What is this Cyber crime? We read about it in newspapers very often. Let's look at the dictionary definition of Cybercrime: "It is a criminal activity committed on the internet. This is a broad term that describes everything from electronic cracking to denial of service attacks that cause electronic commerce sites to lose money". Mr. Pavan Duggal, who is the President of www.cyberlaws.net and consultant, in a report has clearly defined the various categories and types of cybercrimes. Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories:
1. Cybercrimes against persons.
2. Cybercrimes against property.
3. Cybercrimes against government.
a) Cybercrimes against persons
Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail. The trafficking, distribution, posting, and dissemination of obscene material including pornography and indecent exposure, constitutes one of the most important Cybercrimes known today. The potential harm of such a crime to humanity can hardly be amplified. This is one Cybercrime which threatens to undermine the growth of the younger generation as also leave irreparable scars and injury on the younger generation, if not controlled.
A minor girl in Ahmedabad was lured to a private place through cyberchat by a man, who, along with his friends, attempted to gangrape her. As some passersby heard her cry, she was rescued.
Another example wherein the damage was not done to a person but to the masses is the case of the Melissa virus. The Melissa virus first appeared on the internet in March of 1999. It spread rapidly throughout computer systems in the United States and Europe. It is estimated that the virus caused 80 million dollars in damages to computers worldwide.
In the United States alone, the virus made its way through 1.2 million computers in one-fifth of the country's largest businesses. David Smith pleaded guilty on Dec. 9, 1999 to state and federal charges associated with his creation of the Melissa virus. There are numerous examples of such computer viruses few of them being "Melissa" and "love bug".
Cyberharassment is a distinct Cybercrime. Various kinds of harassment can and do occur in cyberspace, or through the use of cyberspace. Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. Persons perpetuating such harassment are also guilty of cybercrimes. Cyberharassment as a crime also brings us to another related area of violation of privacy of citizens. Violation of privacy of online citizens is a Cybercrime of a grave nature. No one likes any other person invading the invaluable and extremely touchy area of his or her own privacy which the medium of internet grants to the citizen.
b) Cybercrimes against property
The second category of Cyber-crimes is that of Cybercrimes against all forms of property. These crimes include computer vandalism (destruction of others' property), transmission of harmful programmes.
A Mumbai-based upstart engineering company lost a say and much money in the business when the rival company, an industry major, stole the technical database from their computers with the help of a corporate cyberspy.
c) Cybercrimes against government
The third category of Cyber-crimes relate to Cybercrimes against Government. Cyberterrorism is one distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of internet has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals and groups to threaten the international governments as also to terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual "cracks" into a government or military maintained website.
In a report of expressindia.com, it was said that internet was becoming a boon for the terrorist organisations. According to Mr. A.K. Gupta, Deputy Director (Co-ordination), CBI, terrorist outfits are increasingly using internet to communicate and move funds. "Lashker-e-Toiba is collecting contributions online from its sympathisers all over the world. During the investigation of the Red Fort shootout in Dec. 2000, the accused Ashfaq Ahmed of this terrorist group revealed that the militants are making extensive use of the internet to communicate with the operatives and the sympathisers and also using the medium for intra-bank transfer of funds".
Cracking is amongst the gravest Cyber-crimes known till date. It is a dreadful feeling to know that a stranger has broken into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent and has tampered with precious confidential data and information.
Coupled with this the actuality is that no computer system in the world is cracking proof. It is unanimously agreed that any and every system in the world can be cracked. The recent denial of service attacks seen over the popular commercial sites like E-bay, Yahoo, Amazon and others are a new category of Cyber-crimes which are slowly emerging as being extremely dangerous.
"Any criminal activity that uses a computer either as an instrumentality, target or a means for perpetuating further crimes comes within the ambit of cyber crime."
- Pavan Duggal,Supreme Court advocate and cyber law expert