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Updated on June 7, 2012

As the World Wide Web casts its net wider, the use and abuse of the net has increased dramatically. ARPANET the predecessor of today’s Internet was merely a security network created by the Pentagon in collaboration with a few Universities. But Internet today has a variety of applications. The use of the net is widely known and appreciated. Internet however can be used for a lot of nefarious activities too.

What distinguishes cyber crimes from other forms of crime is the use of computer for committing a crime or is the subject of a crime that has been perpetrated


E-Mail harassment:

This is a common form of cyber crime where your inward box contains persistant unsolicited emails of a threatening nature. Apart from the legal option of informing the cyber cells to investigate this, the other technological option is to activate the ‘black list’ or ‘block list’ provided by the email provider.


This is a situation, where the victim’s mail account is hacked and used to send defamatory material to others in order to tarnish the image of the victim.


Many receive e-mails of reputed organizations, which seem authentic, and lure the recipient in parting with confidential information like credit card numbers, which the unsuspecting person parts with. After the identity theft, it is used to purchase illegal purchases and commit fraud.

Cyber stalking:

This involves pursuing an individually relentlessly across the net or harass an individual. The individual may be followed either through online forum, chat rooms or social networking sites. The victim would be harassed by sending unsolicited e-mails, flaming, or by even creating fake blogs and posting defamatory or obscene content in it.

Transmitting virus:

This is probably the most well known form of computer crime. The virus is small program, which attaches itself to a real program like a spreadsheet, and replicates itself until it shuts down the system or network. From the earliest Melissa virus and ILOVEYOU virus, to the present Stuxnet and Flame virus these electronic infections have become not only more virulent but cause for great concern, owing to the chances or unleashing a cyber war not only on states but by states too.



Unauthorized access to a computer network or controlling it is another crime. Commonly known as hacking, hackers form part of a computer underground fraternity. Defining hacking has been difficult owing to the conflicting perspectives of its nomenclature. This is on account of the differences in intention of those who violate computer security. In Internet slang, white hat hackers are those who break into computers, not with any malicious intention but purely perform vulnerability tests and performance tests. Known also as ethical hacking, International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants even offers certifications. There is also a second category of hackers known as black hat hackers who violate computer security either for personal gain or inflicting damage.

As hackers form a underground fraternity, they have a pecking order, starting with the Elite hacker at the top, down to the neophyte who is the baby of the lot.

Cyber terrorism

Like hacking defining cyber terrorism has been made difficult owing to the differences in motivation, targeting and modus operandi. It may be caused either by disgruntled individuals or hardcore terrorist groups. A broad definition according to Technolytics Institute is "The premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives. Or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives.” There are two well-documented case of cyber terrorism. One is the case of release of untreated sewage waters in Maroochy shire Australia, by a disgruntled employee named Vitek Boden. The other is the case of Estonia being subjected to mass cyber attack in 2007 which virtually grounded the Estonian ministry networks. The film Live Free or Die Hard is based on the theme of cyber terrorism.

Intellectual property crimes:

Another kind of cyber crime is the stealing of intellectual property. Software piracy, copyright and trademark infringements, theft of computer source codes are examples of this.

Cyber space being the new Wild West, difficulty lies not only in framing the laws, but also in implementing it. In such a situation, the best option for an individual is not only in using discretion, but also in updating matters relating to computer and Internet safety.


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  • ram_m profile image

    ram_m 5 years ago from India

    Thank you GStewart for your nice comments. It's true that many are prudently avoiding shopping and e banking because with malicious viruses like Zeus and SpyEye infecting many computers online financial frauds has become very common.

  • GStewart11 profile image

    Gary Stewart 5 years ago from Fort Worth

    Excellent article, one of the fastest growing crimes today. Many people are starting to avoid using the computer for shopping and ebanking just for these reasons.

  • ram_m profile image

    ram_m 5 years ago from India

    yes Phelcky we are treading on an unknown area,there may be mines, swamps and booby traps. Better to play safe than be sorry. Thank you for your nice comment.

  • Phelcky profile image

    Lilly 5 years ago from Denmark

    Interesting article! I don't think many of us think about the dangers lurking on the internet. We have to be careful :)