Nature and Scope of Cyber Crime

The Cyber Crime is now no more limited to few sporadic incidents of unauthorized access to a particular  computer or a particular cyberspace with a view to damaging its data or sabotaging the system which few years were called the Computer Espionage. The cyber crime has spread to such proportion that a formal categorization of this crime is no more possible. Every single day gives birth to a new kind of cyber crime making every single effort to stop it almost a futile exercise. 

Regular stories featured in the media on computer crime include topics covering hacking to viruses, web-jackers, to internet pedophiles, sometimes accurately portraying events, sometimes misconceiving the role of technology in such activities. Increase in cyber crime rate has been documented in the news media. Both the increase in the incidence of criminal activity and the possible emergence of new varieties of criminal activity pose challenges for legal systems, as well as for law enforcement. 

Computer crime is ever increasing

Talking about the nature or     a potential extent of the problem, U.S. Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder says, “How big is the computer and high-tech crime problem? We simply don’t know. We do know that computer crime costs industry and society billions of dollars every year. There is substantial evidence that computer crime is increasing in scope and in complexity. And we know that, left unchallenged, computer crime will stifle the expansion of electronic commerce and, potentially, pose a serious threat to public health and safety, particularly when we look at the vulnerability of critical infrastructures, such as the air traffic control system, the power grid, and national defence systems-all of which are totally dependent on computer networks”.

Increasing opportunities on internet

Criminals have discovered that the Internet can provide new opportunities and multiplier benefits for illicit business. The dark side of the Internet involves not only fraud and theft, pervasive pornography and pedophile rings, but also drug trafficking and criminal organizations that are more concerned about exploitation than the kind of disruption that is the focus of the intruder community. In the virtual world, as in the real world, most criminal activities are initiated by individuals or small groups and can best be understood as disorganized crime. Yet there is growing evidence that organized crime groups or mafias are exploiting the new opportunities offered by the Internet. [Phil Williams, CERT Coordination Center]

Increasing number of victims

According to the latest Consumer Reports National Research Center “State of the Net” survey,- one in five online consumers have been victims of cybercrime in the last two years to the tune of an estimated $ 8 billion dollars. The overall rate of the crime has remained consistent over the five years says Consumer Reports. Report also notes that the problem stands to get worse as rising unemployment and foreclosures fuel a wave of recession-orientated Internet scams, and as the popularity of social networking services grow, creating ore openings for identity thieves.

Internet, ideal hotbed of cyber crimes

Of late, we are experiencing more and more of cyber crimes, since many of us have switched over to the fourth mode of communication i.e. Internet from the previous modes viz. gestures, speech and writing. The internet has opened up avenues of commerce. trade and communication like never before. It is the network that deals in billions of transactions each day. These transactions are usually transactions of money, pictures. information and videos. The magnitude of transactions – the sheer volume makes internet not just an easy tool for information exchange, but also an ideal hotbed of crimes.

Anonymous identity

Internet provides anonymity and safety. Unlike other forms of crimes wherein the person undertakes considerable risk, cyber crime provides the criminal with a cover. He leaves no physical foot-prints, finger-prints or other tangible traces making it extremely difficult to track cyber criminals down. Cyber crime being technology driven evolves continuously and ingeniously making it difficult for investigators to cope up with changes. Criminals are always one step ahead in the sense that they create technology or come up with technique to perpetrate a particular crime and the law enforcers then counter such techniques or technologies.

Complex investigation

The investigation of cyber crimes is complex. The evidence is often in an intangible form. Its collection, appreciation, analysis and preservation present unique challenges to the investigator. The increased use of networks and the growth of the Internet have added to this complexity. Using the Internet, it is possible for a person sitting in India to steal a computer resource in London using a computer situated in Canada as a launch pad for his attack. Distributed attacks are also not unheard of. The challenges in such cases are not only technological, but also jurisdictional.

Jurisdictional issues

Jurisdictional issues are the biggest hurdles in any cyber crime investigations. In the cyber terrorism cases, this problem assumes a new dimension since terrorists easily get a safe harbour in another country to launch their attacks in cyberspace. Hence, even after tracing the origin of a terrorist attack to a particular IP address, it may be impossible to investigate further and bring the culprits to book.


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