When Internet was developed, the founding fathers of Internet hardly had any inclination that Internet could also be misused for criminal activities. Today, there are many disturbing things happening in cyberspace. Cybercrime refers to all the activities done with criminal intent in cyberspace. These could be either the criminal activities in the conventional sense or could be activities, newly evolved with the growth of the new medium. Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, it is possible to engage into a variety of criminal activities with impunity and people with intelligence, have been grossly misusing this aspect of the Internet to perpetuate criminal activities in cyberspace. The field of Cybercrime is just emerging and new forms of criminal activities in cyberspace are coming to the forefront with the passing of each new day.
There can be no one exhaustive definition about Cybercrime. However, any activities which basically offend human sensibilities, can also be included in its ambit. Child Pornography on the Internet constitutes one serious Cybercrime. Similarly, online pedophiles, using internet to induce minor children into sex, are as much Cybercriminals as any others.
Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories being Cybercrimes against persons, property and Government.
Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail, and cyber-stalking.
The trafficking, distribution, posting, and dissemination of obscene material including pornography, indecent exposure, and child pornography, constitutes one of the most important Cybercrimes known today. The potential harm of such a crime to humanity can hardly be overstated. This is one Cybercrime which threatens to undermine the growth of the younger generation as also leave irreparable scars and injury on the younger generation, if not controlled.
Cyber harassment is a distinct Cybercrime. Various kinds of harassment can and does occur in cyberspace, or through the use of cyberspace. Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. Persons perpetuating such harassment are also guilty of cybercrimes. Cyber harassment as a crime also brings us to another related area of violation of privacy of netizens. Violation of privacy of online citizens is a Cybercrime of a grave nature. No one likes any other person invading the precious and extremely touchy area of his or her own privacy which the medium of Internet grants to the netizen.
The second category of Cybercrimes is that of Cybercrimes against all forms of property. These crimes include unauthorized computer trespassing through cyberspace, computer vandalism, transmission of harmful programs, and unauthorized possession of computerized information.
Hacking and cracking are amongst the gravest Cybercrimes known till date. It is a dreadful feeling to know that a stranger has broken into your computer systems without your knowledge and consent and has tampered with precious confidential data and information. Coupled with this , the actuality is that no computer system in the world is hacking proof. It is unanimously agreed that any and every system in the world can be hacked. The recent denial of service attacks seen over the popular commercial sites like E-bay, Yahoo, Amazon and others are a new category of Cybercrimes which are slowly emerging as being extremely dangerous. Using one's own programming abilities as also various programmes with malicious intent to gain unauthorized access to a computer or network are very serious crimes. Similarly, the creation and dissemination of harmful computer programs or virus which do irreparable damage to computer systems is another kind of Cybercrime. Software piracy is also another distinct kind of Cybercrime which is perpetuated by many people online who distribute illegal and unauthorised pirated copies of software.
The third category of Cybercrimes relate to Cybercrimes against Government. Cyber Terrorism is one distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of Internet has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals and groups to threaten the international governments as also to terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual &"cracks&" into a government or military maintained website.
Since Cybercrime is a newly specialised field, growing in Cyberlaws, a lot of development has to take place in terms of putting into place the relevant legal mechanism for controlling and preventing Cybercrime. As of now, there is absolutely no comprehensive law on Cybercrime any where in the world. This is reason that the investigating agencies like FBI are finding the Cyberspace to be an extremely difficult terrain. These various Cybercrimes fall into that grey area of Internet law which is neither fully nor partially covered by the existing laws and that too in some countries.
The case of the virus "I love you" demonstrates the need for having cyberlaws concerning Cybercrimes in different national jurisdictions. At the time of the web publication of this feature, Reuters has reported that "The Philippines has yet to arrest the suspected creator of the 'Love Bug' computer virus because it lacks laws that deal with computer crime, a senior police officer said". The fact of the matter is that there are no laws relating to Cybercrime in the Philippines. The National Bureau of Investigation is finding it difficult to legally arrest the suspect behind the 'Love Bug' computer virus. As such, the need for countries to legislate Cyberlaws relating to Cybercrime arises on an urgent priority basis.
The courts in United States of America have already begun taking cognizance of various kinds of fraud and Cybercrimes being perpetuated in Cyberspace. For the victims of various Cybercrimes, there is no one healing remedy. They can either file for civil damages or wait for the culprits to be nabbed and then to be tried under provisions, existing or envisaged which are not comprehensive at all. However, a lot of work has to be done in this field. Just as human mind is ingenious enough to devise new ways for perpetuating crime, similarly, human ingenuity needs to be channelised into developing effective legal and regulatory mechanisms to control and prevent Cybercrimes.
We all must remember that Cyberspace is a common heritage of ours which we have inherited in our life times from the benefits of ever growing technologies. This Cyberspace is the lifeline of the entire universe and given its irreversible position today, it is the duty of every netizen to contribute toward making the said cyberspace free of any trouble or cybercrime. To rephrase the famous words of Rabindra Nath Tagore in today's context, "Where the Cyberspace is without fear or crime and the head is held high, where knowledge is free, where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection, ….. into that cyber heaven of freedom, O my father, let our humanity awake."