Cyber Crime and Privacy Issues
Cyber-crime refers to the use of information technology to commit crimes. Cyber-crimes can range from simply annoying computer users to huge financial losses and even the loss of human life. The growth of smartphones and other high-end Mobile devices that have access to the internet have also contributed to the growth of cyber-crime.
Types of cyber-crime
Identity theft occurs when a cyber-criminal impersonates someone else identity to practice malfunction. This is usually done by accessing personal details of someone else. The details used in such crimes include social security numbers, date of birth, credit and debit card numbers, passport numbers, etc.
Once the information has been acquired by the cyber-criminal, it can be used to make purchases online while impersonating himself to be someone else. One of the ways that cyber-criminals use to obtain such personal details is phishing. Phishing involves creating fake websites that look like legitimate business websites or emails.
For example, an email that appears to come from YAHOO may ask the user to confirm their personal details including contact numbers and email password. If the user falls for the trick and updates the details and provides the password, the attacker will have access to personal details and the email of the victim.
If the victim uses services such as PayPal, then the attacker can use the account to make purchases online or transfer funds.
Other phishing techniques involve the use of fake Wi-Fi hotspots that look like legitimate ones. This is common in public places such as restaurants and airports. If an unsuspecting user logons into the network, then cyber-crimes may try to gain access to sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, etc.
According to the US Department of Justice, a former state department employee used email phishing to gain access to email and social media accounts of hundreds of women and accessed explicit photos. He was able to use the photos to extort the women and threatened to make the photos public if they did not give in to his demands.
Piracy is one of the biggest problems with digital products. Websites such as the pirate bay are used to distribute copyrighted materials such as audio, video, software, etc. Copyright infringement refers to the unauthorized use of copyrighted materials.
Fast internet access and reducing costs of storage have also contributed to the growth of copyright infringement crimes.
Advertising companies such as Google AdSense offer pay per click advertising services. Click fraud occurs when a person clicks such a link with no intention of knowing more about the click but to make more money. This can also be accomplished by using automated software that makes the clicks.
Advance Fee Fraud
An email is sent to the target victim that promises them a lot of money in favor of helping them to claim their inheritance money.
In such cases, the criminal usually pretends to be a close relative of a very rich well-known person who died. He/she claims to have inherited the wealth of the late rich person and needs help to claim the inheritance. He/she will ask for financial assistance and promise to reward later. If the victim sends the money to the scammer, the scammer vanishes and the victim loses the money.
Hacking is used to by-pass security controls to gain unauthorized access to a system. Once the attacker has gained access to the system, they can do whatever they want. Some of the common activities done when system is hacked are;
- Install programs that allow the attackers to spy on the user or control their system remotely
- Deface websites
- Steal sensitive information. This can be done using techniques such as SQL Injection, exploiting vulnerabilities in the database software to gain access, social engineering techniques that trick users into submitting ids and passwords, etc.
Viruses are unauthorized programs that can annoy users, steal sensitive data or be used to control equipment that is controlled by computers.