Computer crimes are on the rise, and cause financial and personal damage to the victims they affect. The easy accessibility of computers and the anonymous nature of the Internet have created new ways to perform illegal actions. Security measures are always being created to help prevent problems from occurring, but knowledge is the key to prevent us from becoming a victim.
1. Computer fraud happens when a victim is conned into believing that he will receive money or something else of value. There are common types of this crime currently in practice. “Phishing” scams involve creating fake emails while pretending to be a legitimate business like a bank or credit company that ask the victim to confirm personal information. Some other types include phony emails about a bogus inheritance, jobs overseas handling money transactions (for a large salary) and illegitimate loan approvals.
2. Computer industrial espionage involves the stealing of trade secrets or spying on persons through technological means for bribery, blackmail or corporate/personal advantage.One notable variation of this crime is termed the “hack, pump and dump.” An account is created with an online brokerage company and multitudes of other accounts are hacked into and used to purchase particular stocks. When the stock’s value goes up, the stock is sold through the original online account. Other methods include using spyware software (such as a Trojan horse) to find out logins and passwords, electronic eavesdropping and use of computerized surveillance to obtain company secrets.
3. A computer virus transmitter is someone who creates a malicious virus to infect computers from functioning properly, run annoying programs and/or gain access to the victim’s personal data. This type of software is commonly known as “malware.” Persons can unknowingly download these programs through websites, emails and pop-up windows. Common types of malware are called adware, spyware and Trojan horses.
4. Software piracy is one of the most common computer crimes. Copying software for distribution or personal use is considered an illegal act. Programs that are not protected with encryption keys (installation ID number), malware protection or other types of anti-piracy methods are easy to copy. However, these tools are not 100 percent foolproof. It can never be assumed that someone cannot find away around these types of protections. Therefore, anti-piracy methods will constantly be fine-tuned and improved.
5. Knowingly selling, distributing or buying child pornography (under age 18) through the Internet is a crime. The Internet has also been used as a tool for child prostitution. Pedophiles have used chat rooms to lure minors into illegal sexual encounters. Prosecution of these crimes is difficult due to the anonymous nature of the Internet.