The advent of information age has brought changes that are far beyond the scope of human imagination. The internet has been one of the most monumental technological invention in the communication history of human. The internet comprises a series of interconnected computers or networks that enable electronic communication and information exchange across the world. The number of internet users has been increased rapidly for the last few decades. In addition, internet access has increased in many places across the globe paralleling one of the greatest milestone in the history of communication. However, the internet has helped in enhancing criminal activity by providing criminals with a platform for communicating with each other between distant locations. A number of other criminal activities such as identity fraud and fraud have been aided by the internet (Henson, 2011). Internet crime has quickly become one of the most challenging issues for both law enforcers and the general public large at large.
Internet crime is an illegal activity perpetrated on an information network for instance the internet. Internet based crime are the ones that are perpetrated using the internet. Some of the most common examples of crime committed by criminals using the internet is hacking and pharming. Hacking is commonly considered as the act of gaining unauthorized access to an online systems network systems. The aim of carrying out hacking by criminals is to gain access to confidential information, steal information or alter information (Hinduja, 2007). On the hand, pharming is a process of using programming code to alter computer or network server in order to steal personal information such as usernames and passwords.
The internet aided in a number of criminal activities which include organized crime, terrorism and cybercrime. Members of organized criminals has exploited the internet to coordinate their international operations in both developed and developing countries. Such organized include drug cartels, prison gangs, and fraudsters. Terrorists use to internet to communicate with their members in distant locations. Terrorists grouped such as Al-Qaeda popularly use the anonymizer feature in computers to coordinate their terrorist activities across many countries. They also have website to recruit and provide radical information and propaganda to most of their followers (Henson, 2011). Cybercrime includes activities such as cyberbullying, cyber stalking, online fraud, online intrusion, and online intrusion.
Several traditional crimes that traditionally have been non-digital in nature are now being aided through the use of the internet. The exponential growth of the internet in the modern society has enabled criminals to change their mode of doing crime because of the capabilities of the internet. Non-digital crime such as bank robbery, drugs, weapons, and violence have now been abetted by the internet. For instance, criminals no longer require to physically rob a bank using guns (Hinduja, 2007). They are now employing modern methods such as hacking to gain access to banking systems and steal customers’ information.
Criminals have used viruses, other malicious code, and phishing attacks to advance their criminal activities. A virus is a malicious program that criminals attach to another software to execute a particular but unwanted operation on a computer. Other malicious code such as worms and Trojan horses are used by criminals. Viruses and other malicious code such as worms and Trojan Horses are inserted by criminals to a host computer to corrupt a system, deny access, replicate information, or deny services. On the other hand phishing is a method employed by criminals to trick people to provide their personal and sensitive information (Wall, 2007). Phishers use e-mail to trick other people to provide information such as credit card numbers or passwords. Phishers masquerades as a trusted person who legitimately requires the sensitive information.
- Henson, B., Reyns, B., & Fisher, B. (2011). Internet crime. In W. Chambliss (Ed.), Key Issues in Crime and Punishment: Crime and criminal behavior. (pp. 155-168). Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.
- Hinduja, S. (2007). Computer Crime Investigations in the United States: Leveraging Knowledge from the Past to Address the Future. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, Vol 1 Issue 1
- Wall, D. (2007). Cybercrime: The Transformation of Crime in the Information Age. Cambridge: Polity Press.