Defining Cyber crime is not so simple and perhaps that is why there has not been a single definition that is collectively approved by all the law enforcing bodies. However, the below mentioned definition is a commonly accepted and generally used definition by Various US law enforcing bodies:
"A criminal offense in which the computer is involved as an object of crime or as a tool for committing an offense's material component."
If you find yourself under criminal investigation for cyber crime then you should definitely seek legal advice. It is always better to have some knowledge about the law and crime that you are dealing with in order to save yourself from any unjust or undeserving sentences. Further, it will help you in avoiding any activity that may break the cyber law and put you in trouble.
Some of the most common and well defined internet crimes are:
- Child pornography: Online predators targeting children are in the top hit list of FBI. Child pornography is considered a very serious crime and even the possession of one such picture can land you in prison for five years. According to 18 U.S.C 110, Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children, the punishment for such a crime can be up-to 15 years in federal prison.
- Cyber stalking: Like the stalking in the real world, people can also stalk others over internet. Cyber stalking falls under the category of harassment and is a punishable offence.
- Scams and fraud: Fraud is actually a very broad term and covers a lot of different actions and activities. Basically, these crimes are dishonest acts which are done in order to gain monetary benefits.
- Trademark violations: Like it sounds, the trademark violations are those crimes where the registered trademark of one business is used by some other third party over the internet, with or without intent.
- Copyright violations: Copyright violations are perhaps the most common online activity. Copying content from any other source on the internet and using it for personal purpose without citing and linking to the source is considered as copyright violation.
- Computer and network hacking: These are the cyber crimes which are related to computer as well as network dealings. Such crimes include hacking, website defacing, creating and distributing computer viruses maliciously etc.
- Credit card hacking: Credit card hacking also falls under fraud cases but it is now a very common crime therefore we would point it out separately. The credit card information of users is retrieved and hacked by unauthorized personals who intend to use it for personals gains.
- Bank account hacking: Just like credit card hacking, the bank card hacking also involves access of bank account information of users. This information is then usually used for transferring funds to other accounts.
The first law against cyber crime was enacted in 1984 and was called "The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act". CFAA is the most important computer statute in US as all the other statutes concerned with above problems come by modifying the CFAA.
Further, in 1986 "Electronic Communication Privacy Act" was enacted which actually was an amended version of wiretap law. According to this law, intercepting, using, accessing or disclosing of transmitted or stored electronic communications without authorization is illegal.
Now that you know something about cyber crime and law you can avoid situations where you can be accused of cyber crime. Further, if you have any doubt or confusion then you can ask legal questions to cyber law attorneys over internet for free and clear all your doubts. It is always better to be informed than make mistake and then regret.