This article provides readers with a brief overview of cyber-crime, a topic that has gripped the world of cybernetics, law enforcement agencies and Justice Departments of late in the wake of hacking of high profile websites across the globe.
A friend of mine once dubbed the internet as the '1st wonder of modern civilization' and its obvious he is not far from the truth.
The internet has come to stay and as manankind evolves through its evolutionary pathway, it is going to play a cruel role in all facets of human endeavor.
Currently the internet is mainly used for issues of commerce and communication.
In future, the healthcare sector is likely to take a larger share of internet activities as 'e-lab and e-diagnostics protocols' allow DIY screening of illnesses through portable communication gadgets such as the cell-phone or electronic tablets.
As the use of the internet becomes ubiquitous so would the probability of cyber-crime increase exponentially!
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of the topic, let's define cyber-crime.
Cyber-crime includes all crimes committed in any computer network infrastructures or environments.
Let's have a roller coaster ride through types, motives, culprits and victims of cyber-crime. How would you report issues relating to cyber-crime, where to report cyber-crime and how to prevent cyber-crime?
Types of cyber-crime
• Computer intrusion or Hacking, Password trafficking.
• Counterfeiting of currency.
• Child Exploitation and Internet Pornography.
• Internet fraud and spam mailing.
• Internet harassment.
• Internet bomb threats and terrorism.
• Trafficking in explosive or incendiary devices or firearms over the Internet.
• Pyramid schemes.
• Fake lotto and gambling sites.
• Fake immigration assistance sites.
• Fake foreign employment sites.
Phony online dating partners.
• Copyright piracy.
• Trademark Counterfeiting.
• Theft of Trade Secrets.
• Hacker-maniacs, Pranksters.
• Connection disruption by uploading and sending worms, viruses and botnets.
• Extortion and International Money Laundering, Identity Theft.
• Committing fraud on security funds, inside trading via the web.
• Unauthorized hacking into computers systems, selling counterfeit computer equipment.
• Uploading, running or hosting phony domain websites.
Phishing and identity theft.
• Online impersonation of individuals or business firms (identity theft)
• Computer programmer in unauthorized computer access.
• Creating and disseminating fake documents, selling counterfeit goods.
• Illegally access government computer or bringing it down.
• Domain name theft, illegal gambling offsets, sending international botnet to create massive breakdown of computer systems or paralyzing computer networks
• Copyright infringement, trafficking in counterfeit goods or human beings
• Selling counterfeit software.
• Using malicious advertisement to lure people into disclosing their personal information,
• illegal access, illegal interception, data interference, system interference, misuse of devices, computer-related forgery, computer-related fraud, offenses related to child pornography and offenses related to copyright and neighboring rights.
• Fraud on social networking sites relating with use of false identity.
Motives for cyber-crime
• Staff disgruntled due to low remuneration, infighting within rank and file of work force because of parochial interests.
• Identity thieves and cyber-stalkers trying to make some money.
• Hacking activists or advocacy groups having to score political points.
• Hacker-maniacs, pranksters, erring dilettante, malicious users sending viruses, worms or botnet to infect people's computer for the fun and adrenaline boost.
• Cybernetic expert wishing to cash in on vulnerable and lucrative computer networks.
• International cyber-spymasters engaged in espionage and cyber-wars.
• Troubleshooting cybernetic gurus or staff belonging to the Intelligence community.
• Renegade law enforcement staff wishing to cash in on a loophole or sabotage the database for capricious reasons.
• Pranksters and deranged individuals (hacker-maniacs) who love destabilizing any vulnerable computer network.
• Fraudsters who steal money from gullible individuals.
• Inquisitive and adventurous computer nerds wishing to try something new.
• Unemployed techno geek trying to make a living.
• Cyber-hoodlums hackers, fraudsters, cyber-bully, cyber-hypnotist, Internet pedophiles, cyber-dissidents, disseminators of racists and xenophobic substances, cyber-gangsters and homicide criminals, internet human organ racketers, internet dating sites scammers, unemployed youth and pranksters.
• Cybernetic insider, phishing group, cyber-extortionist, cyber-blackmailer, cyber-defamer, cyber-stalker and spammers.
