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Why is Cybercrime Law Important?

Why is Cybercrime Law Important?

Computers, medicine, and science aren’t the only things that improve over time with technology. Crime also has to grow with the boom of knowledge to continue serving nefarious purposes for greater rewards. I remember the birth of the public internet and the screeches of connecting to the vast space of knowledge at our very fingertips, but criminals all over the world were also logging on and laying the foundation for larger and more profitable operations. When do we reach a point where laws need to extend beyond borders? Let’s take a look and see why cybercrime law is important.

Cybercrime law is important simply due to the outreach organizations or individuals have that go far beyond their local jurisdictions. Without having cybercrime laws in place, these people will go unchecked for crimes they’re committing.

Cyberspace allows anonymity and the bypassing of local laws. By implementing a basic code of conduct that spans the entirety of the internet, law enforcement can find, apprehend, and charge offenders. 

With the internet being a literal world of knowledge without needing to leave our homes, we’re all connected to it in some way whether it’s looking up reviews of a new restaurant in town or discovering distant locations one can only dream about.

We’re not alone in accessing the internet and all it has to offer because criminals have leverage within the borderless system of networks to capitalize on anonymity and reach.

To ensure the safety of ourselves, information, money, and families, cybercrime law is vital to upholding the protection of every individual, business, and government that can fall victim to these crimes.

What is Cybercrime?

Cybercrime, or computer-oriented crime, is any criminal activity that is conducted through a networked device such as a computer or cellular phone. The majority of cybercrimes committed are for monetary gain, but there are also crimes stemming from political, religious, and personal beliefs.

Why Should a Cybercrime Law be Specific?

Much like local crime, laws should be specific in cybercrime as there are various types and degrees of activity. Without specifications to cyber law, a young adult hacking into their college system to change their grade would be persecuted to the same degree as one who hacked into a banking system to steal millions of dollars. A system needs to be in place to better delegate the crime committed and at what level of endangerment it is to the targeted entity.

The variations of cybercrime have been broken down into three categories by the United State Department of Justice (DOJ); the computer is an accessory to a crime, the computer is used as a weapon, and crimes where another networked system is the target. Unfortunately these aren’t as clear-cut as they may seem to be, which is a valid reason cybercrime laws should be specific.

Crimes against People

This specific category targets actual people, but it’s accomplished through networked devices. However, there are instances where cybercrimes push beyond the internet and into our homes, businesses, and schools.

Cyberstalking

When the use of any electronic device with access to internet network is used to harass an individual, group, or organization. Cyberstalking usually involves overwhelming number of text messages or emails sent to another party, threats, slander, false accusations, or defamation of character. It may also include such things as monitoring the victims outgoing messages or emails, watching what websites a victim may be visiting or using, or blackmail. Cyberstalking is with the intent to embarass, control, or bring fear to their desired target. Although cyberstalking occurs online, it’s incredibly dangerous as it may overflow into situations outside of the internet.

Online Predators 

With the invention of social media and unlimited access to people around the world, it comes as no surprise for online predators to punctuate on those points. No longer are the days when stalking school grounds or popular local teen hangouts for their victims are commonplace, the ease in which they can invade homes has unfortunately caused child predators to go on the rise. A majority of online predators groom minor children via chat rooms with the purpose of child pornography.

Identity Theft

At its core, identity theft is when someone steals sensitive personal information such as Social Security number, savings and checking banking information, and/or credit cards. The perpetrator then acts as the person whose identity they stole by using their name and stolen information to purchase things online or get money. This crime can have a long-term impact on the victim as it may take away from monthly expenditures or damaging their credit score.

Human Trafficking

This can go hand-in-hand with online predators, but human trafficking has a wide scope in ages of victims which can also include minors. Oftentimes predators will search popular social media sites in search of victims, and findings have shown that the majority of those victimized are linked to substance abuse, runaway activity, or an unstable home life.

Technology is also used to keep victims stuck in trafficking as devices can be used to track location, and with psychological manipulation involving blackmail, coercion, and humiliation, it makes getting out of human trafficking that much more dificult.

Financial Fraud

Much like identity theft, sensitive personal information is used for monetary gain. However, criminals will use scam techniques through email or robocalls to get personal information from their victims or pretend to be someone the victim knows in an attempt to get money.

Revenge Porn

When sexually explicit imagery through pictures or videos is exchanged with a person of trust, they’re expected to stay with the recipient. There are times when an ex-lover or friend becomes angry or feels negatively about the sender and uploads the picture/video to the internet in order to humiliate, blackmail, or shame the victim.

Crimes against Property

Online crimes against computers or a targeted server through any networked device.

Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) Attacks

As a gamer, DDoS attacks are nothing new to me as it’s usually people “having fun” by disrupting servers and preventing others from logging on to play. However, there are DDoS attacks that are done maliciously to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, network, or service.

Most DDoS attacks are accomplished by the utilization of numerous compromised computer systems which are then used to barrage a particular service, server, or network with logins or views. Since each individual target can only carry so much internet traffic, the overwhelming incoming can cause targets to either slow down or completely crash.

Cybervandalism

Cybervandalism can be broken down further into smaller parts, but overall it is defined as damage or destruction carried out via digital means such as defacing a website or disabling vital sections within website coding such as payment for online shops.

Transmission of Harmful Programs

Most commonly known as malware, it is a virus, spyware, or ransomware designed to infect a computer with the intent to weaken or destroy safety measures such as firewalls. Criminals are then able to access anything on the device, including sensitive information.

Crimes against Government

Also known as cyber terrorism, it is the least common of the three but also comes with the highest degree of punishment.

Hacking Into Government Systems

Forcefully making your way into any government domain is illegal, and the same goes for doing so digitally. Many criminals hack into government systems to either vandalize specific websites or attempt to illegally obtain confidential information.

Cyberwarfare

Attacking a nation via digital means. DDoS attacks or any other disruption of online government services is considered a threat.

Who Enforces Cybercrime Laws?

This is where it gets tricky due to the geographical issues heavily associated with cybercrimes. In the United States of America, if a person within the country is caught committing a cybercrime, they can be charged by both the state they reside in as well as the federal government. Jurisdiction can also fall into where the crime was committed, where the location of the perpetrator, or the location of the victim. Depending on the criteria between geological location alongside degree of crime determines who is to enforce cybercrime laws.

Conclusion

Overall, cybercrime and a lot of it’s components is like walking a tightrope. There are many variables that go into laws pertaining to each country let alone individual states, but as the reach of modern technology expands, it’s important for cybercrime law to grow as well.

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