What Exactly Is A ‘Cybercrime’?
One hundred years ago, if someone wanted to steal money – they had to physically rob a bank, a house, an office, or some other property. If they wanted to stalk someone, they had to actually follow them. These days, our technology has evolved to the point that virtually everyone spends a portion of their day on the internet and benefitting from computer technology – for everything from communication to finances, and home security to national security. Unfortunately, crime has advanced just behind this rapidly advancing technology curve.
Crimes can now be committed from the “convenience” of a home using only a computer. Individual credentials and credit cards can be obtained from unwary victims, online predators can stalk women and children, and national defense systems can be compromised from anywhere around the globe. Welcome to the world of cybercrime.
What is Cybercrime?
While the term “cybercrime” covers a wide range of criminal activity, it can be simply defined as:
“A crime where a computer or network is the target of the crime, or when a computer is used to commit a crime.”
There are many types of cybercrime, including:
Cyberstalking: It’s become almost effortless for an individual to harass, badger, and otherwise intimidate a target using social media, email, hacking, and other computerized methods of communication. A more subtle version of cyberstalking is used by criminals to sexually exploit children and get them to provide private photographs, sensitive information, and even meet in person.
Phishing: Millions of fraudulent emails are sent every day in an attempt to get victims to click on a link or provide access to one or more accounts, giving the criminal the credentials needed to commit fraud, or sell the credentials to another for fraudulent purposes.
Social Engineering: Some criminals pose as representatives of the government, bank, or another institution that you have a relationship with to gain private access or information. They generally study their victims through social media and then contact them via phone or email. Once the information has been obtained, they can use it for fraudulent purposes or sell it.
Identity theft: A broad category of cybercrime is obtaining a victim’s personal information to fraudulently create bank accounts, phone accounts, participate in health or insurance fraud, or countless other illegal activities. A victim’s personal information can be obtained through hacking, phishing, social engineering, and more.
Illegally accessing government computer systems: A less-common form of cybercrime is hacking into and accessing government computer systems, such as police, FBI, national defense, and others. Sensitive information can then be stolen, false information planted, plans can be altered, and more.
DDoS attacks: A method of harming an organization or gaining access to its network is through a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. DDoS attacks are perpetrated by illegally installing malware on thousands of computers, and then using them to overload a website or server, causing it to crash and become vulnerable.
Defending Against Cybercrime Charges
Despite their similarities to “normal” crime, cybercrimes are often very complex. Prosecutors use the complexity, as well as the fact that a jury likely won’t understand the technical details of the crime, to oversimplify the crime and sell them that you did it – despite possible evidence to the contrary.
The key to a good defense against cybercrime charges is having a modern legal team that understands the technical aspects of the crime and can use them to demonstrate your innocence. Our legal team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP has the technical experience and expertise to defend you against charges of cybercrimes, often resulting in dropped or reduced charges or an acquittal.