The increasing use of technology has greatly impacted the way people communicate. The internet, for instance, connects millions of people from different parts of the world quickly and relatively cheaply. However, a lot of people use technology in negative ways. Indeed, over the last few decades, cybercrimes targeting corporations, government departments, as well as individual citizens have increased at an alarming rate. The common cybercriminal activities include pharming, phishing, hacking of government databases and malware distribution (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). Recent estimates indicate that there are more than 150, 000 malicious codes and viruses in global circulation and that over 140,000 computers are comprised on daily basis (Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 2018). Cyber threats are real crimes, and thus, combatting cybercrimes should interest all individuals involved in criminal justice law.
Causes of Cybercrimes
Cybercrimes are attributable to a number of factors. Criminals opt for easy ways of enriching themselves by targeting organizations such as casinos, banks, and financial corporations where transactions of a huge amount of money are done on daily basis. Noteworthy, computers that are connected to a network are vulnerable to hacking and thus specialized malicious code developers are able to carry out automated attacks. There are several reasons why computers are vulnerable to attacks.
Firstly, hackers find it easy to access key tools that are used to login to the computers. Apparently, the greatest challenge behind safeguarding computer systems from unauthorized access is the possibility of breaching due to the recent advancement in technology (Bossler & Holt, 2015). Computer hackers can easily access retina images, codes, and voice recorders that can bypass biometric systems and firewalls.
The other reason why computers are easily vulnerable is negligence among users. Irrefutably, negligence is an inherent character in human beings. Some people have a tendency of leaving their computers without login out. When cybercriminals access such computers, they steal data that they use to perpetuate their criminal activities (Bossler & Holt, 2015). All in all, many cybercrimes have surfaced due to negligence when protecting computer systems since criminals have easy access.
In addition, data that is used in forensic cases can easily get destroyed. The loss of evidence has become a very common problem in many corporations so as to paralyze the cybercrime investigation process. Moreover, computers use very complexly operating systems that are developed through the use of codes. At times, humans make errors during the coding process. Many of the malware programmers take advantage of these loopholes.
Common Types of Cybercrimes
Cybercrimes take many forms. The most common types are; phishing, child pornography, cyber terrorism, and malicious software.
Phishing is a common type of cybercrime and involves scammers tricking someone to give out their personal information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, username, and bank account numbers. In most cases, they contact people through emails, social media accounts, phone calls, or text messages whilst pretending to be legit entities such as bank customer care agents (Bandakkanavar, 2018). The scammers request someone to update them on their details in order to feed them in their systems. At times, they request people to feel a survey form in order to win a prize. In this way, they are able to access someone's personal information.
The other common form of cybercrime is child pornography. Cybercriminals entice the minors in the chat rooms to indulge in child pornography. Cybersecurity departments are spending millions of dollars to combat child pornography (Bandakkanavar, 2018). They monitor chatrooms that are mostly frequented by the minors with an aim of preventing child abuse.
Cyberterrorism, often referred to as information wars, involves any deliberate large-scale attacks aimed at disrupting computer networks via the use of malware codes and viruses (Bandakkanavar, 2018). Cybercriminals may target corporations, governments, and individual citizens. The goal is to create a feeling of trepidation and fear in the minds of computer users. Thus, keeping this mind, it easy to differentiate between attacks aimed for egotistical or financial gains. Overall, cyber terrorist's activities aim at causing massive destruction to important data.
Malware software is a program that is written with an aim of causing harm to electronic devices and data. The word malware is a general term that is used to refer to all type of viruses including spyware and Trojan (Bandakkanavar, 2018). These programs are used to disrupt the network. The viruses get into the computer to cause damage in mobile phones, computers, and tablets so that the culprits can steal sensitive information such as credit card details.
Lastly, there is cyberstalking. It is a kind of online harassment whereby individuals are subjected to a cluster of online emails and messages. Surprisingly, the victims are well known to the stalkers and instead of stalking them offline, they result in the use of the internet. It is important to point out that this form of cybercrime is nowadays most common in social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Impacts of Cybercrimes
Cybercrimes have far-reaching impacts on the economy, individuals, and corporations. According to a 2015 report from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), over $600 billion are lost each year due to cybercrime-related activities. The amount lost is almost equivalent to 1 percent of the global GDP (Centre for Strategic and International Studies, 2018). Some of the countries that suffer from online frauds include; the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia. In the UK, for instance, reports more than 5.5 million cybercrimes every year. Government's statistics further indicate that in 2016, almost close to half of the businesses suffered from the data breach, with close to $26,700 million getting lost.
Moreover, findings of a study conducted by the Norton Cyber Security Firm reveal that three out of ten people cannot detect a phishing attack activity. Eighty-six percent of the respondents indicated that they have experienced phishing activities. The majority of the participants who reported to have been victims of phishing mentioned that they had experienced negative consequences including money stolen from their bank accounts and identity theft (Us.norton.com. 2018). Although most of the cybercriminals go unnoticed, some of them have ended up being held in custody.
Potential Solutions to Combat Cybercrime
There are several potential measures that can be adopted in order to combat this problem. First is through the use of strong passwords. Use different combinations for username and password. The password should contain alpha-numeric characters. Some should be in uppercase while others on the lower case. The second technique is to ensure that all social media profiles are always kept private (Brenner & Clarke, 2009). People should be careful about the information that they post. Thirdly, is to secure mobile and computer devices. The electronic gadgets are easily vulnerable to hackers and viruses. Thus, it is important to download information from only trusted sources (Brenner & Clarke, 2009). Also, the devices should always be up-to-date. Important files and folders should always be protected through encryption. The other strategy is to protect someone's identity online. You should be cautious when giving out personal information such as mobile phone number, address, financial position, and credit card numbers over the internet. Lastly, the other technique is to install security software on the computer. This mostly involves the installation of firewalls and antivirus.
All in all, in my own view, the best strategy that should be leveraged to combat cybercrimes is the installation of security software programs. The software can easily be used to detect malware codes such as viruses. Moreover, some applications such as firewall filter the network. It prevents unauthorized users from accessing a private network. It also helps in blocking messages that are believed to contain unwanted content. Although a firewall and use of antivirus programs is pivotal in curbing cybercrimes, it is important to mention that all other mentioned techniques should also be implemented in order to ensure computer and mobile phone security.
Akhgar, B., & Brewster, B. (2016). Combatting cybercrime and cyberterrorism: challenges, trends, and priorities. Springer.Bandakkanavar, R. (2018). Causes of CyberCrime and Preventive Measures - Krazytech. Retrieved from https://krazytech.com/technical-papers/cyber-crime
Bossler, A., & Holt, T. J. (2015). Cybercrime in progress: Theory and prevention of technology-enabled offenses. Routledge.
Brenner, S. W., & Clarke, L. L. (2009). Combatting cybercrime through distributed security. International Journal of Intercultural Information Management, 1(3), 259-274.
Centre for Strategic and International Studies. (2018). Economic Impact of Cybercrime. Retrieved from https://www.csis.org/analysis/economic-impact-cybercrimeus.norton.com. 2018.
The Personal Impact of Cybercrime. Retrieved from https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-emerging-threats-personal-impact-cybercrime.html
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