Cyber crime is an evil having its origin in the growing dependence on computers in modern life. In a day and age when everything from microwave ovens and refrigerators to hospitals, oil refineries and nuclear power plants is being run on computers, cyber crime has assumed rather sinister implications.
The first recorded Cyber crime took place in the year 1820! That is not surprising considering the fact that the abacus, which is believed to have been the earliest form of a computer, has been around since 3500 B.C. in India, Japan and China.
In 1820, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, a textile manufacturer in France, produced the loom. This device allowed the repetition of a series of steps in the weaving of special fabrics. This resulted in a fear amongst Jacquard's employees that their traditional employment and livelihood were being threatened. They committed acts of sabotage to discourage Jacquard from further use of the new technology. This is the first recorded cyber crime!
I. Definition and types of cyber crimes
At the onset, let us define "cyber crime" A simple yet sturdy definition of cyber crime would be "unlawful acts wherein the computer is either a tool or a target or both".
Cyber crimes: Let us examine the acts wherein the computer is a tool for an unlawful act. This kind of activity usually involves a modification of a conventional crime by using computers. Some examples are:
1. Financial crimes: This would include cheating, credit card frauds, money laundering etc. To cite a recent case, a website offered to sell mangoes at a throwaway price. Distrusting such a transaction, very few people responded to or supplied the website with their credit card numbers. These people were actually sent the mangoes. The word about this website now spread like wildfire. Thousands of people from all over the country responded and ordered mangoes by providing their credit card numbers. The owners of what was later proven to be a bogus website then fled taking the numerous credit card numbers and proceeded to spend huge amounts of money much to the chagrin of the card owners.
2. Cyber pornography: This would include pornographic websites; pornographic magazines produced using computers (to publish and print the material) and the Internet (to download and transmit pornographic pictures, photos, writings etc).
3. Sale of illegal articles: This would include sale of narcotics, weapons and wildlife etc., by posting information on websites, auction websites, and bulletin boards or simply by using email communication. E.g. many of the auction sites even in India are believed to be selling cocaine in the name of 'honey'.
4. Online gambling: Many websites today offer online gambling. In fact, it is believed that many of these websites are actually fronts for money laundering.
5. Intellectual Property crimes: These include software piracy, copyright infringement, trademarks violations, theft of computer source code etc.