What is Cybercrime?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Cybercrimes are generally defined as any type of illegal activity that makes use of the Internet, a private or public network, or an in-house computer system. While many forms of cybercrime revolve around the appropriation of proprietary information for unauthorized use, other examples are focused more on an invasion of privacy. As a growing problem around the world, many countries are beginning to implement laws and other regulatory mechanisms in an attempt to minimize the incidence of cybercrime.

People who commit cybercrime may ask for payment in order to prevent the release of defamatory data.
People who commit cybercrime may ask for payment in order to prevent the release of defamatory data.

Sometimes referred to as electronic crime, one of the most prolific examples involves utilizing a computer connection and specially developed software in order to steal identities, credit card numbers, or other data that the criminal can use to his or her advantage. Using illegally obtained data, the criminal can open accounts, charge a wide range of goods and services, and then abandon the accounts. This leaves the victim in the position of having to deal with huge debts that he or she did not generate.

Being the victim of a cybercrime can be incredibly frustrating.
Being the victim of a cybercrime can be incredibly frustrating.

Blackmail is a long-established illegal act that has been given a new twist in the modern age. The blackmailer may threaten to release embarrassing or other harmful information via the Internet or a private network if the victim does not comply with the demands of the criminal. A cybercrime of this type may go as far as having the victim transfer funds to an untraceable bank account using some type of online payment program, thus making full use of modern technology to commit the crime.

Cybercrime can also involve illegal access to company information. Just as with individuals, criminals can steal financial information and make purchases using the data. The criminal may also withdraw funds from company reserves, transferring the stolen funds through a variety of accounts and making it virtually impossible to locate the stolen assets. In other cases, it is not money or credit information the criminal seeks; obtaining proprietary client information and selling it to competitors is another example of this type of high tech criminal activity.

In many countries around the world, nations have passed cybercrime law packages that make the issuance of spam a criminal act. Spam is loosely defined as unsolicited emails that are simultaneously sent to thousands or even millions of email accounts. Some nations have enacted specific conditions that must apply in order for the spam to not be considered a cybercrime, such as providing a means for the recipient to opt out of receiving further email solicitations from the sender. As the problem grows, more politicians promote the idea of some sort of national or international cybercrime act that would specifically address the use of spam and either limit or eliminate the practice altogether.

Obtaining authoritative cybercrime statistics is not as easy as it would seem. As with many criminal acts, some incidents of electronic crime go unreported. This makes it hard to compile any type of cybercrime report that tells the whole story for a given period of time. However, many law enforcement agencies around the world cooperate in an effort to provide as complete a picture as possible. In the United States, FBI cybercrime documentation seeks to identify any and all examples of electronic crime, including actions that may involve terrorist activity as well as crimes such as fraud, identity theft, or embezzlement.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


This is useful information to put a stop to cyber crime.


BrickBack - I think that this would be a really interesting field to get into. I know there is a site called forensic focus.com that offers an online forum and various blogs and cybercrime articles on the field of cybercrime forensics.

Many colleges are now offering certificate programs as well as full fledge degrees. For example, Florida State College in Jacksonville offers a certificate program in cybercrimes forensics and the University of Central Florida in Orlando offers a certificate program as well as a Master’s of Science degree in Digital Forensics.


I think that the field of cybercrime law enforcement is an exciting field that will continue to grow. If you go to the cybercrime.gov site you can see the recently prosecuted cases involving all sorts of internet crimes.

It shows you the estimated monetary damages that resulted because of the crime as well as the fine and jail sentence.

Many computer crimes involve current or former employees, computer hackers, and those interested in identity theft.

These cybercrime cases are becoming more frequent and some threaten our national security. The American Bar Association has a downloadable book that lists all of the information with respect to international laws pertaining to combating cybercrime.

It is about $75 but well worth it if you putting together a computer cybercrime investigative department.

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