The increase of cybercrimes and their legal ramifications

This article was written by  Josh Wardini, Community Manager at  Webmastersjury.


In recent decades we have seen a series of dramatic changes in criminal activity and their resulting legal ramifications. With the creation and development of the internet, a new type of crime has emerged – cybercrime. Whilst traditional crimes such as theft, muggings, fraud, and murder are still prevalent, the wide usage of the internet brings a huge increase in the number of cybercrimes perpetrated.
Law enforcement teams are specializing to cope with this new threat, businesses are tightening security, and governments are considering sentencing for a whole new range of crimes. This article looks at exactly what cybercrimes are, what damage they can cause, and what punishment criminals may receive if caught.
What are cybercrimes?
Cybercrimes are crimes carried out online or through digital mediums. Cybercrimes come in many different forms. They are continually evolving as the internet expands and new technological advancements emerge. Cybercrimes typically involve breaking into or attacking secured networks, databases, or even individual computers. The following are some of the types of cyber attacks:
Phishing: creating a fake website or piece of marketing that appears official in order to scam customers. The customer believes the website to be authentic and thus divulges her personal information such as card details and email address.
Malware: user installs a program onto her device that appears harmless. In reality, this program may have a hidden virus that can damage the device, or even create a backdoor opening that allows the criminal to hack into her files. If <a href=”“>Avast</a> isn’t installed to protect your data, malware can cause serious and often irreparable damage.
Denial of Service: a criminal will use a powerful server or program to continually bombard the target server or website with requests. This overload of information will cause the target to collapse and cease functioning due to the sheer volume of traffic.
Other types of attack will concentrate on infiltrating a business’s secure computer system with the sole aim of stealing valuable information such as card details or even funds.
As you can see, cybercriminals can carry out a range of different attacks with ease. Some cybercriminals simply want to test knowledge and see how good their hacking skills are. These types of criminals often try and disrupt well-known company websites or services to make a statement.
Cybercriminal gangs, however, are the real issue – these are organized groups of hackers who operate illegally on the internet to commit crimes for their own gain. As cybercrime has become more lucrative, we are seeing an increase in the so-called cybercriminal gangs.
What damage can cybercrimes cause?
The damage of cybercrimes is sometimes difficult to measure. If someone is murdered, the damage is clear – someone has lost life and a whole network of people such as friends and family will be affected. How can you assess the damage of an attack that has been perpetrated online? The severity and damage of cybercrimes can vary greatly, but their actual damage is sometimes considered a grey area.
Some cybercrimes can simply cause a brief disruption to service – a server might go down for a few hours, for example, or a company website may be unusable. Other cybercrimes could cause lasting network damage – a personal computer could become infected with a virus resulting in a loss of personal data and sensitive files, for example. The most dangerous cyber attacks can go so far as to steal millions of dollars from businesses or individuals – in some cases these funds are never recovered.
What is legal retribution the cybercriminals subject to if caught?
Cybercriminal laws
There is often a common misconception among the public that cybercriminals rarely face justice. This is because of a lack of knowledge of the types of justice and cybercriminal law. As cybercrimes have evolved, so have justice systems and law.
To combat cybercrimes, various governments have proposed new acts and law to provide a grounds for justice and imprisonment. In developing countries, cybercriminal law remains weak and thus cybercrime remains a large issue. However, in countries such as the USA, UK, and Germany, the cyber law has evolved greatly.
Examples of law created to impede cybercrime include the US Computer Software privacy and Control Act of 2004, The Fraudulent Online Identity Sanction Act of 2004, and the Computer Misuse Act of the UK. These laws and acts contain specific guidelines and procedures for cybercrimes, and how criminals should be dealt with.
Cybercriminal justice
Legal punishment for cybercrimes can also vary greatly depending on the severity of the crime.
In the UK, for example, a simple crime of “unauthorized access to computer material” can result in a prison sentence of up to two years. Alternatively, “Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate the commission of further offenses” can result in up to five years imprisonment.
In the US, cybercrimes are prosecuted depending on the severity of the crime. For example, a first-degree cybercrime (damage up to $10,000 in value) is classed as a B felony, which could result in 20 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine. Alternatively, a 5th degree cybercrime (damage up to $500 in value) could result in up to six months in prison, or up to a $1,000 fine.
In short, if you are caught committing a cybercrime, you are subject to the full force of the law and will receive prosecution equal to your crime. As cyber law evolves and governments improve understanding of cyber attacks, the relating justice system should only improve.
We hope you have found this article useful. Cybercrimes can be hugely damaging and it is important to understand the potential threats. It is also important to understand that cybercriminals are subject to justice and that there is real legislation enabling prosecution – no one can escape the law.

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