Cyber crimes are crimes in which the computer is either an “object or subject of the conduct constituting crime.” Computers are easy to access and store a lot of data in a small space, which make them vulnerable to criminals. Cyber criminals may include children, adolescents, professional hackers, resentful employees, etc. The BAL Bharati case in Delhi is an example of a cyber crime committed by a juvenile. Harassment by friends was the reason. Hackers ply their trade for various reasons. Pakistani hackers target websites of the Indian government for political motives. Others hack websites of companies to get information about their products or activities and then sell the information to their rivals. Employees who have been sacked hack the systems of their employers for revenge.
Email bombing is the term used to describe the sending of many emails to the victim resulting in their systems crashing. Data diddling means altering raw data before a computer processes it. It is changed again after the processing is finished. Salami attacks are found in financial institutions. Here, the data altered is very small. For instance, in the Ziegler case, a logic bomb was introduced in the bank’s system. Ten cents was deducted from every account and deposited in a separate account. In denial of service attack, the computer is flooded with many requests until it crashes. Computer viruses and worm attacks are further examples of cyber attacks. The love bug virus caused losses amounting to $10 million. Robert Morris unleashed the Internet worm in 1998 which almost halted the development of the internet. Then there are logic bombs which are programs which get activate d when a certain event happens.
Trojan attacks are unauthorized programs. They get control over another system by pretending to be an authorized program. They are installed through email usually. In the US, a cyber criminal secured the nude photos of a woman through a Trojan installed in her computer which had a web cam. Some people get access to the login ID and password of a person and use up the Internet surfing hours of the victim. This is called Internet time theft. In web jacking, the culprit gets control over the victim’s website and sometimes changes it. Phishing is another example. Here, offenders gain access to credit card information and use it to siphon money from the victim’s account. Cyber stalking, email spoofing, cheating and fraud, intellectual property violations, cyber terrorism, pornography, sale of illegal objects, online gambling etc. are only some of the many kinds of cyber crimes.
To ensure online safety, one should avoid disclosing personal information to strangers. This applies to sharing photographs too. Latest antivirus software must be used and back up volumes should be kept. Credit card numbers must not be sent to unsecured sites. An eye should be kept on the sites that children use. Cookies should not be left unguarded. Using firewalls can also help. The computer is a handy tool no doubt. Unfortunately it has proved to be a handy tool for criminals as well.