By-Karnika Seth, Cyberlaw expert

Cyber crimes denotes a term indicative of criminal activities in which a computer or computer network is either the instrumentality for its commission or its target .Computer is a target of cyber crime in common data theft case, unauthorized access which may be physical as well as virtual with the aim of wrongful taking of information or causing damage to information contained in a computer. The most common cyber crimes of this nature are hacking, theft of marketing information, Trade secrets etc. Where traditional crimes are committed with the help of computers or internet, Computers and internet act as tool to commit crimes. In this segment include offences such as fraudulent use of credit cards and accounts, theft of money, cheating etc.

Yet another category of computer crimes is where computer is incidental to commission of a crime. For example, child pornography, money laundering scams such as the Nigerian scam. Another category of cyber crimes is the set of crimes where computer is used as an associate such as software piracy, copyright violations and piracy in audio and video markets. A study conducted by Asian School of Cyber Laws, Computer Crime and Abuse Report (India), 2001-02 dated 15th March, 2003 highlights that 52% of cyber crime incidents can be traced to insiders constituting 21 % of present employees and 31% of former employees. 29% of incidents involve business rivals and 19% of incidents involve hackers and other crackers.

While some of the crimes may be new, the others are simply different ways to commit conventional crimes such as frauds, theft, blackmailing, forgery, and embezzlement using the online medium often involving the use of internet. What accelerates the growth of such crimes are typical characteristics of cyber space interalia , anonymity, speed, access, dependency, borderless space and lack of awareness of laws.

Also, Cyber crimes can be broadly categorized into three categories namely-

(i) Crime against government such as Cyber terrorism

(ii) Crime against persons such as Cyber pornography, Cyber Stalking, Cyber defamation

(iii) Crime against property such as Online gambling, Intellectual property infringement, phising, credit card frauds