Cyber Crime

Cyber Crime

Cyber crimes can be defined as the unlawful acts where the computer is used either as a tool or a target or both.  The term is a general term that covers crimes like phishing, credit card frauds, bank robbery, illegal downloading, industrial espionage, child pornography, kidnapping children via chat rooms, scams, cyber terrorism, creation and/or distribution of viruses, Spam and so on. [1] Cyber crime is a broad term that is used to define criminal activity in which computers or computer networks are a tool, a target, or a place of criminal activity and include everything from electronic cracking to denial of service attacks. It also covers the traditional crimes in which computers or networks are used to enable the illicit activity.[2]

Cyber crime can be committed in two ways – one in which the computer is the target of a cyber attack, and the other in which the computer is used to commit a cyber crime against any person or entity. [3]

Cyber crimes in India are categorised into main four types which include: [4]

  • Cyber crime against a person:This type of cyber crime is committed against a person using an electronic domain as a medium. Cyber crime against a person includes:
    • Cyber stalking
    • Hacking
    • Cracking
    • Defamation
    • Online Fraud
    • Dissemination of Obscene Material
    • Child Pornography
    • Spoofing
    • Phishing
  • Cyber Crime against property:Cyber crime against property is committed using an electronic device as a medium. Here, the property does not mean any immovable property but includes movable and intangible property like computers, Intellectual Property, etc. Different cyber crimes against property are:
    • Transmitting virus
    • Cybersquatting
    • Cyber vandalism
    • Cyber property crimes
  • Cyber crime against Government:The government of a country may become the target of a cyber crime as well. Any cyber crime committed against a government is committed to threatening the unity, honour, and security of the target country. Cyber crime against government includes:
    • Cyber warfare
    • Cyber terrorism
  • Cyber crime against society: When a cyber crime is committed against numerous individuals, it is known as cyber crime against society. Cyber crime against society includes:
    • Online gambling
    • Cyber trafficking

In order to curb the menace caused by the cybercriminals, the government has enacted the Information Technology Act, 2000 whose prime objective is to create an enabling environment for effective use of the internet along with reporting cyber crime in India. The IT Act is a comprehensive law that deals with technology with respect to e-governance, e-commerce, and e-banking. The cyber law also lays down the penalties and cyber crime punishment in India. [5]

The Indian Penal Code was also amended to include crimes like fraud, forgery, theft, etc. committed over the internet or through an electronic medium. [6]

Stopping cybercrime is the responsibility of the government or the bodies dedicated to the same but you can also take some steps to stop cybercrime affecting you. [7] These steps include:

  • Education – Hackers aren’t the only ones who can gain power from information. By educating yourself about the types of scams that exist on the Internet and how to avert them, you are putting yourself one step ahead of the cybercriminals. [8]
  • Activate your firewall – Firewalls are the first line of cyber defence; they block connections to unknown or bogus sites and will keep out some types of viruses and hackers. [9]
  • Use anti-virus/malware software – Prevent viruses from infecting your computer by installing and regularly updating anti-virus software. [10]
  • Secure your wireless network – Hackers can access data while it’s in transit on an unsecured wireless network. You can keep the hackers out by enabling the firewall on your router and changing the router’s administrator password. Cybercriminals often know the default passwords and they can use them to hack into your network. [11]
  • Click with caution – When you’re checking your email or chatting over instant messenger (IM), be careful not to click on any links in messages from people you don’t know. The link could take you to a fake website that asks for your private information, such as user names and passwords, or it could download malware onto your computer. Even if the message is from someone you know, be cautious. Some viruses replicate and spread through email, so look for information that indicates that the message is legitimate. [12]