There’s an old adage which says prostitution is the oldest profession on earth, and there’s a pretty good chance that crime is the second oldest profession on earth. There are people on the earth that are willing to do harm to others in order to get ahead quicker in life. Whether it be simple theft of goods which has been around for thousands of years, or 21st century corporate espionage, it’s everywhere. In the late 1990’s when commerce became widespread over the internet, criminals moved from the streets to pathways of 1’s and 0’s. It’s called cyber crime, and it’s here to stay.
What is cyber crime? It’s a term which is used rather broadly to describe criminal activities in which computers or computer networks are used as a tool to commit criminal activity, a target of criminal activity, or a place in which criminal activity is committed. A few examples including illegally sharing files over peer to peer networks, breaking into computer networks for any reason, advance fee scams through email, child pornography which is displayed over the internet, and eBay fraud. It’s practically any crime where a computer or the internet was around.
There are a number of pieces of legislation in the United States which deal with cyber crime. The Computer Fraud and Abuse act has been around in 1986 which deals with fraud in connection with the use of technology. There’s the digital millennium copyright act which has to do with circumvention of copy protection, the Wire Fraud section of the US commercial code, and a few other pieces of legislation. None of these seem to stop a large number of online criminals, mostly because they laws are not properly enforced and the crimes are very lucrative.
Of course the major crime syndicates in the United States and abroad have not let technology advance without them. They have been making use of technology in order to bring their criminal activities online. A report from McCaffee tells us that many criminal gangs are paying students in school to work for them, and some of the students are as young as 14. Young students who view themselves as hackers are being drawn in and paid quite nicely for their services, and are often blackmailed into doing more work for the crime syndicates.
Organized crime involves them selves in many types of cyber crime. Organized crime often is involved in “pump and dump” scams which persons pump up a stock with fake positive news about the organization so that they can sell their stock at an inflated price. They also take over numerous computer systems so that they can send out spam email and are involved in other types of advance fee fraud.