While researching about my topic, the common trend I noticed was cybercrime is a very serious issue that affects people across the world daily. Cybercrime is more of a threat now than it was before, due to the pure number of linked people and devices (Norton). People need to be aware of the possible dangers that could possibly affect them at some point in their life. My goal in writing this paper is to discuss the different forms of cybercrime and the impacts that they can have on a persons’ life.
2. What is Cybercrime?
Cybercrime, defined by Norton as: crimes that have some kind of computer or cyber characteristic to it (Norton). Also, Cybercrime has been more recently defined as a crime which essentially denotes the use of computer technology to commit, or to make the commission of unlawful acts easier (Brenner). The Merriam-Webster Law Dictionary defines Cybercrime as crime committed electronically (theft, fraud, intellectual property violations, or distribution of child pornography).
The group responsible for investigating criminal cyber-attacks, overseas adversaries, and terrorists is the FBI (FBI).
Cyber intrusions are becoming more common, dangerous, and sophisticated. Both private and public-sector networks are being targeted by adversaries in the United States American companies are targeted for trade secrets and other delicate corporate data. Universities are targeted for their cutting-edge research and development (FBI).
Citizens are targeted by fraudsters, while children are targeted by online predators. Cybercrimes are happening all the time and people don’t even realize that.
3. Type 1 Cybercrime vs. Type 2 Cybercrime
The computer or device may be the agent, facilitator, or the target of cybercrime. The crime also might take place on the computer alone, or in addition to other locations (Norton). It is easier to under the main idea of cybercrime whenever you break it up into two separate categories. It is also important to educate yourself so you are able to distinguish between these two separate types of cybercrime. The two categories that I am about to discuss are: Type 1 Cybercrime and Type 2 Cybercrime.
3.1 Type 1 Cybercrime
Type 1 cybercrime has several characteristics that distinguish itself from Type 2 cybercrime. Type 1 usually involves a single event from the victim’s perspective. This could happen if the victim downloaded a Trojan horse virus without knowing so (Norton). When the victim downloads the Trojan horse virus, a keystroke logger permits the hacker to easily steal information such as passwords and online banking information. Phishing is another form of a Type 1 Cybercrime. Hackers most frequently commit Type 1 cybercrime by taking advantage of web browsers weaknesses. After the hacker finds the flaw, the Trojan horse virus is placed onto the unprotected computer (Norton). Type 1 cybercrime also relates to any cybercrime dealing with theft or manipulation.
3.2 Type 2 Cybercrime
Type 2 Cybercrime differs from Type 1 because it covers more serious problems. This type of Cybercrime deals with issues such as: Cyberstalking and harassment, child predation, extortion, blackmail, stock market manipulation, complex corporate espionage, and planning or carrying out terrorist activities (Norton). Generally, Type 2 is an on-going series of events. This can include repeated interactions with the target (Norton). Also, more often than not, Type 2 cybercrime is facilitated by programs that do not fit under the classification crimeware. For example, conversations may happen when using instant messaging clients; or files may be transferred using FTP (Norton).
4. Most Frequently Committed Cybercrimes
In this section, I will be covering the types of cybercrimes that can be committed. I am only going to be covering a few of the crimes and not all of them. Cybercrime covers a wide range of attacks, that all have their own characteristics when it comes to involving cyber-related criminal activity.
Criminals committing cybercrime use different types of methods, depending on their skill-set and their goal (Norton). There are several different types of cybercrime that can take shape. A few examples of cybercrimes that are commonly committed are: Copyright infringement, child pornography, cyberstalking, ransomware, ATM fraud, and bullying. Some examples of a cybercriminal would be: Child predators, scammers, phishers and hackers.
4.1. Copyright infringement
The United States of America created enforceable rights know as intellectual property, which include copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets (Dept. of Justice). Copyright law allows for federal protection against the infringement of certain rights. These rights include reproducing and distributing “original works of authorship,” of items such as computer software, literary works, musical works, and motion pictures (Dept. of Justice). Owners are entitled to a civil resolution from the person whom infringed their copyrighted material.
Three main elements are required for infringement to happen. The first element is that the person holding the copyright must have a valid copyright. Second, whomever is supposedly infringing must have access to the material that is copyrighted. Lastly, the copyrighted work that was duplicated must be outside the allowances. Copyright infringement can bring about some serious troubles to your life.
The penalties for infringing on copyrighted material can be severe, and cost you a pretty penny. Purdue University lists the different legal penalties that can come from copyright infringement. The first they state says, the that the offender must pay the actual dollar amount in damages and profits to the victim. Purdue University then states the law provides a price range, starting at $200, and escalating up to $150,000 for each item that is infringed. The third legal penalty for copyright infringement has the infringer pay all attorney fees, and costs associated with the courts. Fourthly, the Court may issue an injunction in order bring the infringing acts to a halt. The fifth penalty that stems from copyright infringement allows the Court to impound the illegal works. Lastly, the sixth penalty to come out of copyright infringement allows the infringer to be incarcerated. (Purdue University)
4.2 Child pornography
Child pornography trafficking is noticeably expanding at a fast pace ever since the Internet has been created. Law enforcement is having a hard time keeping up with an approach to fight child pornography because offenders constantly find a new way to maneuver around the law in order to commit their crime (Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill). New technology, like smartphones, make it much easier for offenders to transfer and share child pornography over a wireless Internet.
New developments are allowing offenders to share and distribute child pornography such as peer-to-peer networking and cloud computing services. Peer-to-peer networking involves the linking of two or more computers so they can share digital files, containing audio or video (Knapp). Another development that brings problems is cloud computing. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “Cloud Computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (Knapp). Child pornography, to me, is one of most serious forms of cybercrime. I feel as if more effort needs to be placed on stopping the trafficking of child pornography.
