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Cybercrime contains all criminal offences which are committed with the aid of communication devices in a network. This can be for example the Internet, the telephone line or the mobile network. 'Bold text'



An international legal definition of cybercrime that is used by most of the countries in Europe and North America as well as South Africa and Japan was agreed to in the Convention on Cybercrime, and entered into force on 1 July 2004. Cyber crime is an umbrella term that covers both the Internet crime and intellectual crime. In other words, cyber crimes are those crimes that can be done with or with the help of the Internet. For example, to gain unauthorized access to someone's computers in order to deleting files, altering web pages, posting stolen credit card numbers, and making unauthorized purchases. In addition, the cyber-crime involves child Pornography or exploitation, computer fraud, Internet harassment, and Internet bomb threats. Cyber crimes also include money laundering and unlawful banking transactions, use of organized crime records or books, and bookmaking. For example, in one case, a suspect committed murder by changing a patient's medication information and dosage in a hospital computer.

Although the term cybercrime is usually restricted to describing criminal activity in which the computer or network is an essential part of the crime, this term is also used to include traditional crimes in which computers or networks are used to enable the illicit activity.

Examples of cybercrime which the computer or network is a tool of the criminal activity include spamming and copyright crimes, particularly those facilitated through peer-to-peer networks.
Examples of cybercrime in which the computer or network is a target of criminal activity include unauthorized access (i.e, defeating access controls), malicious code, and denial-of-service attacks.
Examples of cybercrime in which the computer or network is a place of criminal activity include theft of service (in particular, telecom fraud) and certain financial frauds.
Finally, examples of traditional crimes facilitated through the use of computers or networks include Nigerian 419 or other gullibility or social engineering frauds (e.g., hacking "phishing", identity theft, child pornography, online gambling, securities fraud, etc.). Cyberstalking is an example of a traditional crime -- harassment -- that has taken a new form when facilitated through computer networks.

Additionally, certain other information crimes, including trade secret theft and industrial or economic espionage, are sometimes considered cybercrimes when computers or networks are involved.

Cybercrime in the context of national security may involve hacktivism (online activity intended to influence policy), traditional espionage, or information warfare and related activities.

One of the recent researches showed that a new cybercrime is being registered every 10 seconds in Britain. During 2006 the computer crooks were able to strike 3.24 million times. Some crimes performed on-line even surpassed their equivalents in real world. In addition, experts believe that about 90% of cybercrimes stay unreported.

According to a study performed by Shirley McGuire, a specialist in psychology of the University of San Francisco, the majority of teenagers who hack and invade computer systems are doing it for fun rather than with the aim of causing harm. Shirley McGuire mentioned that quite often parents cannot understand the motivation of the teenage hackers. She performed an anonymous experiment, questioning more than 4,800 students in the area of San Diego. Her results were presented at the American Psychological Association conference:

  • 38% of teenagers were involved in software piracy;
  • 18% of all youngsters confessed of entering and using the information stored on other personal computers or websites;
  • 13% of all the participants mentioned they performed changes in computer systems or computer files.

The study revealed that only 1 out of 10 hackers were interested in causing certain harm or earning money. Most teenagers performed illegal computer actions of curiosity, to experience excitement. Many cyber police are getting more complaints about Orkut these days as many fake profiles are being created and thus facilitating crimes.

Cyber criminology

The neologism of cyber criminology is increasingly used to describe an area of study for criminologists which is separate from cyber forensics.


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  8. Wall, D.S. (2007) Cybercrime: The transformation of crime in the information age, Cambridge: Polity
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Further reading

  • Brenner, S.W. (2007) Law in an Era of Smart Technology, New York: OUP
  • McQuade, S. (2006) Understanding and Managing Cybercrime, Boston: Allyn & Bacon
  • Pattavina, A. (ed.) (2005) Information Technology and the Criminal Justice System, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
  • Wall, D.S. (2007) Cybercrime: The transformation of crime in the information age, Cambridge, UK: Polity
  • Williams, M. (2006) Virtually Criminal: Crime, Deviance and Regulation Online, London, UK: Routledge

External links

Wikinews has news related to this article: Wikibooks has a book on the topic of Legal and Regulatory Issues in the Information Economy

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Categories: Cybercrime | Crime by type | Computer security procedures | Computer network security

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