Cyber Crime Breeds a New Type of Criminal

Published: 17th July 2009
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Criminals are known to do their dirty deeds in secret, but when the Internet became accessible to everyone, criminals were afforded a new level of anonymity, and were able to hide their activity on their computers, often in their own homes. This new breed of criminals left law enforcement officials scrambling to figure out how to stop their crime wave and define cyber crime.

The U.S. Department of Justice determined the criteria for cyber crime that includes:

Using the computer as a target. An example is any type of virus that can infect one or many computers.
Using the computer as a weapon. Online scams such as phishing and cyber bullying or stalking fall under this definition.
Storing illegal data on a computer. This data could be stolen trade secrets, confidential information, or child pornography.

Cyber crimes often involve hacking into someone else's computer and gaining access to his or her personal information. This information can be used to steal their identity, place charges on their credit cards, or gain access to secret information.

Often, financial gain is not the goal for cyber criminals. Child pornographers use the Internet to share illegal pictures and videos. Some cyber criminals hack into someone's computer to gain access to their personal email or their financial information.

The penalties for cyber crimes have increased as police have become savvier at catching the thieves. The FBI has a unit that targets cyber crimes. In a recent investigation, a Florida man was charged with illegally accessing the personal financial data of thousands of people by hacking into the wireless networks of many national retailers. He is facing a sentence of up to 22 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

As these types of crimes become more sophisticated and more widespread, law enforcement agencies will need to improve their ability to catch cyber criminals and take measures to prevent cyber crimes.

If you have been wrongfully accused of a cyber crime, criminal defense lawyers can help. Experienced criminal lawyers help those facing criminal charges ranging from white collar crimes to sexual assault crimes develop strong legal strategies.

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