intentionally harm the victim psychologically and physically, using modern telecommunication networks such as internet and mobile phones". Internationally, both governmental and non-state actors engage in cybercrimes, including espionage, financial theft, and other cross-border crimes. Cybercrimes crossing international borders and involving the actions of at least one nation-state is sometimes referred to as cyberwarfare.
A report sponsored by McAfee, published in 2014, estimated that the annual damage to the global economy was $445 billion. Approximately $1.5 billion was lost in 2012 to online credit and debit card fraud in the US. In 2018, a study by Center for Strategic and International Studies CSIS, in partnership with McAfee, concludes that close to $600 billion, nearly one percent of global GDP, is lost to cybercrime each year.
Computer crime encompasses a broad range of activities.
Computer fraud is any dishonest misrepresentation of fact intended to let another to do or refrain from doing something which causes loss. In this context, the fraud will result in obtaining a benefit by:
Other forms of fraud may be facilitated using computer systems, including bank fraud, carding, identity theft, extortion, and theft of classified information. These types of crime often result in the loss of private information or monetary information.
Government officials and information technology security specialists have documented a significant increase in Internet problems and server scans since early 2001. There is a growing concern among government agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations FBI and the Central Intelligence Agency CIA that such intrusions are part of an organized effort by cyberterrorist foreign intelligence services, or other groups to map potential security holes in critical systems. A cyberterrorist is someone who intimidates or coerces a government or an organization to advance his or her political or social objectives by launching a computer-based attack against computers, networks, or the information stored on them.
Cyberterrorism, in general, can be defined as an act of terrorism committed through the use of cyberspace or computer resources Parker 1983. As such, a simple propaganda piece on the Internet that there will be bomb attacks during the holidays can be considered cyberterrorism. There are also hacking activities directed towards individuals, families, organized by groups within networks, tending to cause fear among people, demonstrate power, collecting information relevant for ruining peoples' lives, robberies, blackmailing, etc.
Cyberextortion occurs when a website, e-mail server, or computer system is subjected to or threatened with repeated denial of service or other attacks by malicious hackers. These hackers demand money in return for promising to stop the attacks and to offer "protection". According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, cybercrime extortionists are increasingly attacking corporate websites and networks, crippling their ability to operate and demanding payments to restore their service. More than 20 cases are reported each month to the FBI and many go unreported in order to keep the victim's name out of the public domain. Perpetrators typically use a distributed denial-of-service attack. However, other cyberextortion techniques exist such as doxing extortion and bug poaching.
An example of cyberextortion was the attack on Sony Pictures of 2014.
The U.S. ] Fearing that such attacks may become the norm in future warfare among nation-states, the concept of cyberspace operations impacts and will be adapted by warfighting military commanders in the future.
These crimes are committed by a selected group of criminals. Unlike crimes using the computer as a tool, these crimes require the technical knowledge of the perpetrators. As such, as technology evolves, so too does the nature of the crime. These crimes are relatively new, having been in existence for only as long as computers have—which explains how unprepared society and the world, in general, is towards combating these crimes. There are numerous crimes of this nature committed daily on the internet. It is seldom committed by loners, instead it involves large syndicate groups.
Crimes that primarily target computer networks or devices include:
When the individual is the main target of cybercrime, the computer can be considered as the tool rather than the target. These crimes generally involve less technical expertise. Human weaknesses are generally exploited. The damage dealt is largely psychological and intangible, making legal action against the variants more difficult. These are the crimes which have existed for centuries in the offline world. Scams, theft, and the likes have existed even before the development in high-tech equipment. The same criminal has simply been given a tool which increases their potential pool of victims and makes them all the harder to trace and apprehend.
Crimes that use computer networks or devices to advance other ends include:
The unsolicited sending of bulk email for commercial purposes spam is unlawful in some jurisdictions.
Phishing is mostly propagated via email. Phishing emails may contain links to other websites that are affected by malware. Or, they may contain links to fake online banking or other websites used to steal private account information.
The content of websites and other electronic communications may be distasteful, obscene or offensive for a variety of reasons. In some instances, these communications may be illegal.
The extent to which these communications are unlawful varies greatly between countries, and even within nations. It is a sensitive area in which the courts can become involved in arbitrating between groups with strong beliefs.
One area of Internet pornography that has been the target of the strongest efforts at curtailment is child pornography, which is illegal in most jurisdictions in the world.
Whereas content may be offensive in a non-specific way, harassment directs obscenities and derogatory comments at specific individuals focusing for example on gender, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation.
There are instances where committing a crime using a computer can lead to an enhanced sentence. For example, in the case of United States v. Neil Scott Kramer, Kramer was handed an enhanced sentence according to the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual §2G1.3b3 for his use of a cell phone to "persuade, induce, entice, coerce, or facilitate the travel of, the minor to engage in prohibited sexual conduct." Kramer appealed the sentence on the grounds that there was insufficient evidence to convict him under this statute because his charge included persuading through a computer device and his cellular phone technically is not a computer. Although Kramer tried to argue this point, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual states that the term computer "means an electronic, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, or other high-speed data processing device performing logical, arithmetic, or storage functions, and includes any data storage facility or communications facility directly related to or operating in conjunction with such device."
In the United States alone, Missouri and over 40 other states have passed laws and regulations that regard extreme online harassment as a criminal act. These acts can be punished on a federal scale, such as US Code 18 Section 2261A, which states that using computers to threaten or harass can lead to a sentence of up to 20 years, depending on the action taken.
Several countries outside of the United States have also created laws to combat online harassment. In China, a country that supports over 20 percent of the world's internet users, the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council passed a strict law against the bullying of young people through a bill in response to the Human Flesh Search Engine. The United Kingdom passed the Malicious Communications Act, among other acts from 1997 to 2013, which stated that sending messages or letters electronically that the government deemed “indecent or grossly offensive” and/or language intended to cause “distress and anxiety” can lead to a prison sentence of six months and a potentially large fine. Australia, while not directly addressing the issue of harassment, has grouped the majority of online harassment under the Criminal Code Act of 1995. Using telecommunication to send threats or harass and cause offense was a direct violation of this act.
Although freedom of speech is protected by law in most democratic societies in the US this is done by the First Amendment, it does not include all types of speech. In fact, spoken or written "true threat" speech/text is criminalized because of "intent to harm or intimidate." That also applies for online or any type of network related threats in written text or speech.
Darknet markets are used to buy and sell recreational drugs online. Some drug traffickers use encrypted messaging tools to communicate with drug mules. The dark web site Silk Road was a major online marketplace for drugs before it was shut down by law enforcement then reopened under new management, and then shut down by law enforcement again. After Silk Road 2.0 went down, Silk Road 3 Reloaded emerged. However, it was just an older marketplace named Diabolus Market, that used the name for more exposure from the brand's previous success.