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Emerging Patterns of Cyber Crimes

Updated: March 13, 2010 12:07 pm

With new mediums of communication, business and societal activities, growth of newer and varied kinds of crime is inevitable. Computers with the aid of internet have today become the most dominant medium of communication, information, commerce and entertainment. The internet is at once several shopping malls, libraries, universities, news papers, television, movie theatre, post office, courier service and an extension of government and business. It is like life in real world being extended and carried on in another medium that cuts across boundaries, space, time, nationality, citizenship, jurisdiction, sex, sexual orientation and age. The internet with all benefits of anonymity, reliability, and convenience has become an appropriate breeding place for person interested in making use of the net for illegal purposes, either monetary or otherwise.

            Since, anything related to the internet was being prefixed with the word ‘cyber’, the most appropriate to reflect the new criminal phenomenon was “cyber-crimes”. Defined broadly, the term ‘cyber crime’ could reasonably include a wide variety of criminal offences and unlawful activities related to or having any connection to internet.

            There is another way in which crime on the internet can be looked into. The internet is the network of computers that communicate with each other. Information generated within a computer and available to be shared with other computers connected to a network is what the internet is about. Some computers provide information, some seek information, and some provide the mechanism for smooth exchanges and some route the flow of information. Thus criminal conduct within this definition of internet can arise whenever there is -:

  1. a) A conduct in a manner so as to adversely affect the computer (Hacking, Cracking, Illegal Downloading of information stored on a computer, Virus or Worm attack etc.)
  2. b) Conduct so as to affect a person may be an industry, government or a private individual (eg. Child Pornography, Spamming, Defamation, Threats, Posting a Copyright Material etc.)

Cyber crime is a different story: computers and the internet have created a phenomenal possibility for addressing a variety of human problems, but these technologies also have a dark side. What differentiate the criminals threats posed by the internet is that it is based on a vastly

more complex technology than the automobile. It spans the globe and moves information and potential criminal activity with a speed and efficiency heretofore unknown in human history. Not only does this give the police less time to react to any potential criminal threat, but it raises issues of jurisdiction, privacy and anonymity.

            Cyber crime’s ability to morph into new and different forms of antisocial activity evading the reach of existing penal law creates challenges for law enforcement around the world. Cyber criminals exploit gaps in the criminal laws of other countries to victimise the citizen of those and other nations. Cyber crime presents the nations of the world with a problem they have never before had to address, i.e., the permeability of national borders. Technology gives the ability to loot and inflict harm upon the entire world with little risk of apprehension and allows for experimenting with new varieties of criminal behaviours.

            The terms “cyber crime”, “computer crime”, “information technology crime”, and “high tech crime”, are often used inter changeably to refer to two major categories of offences: in the first, the computer is the target of the offence; attacks on network confidentiality, integrity and or availability i.e. unauthorised access to and illicit tampering with systems, programs or data all fall into this category; the other category consists of traditional offences such as theft, fraud, and forgery that are committed with the assistance of or by means of computers, computer networks and related information and communication technology.

            Cyber crimes range from economic offences (fraud, theft, industrial espionage, sabotage and extortion, product piracy etc.) to infringements on privacy, propagation of illegal and harmful content, facilitation of prostitution and other moral offences, and organised crime. At it most severe, cyber crime borders on terrorism, encompassing attacks against human life and against national security establishments, critical infrastructures and other vital veins of society.

            Cyber crimes are complex and sometimes elusive phenomena; there is no comprehensive, globally accepted definition that separates the sensational from the sensible and scientific. The following scenario illustrates the range of activities that can be considered cyber crimes.

Patterns of Cyber Crime/ offences

The Cyber Crime enlisted has been classified under the following categories:-

  1. I) Conventional crime through computer: Cyber defamation, digital forgery, Cyber pornography, cyber stalking/ harassment, internet fraud, financial crime, online gambling, and sale of illegal articles.
  2. II) Crimes Committed on a Computer network: Hacking/ unauthorised access, denial of services.

III)      Crimes related to data alteration/ Destruction: Virus/ Worms/ Trojan horses/ logic bomb, theft of internet hours, data diddling, salami attacks, stegaronography.

  1. IV) Crimes relating to E-mail: Spamming/ bombing, spoofing.

Giving birth to new technologies is the work of the inventors. Making use of those technologies for more advanced and drastic crimes is the craftwork of the criminal. Controlling such crimes is the result of the interplay of the functions of legislature, executive and judiciary. It is a circle. The society grinds in between this circle with different emotions and reactions. However, the time frame between each activity is enormous. In between these time frames, the wrong doer is able to gain the maximum. However, as the wheels of justice become operational with proper oiling of law and evidence, such operational activities are forced to reduce. Though, on a cautious note, they never tend to cease.

            The ones who commit these types of crime are generally in the age group of 18-30, because they are more known to the computer. Today pornography, prone sites, MMS videos, fake profiles are highly in the news and these crimes are committed just for seeking pleasure, or taking revenge and sometimes monetary benefit is also there. Today thousands of fake profiles and obscene photographs of the females can be seen on the networking sites, where lacs of people visit these profiles daily.

            To curb these cyber crimes, one is required to understand them in the perspective of technological advancements and the ease which they can be committed. The old adage of “an eye for an eye” would be equally applicable to reduce these crimes. It should be “technology for technology”. If one is committing a crime using technology, one will be blocked to do so by employing technology. Law merely supplant but cannot supplement the effort of deterring a cyber criminal.

By Megha Chauhan

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