Cybercrime, also called computer crime, is the use of a computer to further illegal activity, such as committing fraud, trafficking child pornography, stealing intellectual property or identities, or violating privacy. Computer crimes have become more common through the Internet. These crimes have grown in importance and severity as computers have become central to our commerce, entertainment, and government.

Because of the early adoption of computers and the Internet in the United States, most of the earliest victims and perpetrators of computer crimes were Americans. However, today, cybercrimes are common in all areas of the globe.

There are two main types of computer crimes. The first is when computers are used to facilitate more traditional crimes and illegal activity, such as fraud, revenge porn, or other white-collar crimes. The second form of computer crime, often known as hacking, is where offenders target their victim’s computer systems for the purpose of copying, interrupting, destroying, or altering the systems, often resulting in a data breach.

What are the Main Kinds of Computer Crimes?

Computer crimes may range across a wide variety of activities. Computer crimes may involve fundamental breaches of personal or company privacy, such as attacks on integrity, attacks on digital information, or the use of illegally obtained information to blackmail businesses or individuals.

Identity theft is a growing type of crime. Fraud, child pornography distribution, digital piracy, money laundering, and counterfeiting are specific types of computer crimes with specific victims. Cybercrime allows the criminal to hide with anonymity on the Internet.

Computer crimes may also involve individuals within corporations or government institutions deliberately altering data for profit or political reasons. Other computer crimes may involve attempts to disrupt the inner workings of the Internet. These attacks include spam, hacking, and cyberterrorism. Cyberterrorism is the act of using the Internet to cause public or political disturbances and even death. Cyberterrorism affects a nation’s economic and technological infrastructure.

Cybercrime typically involves:

  • Child pornography
  • Copyright violation
  • Cracking codes
  • Cyber terrorism
  • Cyberbullying
  • Cyberstalking
  • Cybersquatting
  • Creating malware, viruses, and spyware
  • Data falsification
  • Denial of service attacks
  • Doxing
  • Espionage
  • Fraud
  • Harvesting account-related information
  • Identity theft
  • Illegal sales
  • Intellectual property theft
  • Intellectual property rights violations
  • Phishing
  • Slander
  • Software piracy
  • Spamming
  • Spoofing
  • Theft
  • Unauthorized access to systems
  • Vandalism
  • Wiretapping

What are the Consequences of Computer Crimes?

The consequences of computer crimes include:

  • Imprisonment
  • Fines
  • Probation
  • An offense on your permanent criminal record
  • Other consequences of a felony conviction

What are the Factors that Determine the Punishment for Computer Crimes?

  • The potential or actual value of the loss caused by the offense
  • The level of sophistication and planning involved in the offense
  • Whether the offense was committed for financial gain or commercial benefit
  • Whether the defendant acted with malicious intent
  • The extent to which the victim’s privacy was violated
  • Whether the offense targeted a computer used by the government
  • Whether the offense was intended to threaten the public health and safety

What is ATM Fraud?

Computers make simpler types of fraud more possible. ATM fraud is a common type of fraud that computers may assist with. To access an ATM, a user has to supply a card and a PIN. Criminals have developed ways to intercept data on a card’s magnetic strip, as well as a user’s PIN.

This information is used to create fake cards used to withdraw funds from an individual’s account. ATMs used in shopping centers and convenience stores are effective tools for criminals. These ATMs are free-standing and not physically attached to a bank. Criminals can easily use these machines to gather information about users.

What is Cyberstalking/Harassment?

Victims of cyberstalking are subjected to excessive numbers of online messages. Cyberstalking may occur through social media, online forums, or email. It is common for harassers to have real-world contacts with the victim but use the Internet to stalk them instead of stalking them physically.

What is Child Pornography/Abuse?

This cybercrime involves perpetrators creating or distributing sexual content of children. In some cases, a criminal seeks out minors on the Internet through social media or chatrooms to produce child pornography.

The federal government monitors large numbers of chat rooms to reduce child exploitation. The government maintains large databases of existing child pornographic content that has been shared. Convictions for the distribution of child pornography typically include lengthy prison sentences.

Why Do People Commit Computer Crimes?

In most cases, criminals commit computer crimes to obtain money. Some may steal by way of computer crimes out of desperation or revenge. Some commit computer crimes to prove to themselves that they can do it. Some hackers like to create chaos and wreak havoc on people and businesses. Some criminals simply commit cybercrimes because they are bored and don’t care if they commit a crime.

Victims of Computer Crimes

If you are a victim of a computer crime, you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will forward your case to the District Attorney’s office to prosecute the person who committed the crime against you. If the crime involves your finances, you should immediately contact your bank and credit card companies and inform them of the problem. You may even wish to freeze or close the accounts. If you are having trouble recovering your assets, a lawyer may be able to help you.

How Can Identity Theft Affect My Privacy?

In the United States, individuals do not have an official identity card but instead have a Social Security number that serves as an identification number. Taxes are collected through each person’s Social Security number. Private institutions use Social Security numbers to keep track of employees, students, and patients.

If another person accesses your Social Security number, they have the opportunity to gather all of the documents related to your personal citizenship or steal your identity. Stolen credit card information can be used to reconstruct a person’s identity. When criminals steal credit card records, they might use credit card information to pile up huge bills. They might sell this information for other individuals to use similarly. Criminals may also use individual credit card names and numbers to create new identities for other criminal activities.

For example, a criminal might contact the bank of a stolen credit card and change the mailing address attached to the account. Criminals may get a passport or driver’s license with their own picture, but with the victim’s name. With a new driver’s license and passport, criminals can easily acquire a new Social Security card. With a new Social Security card, criminals can open bank accounts and receive loans, all while using the victim’s credit record and background.

Original cardholders are often unaware that their identity has been stolen until the bank contacts them. By then, a large debt may have been accumulated.

What Can You Do if You are Accused of Computer Crimes?

If you are accused of a computer crime, you should immediately speak to a criminal lawyer to learn more about your rights, defenses, and the complicated legal system.

LegalMatch’s database of criminal attorneys is broad and comprehensive. By using the link provided here, you can use LegalMatch’s services to find an excellent attorney in your area. By using LegalMatch’s services, you can narrow down your search for a lawyer in your city or state by selecting the issues involved in your case. There is no fee to present your case. LegalMatch’s services are always 100% confidential.