Victims of Cyber Crimes

Cyber crime happens to almost everyone who has an email id, who is a member of a social networking website or even who is doing online transaction to carry on business. But you never know how it is happening unless you become a victim. The impact of victimization may be such that you may need to either hide yourself from the real world or you may run from one police station to another to make them understand what has happened to you and how did it happen. India has a developing cyber law (the current IT Act is not a full-fledged law on cyber crimes). Many may not know the exact implications and usages of the cyber law to Internet crimes targeting individuals. Women especially feel “left nowhere” when they become victims of cyber stalking or harassment.

Cyber victim can be a victim of various crimes committed via Internet, email, or texting. Anything that takes place in cyber space, all our electronic or Internet means of communication can potentially produce cyber victims.

(1) Adolescents and teens

Cyberstalker or paedophile victims are almost always children and especially teenagers who are desperate for friendship. They try very hard, often too hard, to make online friends with whom to boost their ego. The result is that they are much more likely to become prey to those who wish to whet their sexual appetites and manipulate their victims to this end.

Very often, the term cyber victim now refers especially to young adolescents and teens, who fall prey to what are called cyber bullies, people who intentionally plan to hurt, embarrass, or abuse others by publishing either true or false information regarding them, in forums where that information will be seen by many people.

One simple way in which people can become cyber victims is through receiving insulting or inoffensive chat messages from anonymous people. In an Internet chat, a cyber bully may simply try to engage others by sending crude, rude or hurtful messages. They may deliberately send overtly sexual messages to children, type in numerous swear words, or if they have the person’s email address, start sending obscene pictures. A cyber victim of this type should not respond to the person sending the message, and people, in general, should never give out personal information, including email addresses to people they don’t know.

(2) Women

According to DEBARATI HALDER, Cyber crime is a global phenomenon. With the advent of technology, cyber crime and victimization of women are on the high and it poses as a major threat to the security of a person as a whole. Even though India is one of the very few countries to enact IT Act 2000 to combat cyber crimes, issues regarding women still remain untouched in this Act. The said Act has termed certain offences as hacking, publishing of obscene materials in the net, tampering the data as punishable offences. But the grave threat to the security of women in general is not covered fully by this Act.

Amongst the various cyber crimes committed against individuals and society at large the crimes which can be mentioned as specially targeting women are as-harassment via e-mails, cyber-stalking, cyber pornography, defamation, morphing and mail spoofing. In the United States, recent data suggest that stalkers terrorize approximately one million women each year. Although stalking is not  necessarily a gender-specific crime, seventy-five to eighty percent of stalking cases involve a male stalking a female.

(3) Greedy people

Many people are desperate for easy ways to make cash. Hence, they easily fall for emails that say things like “Get rich fast!” and follow the instructions in the emails which most others are likely to treat as junk. They are almost definitely being led to legal and financial entanglements out of which only the perpetrator will make profits. There are others who are attracted to advertisements related to improving one’s physical image. Ridiculous products such as “cheap, effective breast enlargements” etc. claim to boost their self-esteem at minimum cost. This explains why there are so many of such emails in circulation these days. These ads are almost certainly nothing more than means to extract credit card numbers and render the reader bankrupt.

(4) Companies

Companies are the main victims of cyber crimes. A survey that was carried out among companies in the USA showed that 85% of companies at least once incurred network attacks. In the report of the British Communication Systems Management Association researchers note that one third of firms and state institutions deal with hackers.

Economic effects of these crimes in cyberspace can hardly be predicted since computer crimes are very latent and registered offences make up only a little part of all crimes committed on the Internet. A number of studies conducted in Europe illustrate that only 33% of victims turn to police.

(5) Financial Services

According to PwC’s global economic crime survey, 45 per cent of financial services organisations have suffered fraud in the past 12 months, in comparison with 30 per cent of those in other industries. Also, cyber crime accounted for 38 per cent of economic crime, compared with 16 per cent of crime in other industries.

ANDREW CLARK, forensic services partner at PwC is of the view that, “The rise in cyber crime is not so surprising as the sector holds large volumes of the type of data cyber criminals are interested in, and there is an established underground economy servicing the needs of the market for stolen and compromised data”.


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