Cybercrime is an increasingly important area of criminology. It is both interesting and relevant in a world which is becoming more reliant on the use of the internet. Cybercrime can be directed at individuals or at national institutions. While cyber-attacks on national institutions sound more frightening on a large scale, it is arguable that those targeted against individuals, particularly children, post a much higher threat to our nation.
The Department of Justice classifies cybercrime in three main ways. Firstly, computer crime can be attacking other people’s computers, such as spreading viruses. The second way is by using the computer as a means to other types of crime. Thirdly, cybercrime can be committed by using the computer as an accessory to store illegal information (Cyber Citizenship, 2012). These cybercrimes can be committed against individuals or against large institutions.
Cybercrimes committed against individuals can include crimes such as harassment. There are numerous types of harassment that occurs online; examples of this are sexual, racial and religious harassment, among others. A study carried out in Canada revealed that around a quarter of children interviewed had been victims of cyber harassment on more than one occasion (Beran & Li, 2005). This is a frighteningly high statistic and demonstrates how our younger generations are already being affected by crimes of this type.
Another example of where cyber-crime can be directed at individuals is in the grooming of children by paedophiles. Via online chat rooms and social networksing sites, paedophiles can pose as children in order to gain access and communicate with young people. In many cases, they can success in convincing and gaining the trust of children, sometimes to the point of persuading them to meet up in person. This can happen all over the world. For example, a UK man was recently jailed for grooming a young girl over the internet, arranging to meet her, and then raping her (Sims, 2012). This type of cybercrime threatens an entire generation who are America’s future leaders. There are few crimes as damaging as those against children.
Cybercrime is an everyday element of the IT world. For example, when Olympics Games committees are considering security, cyber security is an important part (Arthur, 2012). Huge teams are dedicated to safeguarding against cyber-attacks and to handling them efficiently if they do happen. The Olympic Games are just one example where cybercrime is in the forefront of organisers’ minds. On a more general level, all businesses and individuals have to be aware of the crime. Most people have anti-virus software on their home computers, and companies tend to have larger programs installed.
The US in particular is attempting to clamp down on cybercrime. Many large institutions are now requesting crime units for constant monitoring and protection. Furthermore, there are strategies in place to detect when an individual is viewing child pornography on their computer.
While cybercrime against individuals and against large institutions are both undesirable and potentially dangerous, it seems clear that the largest threat to our society is the targeting of individuals, and especially when the victims are children. America’s young people are the country’s future leaders and decision makers. With such a level of corruption and abuse occurring at this stage in their lives, it is worrying to consider the kind of adults they may become.
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Cyber Citizenship. (2012). What is Cyber Crime? Retrieved from
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Sims, P. (2012). Paedophile raped girl, 13. Daily Mail. Retrieved from
http://www. dailymail. co. uk/news/article-2085135/James-Haig-paedophile-rapist-