Consumer Law & Consumer Protection
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Questions and Answers About Computer Crimes
What is Cyber Crime
Computer or cyber crime is defined as any type of crime that involves or regards a computer or computer network. Cyber crime means that the computer may be used as a tool in the commission of the crime, or the computer may be the target of the criminal's activity.
What Is Net Crime?
Net crime is a more specialized and particular subset of cyber crime, in that it is defined as the criminal exploitation of the Internet. Net crimes have gained in popularity and publicity lately, as society is more aware of offenses, such as hacking, copyright infringement, and child pornography.
What Are the Categories of Computer Crimes?
The United States Department of Justice classifies computer crimes into three major categories:
- Target—The computer is used by the criminal as a target. The criminal attacks the computers of third parties to spread viruses or shut them down.
- Weapon—The computer is considered a weapon used to commit any other type of crime in an assisting capacity, such as use in illegal gambling or child pornography.
- Accessory—The computer is used as an accessory or way to store or file illegal, stolen, or criminal activity, such as child pornography, pictures of crime scenes taken by a murderer, pictures of stalking victims, and/or instructions or manuals on how to commit crimes.
Because of the serious, damaging, and even deadly ways that a computer can be used when in the wrong hands, parents, educators, non-profit organizations, federal, state, and local governments, and even private industry have all been trying to collaborate and work together to protect our society and in particular, our children. Computer and modern technology facilitate the illegal work of criminals in ways that allow them to injure more people, across more miles, faster, and in less detectable ways.
What Resources Are Available to Combat Cyber or Computer Crimes?
Computer crimes are on the rise in today's modern society. There are several federal governmental authorities available to educate the public, combat such crime, and enforce statutes, regulations, and laws in the cyber crime field. They include:
- Department of Justice Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section—The section's website, which can be found at www.cybercrime.gov, includes resources to educate readers about cyber crimes.
- Computer Emergency Response Team, referred to as CERT—The team's website can be accessed at www.cert.org.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Infrastructure Protection Center—The center's website is located at www.infragard.net. It provides systematic updates of cyber crime information, as well as descriptions of the crimes.
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