Cyber crime is the latest and perhaps the most complicated problem in the cyber world. Any criminal activity that uses a computer either as an instrument, target or a means for perpetuating further crimes comes within the ambit of cyber crime.
A generalized definition of cyber crime may be as unlawful acts wherein the computer is used as either a tool or target or both. The computer may be used as a tool in the following kinds of activity-
The computer may however be target for unlawful acts in the following cases-
REASONS FOR CYBER CRIME
We may say that computers are vulnerable so rule of law is required to protect and safeguard them against cyber crime. The reasons for the vulnerability of computers may be said to be:
1. Capacity to store data in comparatively small space
The computer has unique characteristic of storing data in a very small space. This affords to remove or derive information either through physical or virtual medium makes it much easier.
2. Easy to access
The problem encountered in guarding a computer system from unauthorised access is that there is every possibility of breach not due to human error but due to the complex technology. By secretly implanted logic bomb, key loggers that can steal access codes, advanced voice recorders; retina imagers etc. that can fool biometric systems and bypass firewalls can be utilized to get past many a security system.
The computers work on operating systems and these operating systems in turn are composed of millions of codes. Human mind is fallible and it is not possible that there might not be a lapse at any stage. The cyber criminals take advantage of these lacunas and penetrate into the computer system.
Negligence is very closely connected with human conduct. It is therefore very probable that while protecting the computer system there might be any negligence, which in turn provides a cyber criminal to gain access and control over the computer system.
5. Loss of evidence
Loss of evidence is a very common & obvious problem as all the data are routinely destroyed. Further collection of data outside the territorial extent also paralyses this system of crime investigation.
The cyber criminals constitute of various groups/ category. This division may be justified on the basis of the object that they have in their mind. The following are the category of cyber criminals.
1. Children and adolescents between the age group of 6 – 18 years
The simple reason for this type of delinquent behaviour pattern in children is seen mostly due to the inquisitiveness to know and explore the things. Other cognate reason may be to prove themselves to be outstanding amongst other children in their group. Further the reasons may be psychological even.
2. Organised hackers
These kinds of hackers are mostly organised together to fulfil certain objective. The reason may be to fulfil their political bias, fundamentalism, etc.
3. Professional hackers / crackers
Their work is motivated by the colour of money. These kinds of hackers are mostly employed to hack the site of the rivals and get credible, reliable and valuable information. Further they are even employed to crack the system of the employer basically as a measure to make it safer by detecting the loopholes.
4. Discontented employees
This group include those people who have been either sacked by their employer or are dissatisfied with their employer. To avenge they normally hack the system of their employee.
MODE AND MANNER OF COMMITING CYBER CRIME
5. Unauthorized access to computer systems or networks / Hacking
This kind of offence is normally referred as hacking in the generic sense. However the framers of the information technology act 2000 have no where used this term so to avoid any confusion we would not interchangeably use the word hacking for ‘unauthorized access’ as the latter has wide connotation.
6. Theft of information contained in electronic form
This includes information stored in computer hard disks, removable storage media etc. Theft may be either by appropriating the data physically or by tampering them through the virtual medium.
7. Email bombing
This kind of activity refers to sending large numbers of mail to the victim, which may be an individual or a company or even mail servers there by ultimately resulting into crashing.
8. Data diddling
This kind of an attack involves altering raw data just before a computer processes it and then changing it back after the processing is completed.
9. Salami attacks
This kind of crime is normally prevalent in the financial institutions or for the purpose of committing financial crimes. An important feature of this type of offence is that the alteration is so small that it would normally go unnoticed.
10. Denial of Service attack
The computer of the victim is flooded with more requests than it can handle which cause it to crash. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is also a type of denial of service attack, in which the offenders are wide in number and widespread.
11. Virus / worm attacks
Viruses are programs that attach themselves to a computer or a file and then circulate themselves to other files and to other computers on a network. They usually affect the data on a computer, either by altering or deleting it. Worms, unlike viruses do not need the host to attach themselves to. They merely make functional copies of themselves and do this repeatedly till they eat up all the available space on a computer's memory.
12. Logic bombs
These are event dependent programs. This implies that these programs are created to do something only when a certain event (known as a trigger event) occurs.
13. Trojan attacks
This term has its origin in the word ‘Trojan horse’. In software field this means an unauthorized programme, which passively gains control over another’s system by representing itself as an authorised programme. The most common form of installing a Trojan is through e-mail.
14. Internet time thefts
Normally in these kinds of thefts the Internet surfing hours of the victim are used up by another person. This is done by gaining access to the login ID and the password.
15. Web jacking
This term is derived from the term hi jacking. In these kinds of offences the hacker gains access and control over the web site of another. He may even mutilate or change the information on the site. This may be done for fulfilling political objectives or for money.
PREVENTION OF CYBER CRIME
Prevention is always better than cure. It is always better to take certain precaution while operating the net. One must adopt the 5P mantra for online security: Precaution, Prevention, Protection, Preservation and Perseverance. A netizen should keep in mind the following things-
Capacity of human mind is unfathomable. It is not possible to eliminate cyber crime from the cyber space. It is quite possible to check them. History is the witness that no legislation has succeeded in totally eliminating crime from the globe. The only possible step is to make people aware of their rights and duties (to report crime as a collective duty towards the society) and further making the application of the laws more stringent to check crime. Undoubtedly the Act is a historical step in the cyber world.