Computer crime describes a very broad category of offenses. Some of them are the same as non-computer offenses, such as larceny or fraud, except that a computer or the Internet is used in the commission of the crime. Others, like many forms of hacking, are uniquely related to computers. Read on to find out what kinds of activities are considered computer crimes and how to prevent them.
Examples of Computer Crimes
Computer crime laws in many states prohibit a person from performing certain acts without authorization, including:
- Improperly accessing a computer, system, or network;
- Modifying, damaging, using, disclosing, copying, or taking programs or data;
- Introducing a virus or other contaminant into a computer system;
- Using a computer in a scheme to defraud;
- Interfering with someone else's computer access or use;
- Using encryption in aid of a crime;
- Falsifying e-mail source information; and
- Stealing an information service from a provider.
Losing a computer or a web account due to cyber crime can be very damaging, especially as we continue to rely more and more on these networks to conduct business. There are, however, certain things you can do to help protect yourself.
First, much of cyber crime is fraud involving the use of a computer. Learn the warning signs of fraudulent behavior and wire fraud. Be extremely careful when giving out sensitive personal information such as social security numbers and bank account access codes over the internet.
Otherwise, take basic precautions for keeping your data private. Use passwords that are difficult to hack and change them frequently. Don’t conduct financial transactions on public computers or over unprotected networks. You should also install a good anti-virus program on your computer and keep it updated. Finally, be careful about downloading software from disreputable websites as it can contain spyware, viruses, or other malware.
Take a look at FindLaw’s sections on financial crimes and cyber crimes to learn about related offenses.