• Spymasters, renegade computer experts.
• Unemployed people.
• Institutions with vulnerable computer networks.
• Lonely individuals who live reclusively.
• Internet dilettante.
• Individuals wishing to get involved in pyramid schemes.
• Public or Private firms that are engaged in eCommerce.
• Public or Private firms with a treasure trove of vital information.
• Governments running databanks with priceless sensitive information.
How to report cyber-crime
• Track, locate and identify culprits by doing a Whois.com search of the IP address
• Contact the Internet Service Provider for detailed information
• Contact your attorney, local sheriff or Police Department, Secret Service and Justice Department
• Contact cyber-detectives or Webmasters
Where to report cyber-crime
Depending on the type of cyber-crime committed, you can report the matter to any of the following agencies,
• The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
• The United States Secret Service
• The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
• The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
• The United States Postal Inspection Service
• The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF)
• Internet Crime Complaint Center
• The National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C)
• United States Department of Justice
• DMCA agents of various firms and institutions
• Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Coordination Center
• Attorney's of firms and institutions
• US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US CERT)
• Your individual government bureau or its appropriate law enforcement agencies and Justice Departments
How to prevent cyber-crime
Governments and citizens must be proactive in the quest to prevent the underworld from taking over the internet to create the same chaos and anarchy they have wrecked on civilization in the real world. This could be achieved by implementing the following suggestions.
• Elucidate international strategies aimed at combating computer and intellectual property crimes worldwide.
• Create a name and shame cyber-crime map website, follow UK example.
• Monitor all ISP transmitting audio-visual messages via the web.
• Remunerate your staff well but snoop on them.
• Form an alliance with national or foreign competitors to share anti-cyber-crime information.
• Conventions and Agreements should have a global outreach and not limited by the parochial interest of a few affluent nations.
• Need for a global attempt at archiving all information of the internet by ISPs so that data could easily be traced. Such services rendered by the ISPs should be paid for by the secret service of the nation under which jurisdiction the activity took place or where the cloud computing workstation is located.
• Verify identity of internet users before they embark on any financial transaction.
• Harmonize the domestic criminal substantive law elements of offsets and related provisions in the area of cyber-crime
• Clarify code of conduct for internet users and write the penalty in the statute books without any form of ambiguity.
• Involve the United Nations on all internet Agreements and Conventions.
• Need for international co-operation pursue a common criminal policy aimed at the protection of society against cyber-crime, especially by adopting appropriate legislation and fostering international cooperation? No country can cure cyber-crime alone.
• Need to train more cyber-detectives
• Need to sensitize the public about the dangers of not reporting or conniving with cyber-criminals
Internet-related crimes, like any other crime, should be reported to appropriate law enforcement and investigative authorities at the local, state, federal, or international levels, depending on the scope and authenticity of the crime. Citizens who are aware of federal crimes should be compelled to report them to local offices of federal law enforcement agencies.
It has been rightly observed that crimes committed over the Internet pose special challenges for law enforcement. Here, there is a great need for large number of specially trained cyber-detectives and criminologists.
There is also a need to design new and fair rule of engagement for everyone; otherwise the World Wide Web might be in for a futuristic mutually assured destruction apocalypse.
We should all ensure that there is freedom on the internet in line with all democratic principals. However, we should clamor for the setting up of internet crime prevention and busting organizations to curb the activities of the few miscreants that are sabotaging the World Wide Web rather than advocating censorship.
Massive hacking of high profile website typically create furor in the media and congress. But is censorship necessary in order to curb the scams, thefts, frauds, pranks and cyber attack incidences on the internet?
Should governments censor or democratize the internet?
In conclusion, it would be disingenuous for any cybernetic expert to claim that cyber-crime has no border or the culprits are anonymous. Cyber-crime differs from real time crime because all electronic activities can be traced easily if they are decentralized, controlled, verified, monitored and archived when any internet transaction occurs. If all countries are persuaded to ratify IP Agreements and Conventions, all activities would be traceable.
Then, cyber-crime prevention and busting tactics would be workable.
I hope the Internet policy moderators and formulators are listening.