What are Computer Crimes?

In the last decade, there has been much talk about internet crimes with the increasing cases of hacks, leaks, and online information thefts. Computer crimes are inclusive of various types of criminal acts that take place using a computer system.

Computer crimes are criminal activities, which involve the use of information technology to gain an illegal or unauthorized access to a computer system with the intent of damaging, deleting, or altering computer data. Computer crimes also include activities such as electronic frauds, misuse of devices, identity theft, and data as well as system interference. These crimes may not necessarily involve damage to physical property. They rather include the manipulation of confidential data and critical information. They include activities like software theft, wherein the privacy of users is hampered. These criminal activities involve the breach of human and information privacy, as the theft and illegal alteration of system-critical information.

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The criminal or cyber crimes infringe on human and information privacy, steal, as well as, alter critical information illegally. The following are the types of cyber crimes that exist at the moment;


Hacking is one of the most well-known types of computer crime. In this context, the term refers to the unauthorized access of another’s computer system. These intrusions are often conducted in order to launch malicious programs known as viruses, worms, and Trojan Horses that can shut down or destroy an entire computer network. Hacking is also carried out as a way to take credit card numbers, internet passwords, and other personal information. By accessing commercial databases, hackers can steal these types of items from millions of internet users all at once.

2.Internet Piracy

Internet piracy is another common offense. Piracy involves the dissemination of copyrighted material without permission of the owner. Beginning in the early 1990s, music sharing websites became extremely popular, many of them operating in violation of the law. Movies, video games, e-books, and software are now pirated over the internet as well. Estimates by the entertainment industry put the annual cost of internet piracy in the billions of dollars, although there is evidence the scope of the economic impact has been overstated by the industry in an effort to persuade Congress to pass further regulations.

3.Cyber Terrorism

Cyber terrorism is a relatively new phenomenon. These crimes involve politically motivated attacks to targets such as government websites or commercial networks. Such attacks are designed to be large in scale, and to produce fear and panic among the victim population. With financial markets now trading over the internet and so many other transactions taking place online, the danger of cyber terrorism has received a great deal of attention. However, actual instances of this type of crime are rare.

4.Identity Theft and Other Frauds


The problem of identity theft existed before the development of the internet. Nevertheless, these crimes often involve the use of a computer, as offenders trick online shoppers and other web users into disclosing social security numbers, bank account and credit card information, home addresses, and more. A common scheme is known as “email phishing.” It is accomplished by sending victims an email containing a link to a website that the victims use regularly. The email asks victims to update their account information on the website, but when victims click on the link within the email, they are taken to a copycat website that secretly captures the information they enter.

5.Online Stalking, Bullying, and Sex Crimes

Some of the most serious computer crimes have nothing to do with making money, achieving political objectives, or showing off a hacker’s skills. Instead, they are designed to cause emotional trauma to the victim. Social media websites provide offenders with the ability to publish hurtful or embarrassing material as a way of inflicting harm on others. Once photographs or other items are posted and circulated online, they can be impossible for the victim to remove. The fallout from these kinds of activities is especially devastating for school age children, who tend to be more sensitive to social harassment.

Some sexual offenses are also committed using computers. The trafficking of child pornography is one example. Federal and state authorities prosecute these cases vigorously, with convicted offenders often being sentenced to decades of incarceration. Law enforcement also devotes substantial resources to catching online predators who attempt to solicit underage victims for purposes of sex. These criminals are often discovered frequenting internet chat rooms, where they pose as young people in order to lure minor victims into romantic encounters.

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Phishing is the act of attempting to acquire sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising as a trustworthy source. Phishing is carried out through emails or by luring the users to enter personal information through fake websites. Criminals often use websites that have a look and feel of some popular website, which makes the users feel safe to enter their details there.

7.Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are computer programs that can replicate themselves and harm the computer systems on a network without the knowledge of system users. Viruses spread to other computers through the network file system, the network, the internet, or by the means of removable devices like USB drives and CDs. Computer viruses are forms of malicious codes written with an aim to harm a computer system and destroy information. Writing computer viruses is a criminal activity as virus infections can crash computer systems, thereby destroying enormous amounts of critical data.

8.Cyber Stalking

The use of communication technology, mainly the Internet, to torture individuals is known as cyber stalking. False accusations, transmission of threats, and damage to data and equipment fall under the class of cyberstalking activities. Cyber stalkers often target the users using chat rooms, online forums, and social networking websites to gather user information and harass users on the basis of the information gathered. Obscene emails, abusive phone calls, and other such serious effects of cyber stalking have made it a type of computer crime.

Sourced from: http://www.buzzle.com/articles/types-of-computer-crimes.html