People have tried arguing that child pornography should fall under the First Amendment rights, making them protected from law (Knapp). However, these people are unsuccessful as courts consistently convey the message that images of child pornography are not protected under the First Amendment right of free speech (Knapp). Offenders of child pornography-related crimes usually are required to register themselves as sex offenders. Upon registering as a sex offender, the person is required to register their name, address and all offenses that occurred prior to the most recent registration.
Cyberstalking, in a way, is an extension of traditional stalking and has become a serious problem in the cybercrime realm. Cyberstalking is defined as: the recurring pursuit of someone using Internet, or electronically capable devices (Koon-Magnin). Cyberstalking can create fear and paranoia in a person that can become very serious the person is in a constant state of fear, not knowing whenever the stalker might appear in their life again. The victim can also feel destabilized because the idea of his stalker being able to stalk him at any time on his cell phone creates fear and panic.
Although cyberstalking and traditional stalking are similar in several ways, cyber stalkers represent a completely new kind of criminal-like behavior. Research suggests that cyber stalkers are generally going to be your “white-collared” criminal who is a white, upper-class male who also has established employment and committed ties to their respected community (Pittaro). There is also research that suggests Cyber Stalkers have a criminal record, previous substance abuse, or a personality disorder that could contribute to anti-social like behavior. (Pittaro)
There are, however, a few tips that can help yourself prevent stalking from happening to you. The first tip is to keep alert over the physical access to your computer and other web-related devices. This is important because, cyber stalkers monitor their victims using software and hardware. The next anti-stalking tip would be to make sure that you log out of every computer program any time you are about to step away from your computer. Also, having a screensaver with a password is highly recommended (Merritt).
As the use of social media increases, the potential risks of Cyberstalking increase. Social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube may provide enough information for that person to be a victim. (WCSAP). Cyberstalking is difficult to combat because the stalker could be anywhere (Privacy Rights). He could be from your hometown, or he could live across the country and you wouldn’t know.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software that disables the computer from operating in some way. In order for Ransomware to work, the computer has to be infected with a virus. This happens most often when someone gets tricked into clicking on a link (Pham). An example would be receiving an email acting as a well-known organization, like UPS. The email will say that they tried to deliver a package, but no one answered the door. The delivery guy is still in the area though, so if you click the link he will try again within the next few hours. These Ransomware attacks can seem very real to certain individuals.
The Ransomware program will display a message demanding payment for computer functionality restoration (McDonald). Ransomware is an extortion racket because the malware is holding your computer ransom. This scam has evolved over time by using various techniques. The newest form of Ransomware today locks the computer display, and does not allow the user to access any program (McDonald). Next, the computer will display a message claiming to be a branch of local law enforcement. Ransomware that demanded money after locking a person’s screen was first seen in Russia/Russian speaking countries in 2009. Prior to that, Ransomware encrypted your files, then demanded a payment of some type for the decryption key (McDonald).
4.5 Cyber bullying
Cyber bullying is considered to be extended form of bullying in variations of written, and verbal bullying. Cyber bullying takes place electronically on line in forms of media such as cell-phones, websites, and chat rooms where a student can create an online profile and bully kids outside of school. Social networking sites are a popular place for cyber bullying to take place because interaction is so easily attainable over the Internet. By using cell-phones, students can partake in cyber bullying in the form of sexual photographs that get altered and sent out to a mass audience.
Preliminary research was conducted in Canada on teenage usage of the Internet, which came across as very interesting to me. During the research process, they were able to discover that 99% of the teenage population in Canada used the Internet on a regular basis. Of that 99%, one in every 17 children feels threated while using the Internet. Relating to that, one in four youths aged 11-19 is threatened on the computer or cell phone (University of Alabama). Even though cyber bullying starts anonymously online, its effects can carry over into the classroom for some students making it hard for them to learn. Sexual harassment towards adolescent girls, boys who appear homosexual, and gay/lesbian students can potentially increase the vulnerability of the individuals in these groups.
6. Tor and Cybercrime
Tor is a very controversial topic of the Internet. Tor, also called “The Deep Web”, distributes informational resources that are not reported by normal search engines on the World Wide Web. According to their website: Tor is a free, open network software that aids in protection against traffic analysis, some type of network surveillance threatening personal freedom and privacy, confidential business activities and relationships, and state security (Tor). Tor is a group of volunteer-operated servers, allowing people to improve security and privacy by connecting the network through a series of virtual tunnels, rather than making direct connection. By doing this, it allows the individual and the organization to communicate over public networks, while not risking their privacy (Tor). Tor prevents websites from tracing any evidence back to them and their family members. It also denies the tracking of the user when trying to connect to websites, chat rooms, or other Internet areas that are blocked by local Internet providers.
Even though Tor is a thriving software used by a mass amount of people, there are actions aiming to stop cybercrime happening on The Deep Web. These actions include the attempt to eliminate the sale, distribution, and promotion of illegal items sold on the Tor software. Some of the illegal items that are being sold on The Deep Web are weapons, drugs, passports, and child pornography. Operation Onymous, which was put in place by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s, and other Government oriented teams, arrested 17 vendors/administrators running marketplaces on The Deep Web while seizing approximately 1 million USD, converted to Bitcoins, drugs, gold, and silver
Cybercrime is a very serious issue dealing with a mass amount of people in the world, taking on different forms and affecting people in different ways that involve some kind of computer or cyber characteristic to it. Cybercrimes are happening all day long without people even realizing that it is happening to them. In today’s age, offenders are able to commit cybercrimes much easier than they were in the past. This is due to the advancement in technology and software in our society. Members of our society need to become more knowledgeable on the topic of cybercrime, and the negative impacts that it can bring into a person or person’s life.
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