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Cybercrime refers to criminal acts that target or use computers as a criminal instrument, or transmit illegal information using computers. Cybercrime targets or uses computers. Hackers gain access to computers to damage databases or software by introducing viruses or ”denial of service” attacks (i.e., viruses or worms that multiply computer transactions to the extent entire systems slow significantly or shut down).
One objective of cybercrimes is to destroy or interrupt the flow of computerized services. Another includes break-ins to protected computers or networks to steal data or services. Cybercrimes include theft, sale or counterfeiting of debit/credit card numbers from protected databases, child pornography, unauthorized computer access, identity theft, cyberstalking, and larceny of intellectual property. Child pornography is a major globalized cybercrime using computer networks, email, and encryption techniques. Cyberstalking is use of electronic communications to transmit threats of violence. Cyberterrorism describes criminal acts involving interference with public computer networks and automated operations of critical infrastructure.
Cybercrime involves three elements of crime: actus reus, mens rea, and concurrence. Actus reus involves illegal entrance into computer systems and actions taken in pursuit of electronic properties. The mens rea of cybercrime involves motivations including power, greed, dominance, revenge, or satisfaction of prurient interest. Concurrence of the criminal act and motive is more complicated because cybercrimes might not be detected for lengthy periods.
Many cybercrimes are perpetrated by small groups that affect the electronic property of many persons or organizations in different global locales. For any single victim, costs ofcybercrimes are often too low to report, but total costs for all victims are high. Because computer networks are globalized, cybercrimes raise questions about jurisdictional authority. Effective cybercrime law enforcement requires interjurisdictional task forces to conduct investigations in different countries across different time zones. Many local police agencies now employ cybercrime units.
- Wall, D. S. (2005) The Internet as a conduit for criminal activity. In: Pattavina, A. (ed.), Information Technology and the Criminal Justice System. Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.