In present world, no human life is untouched by the impact of technology. It will be not wrong to say, that use of technology today has become an extremely integral part of our lives. Our increase in dependence on technology has made it an increasingly consolidated platform, which has completely transformed the way business and communication is being done among human beings, this has left us exposed to the threats of cybercrime (Yar, 2013).
It will not be wrong to say, that at some level we as human beings are now becoming complacent towards cybercrime and its threat, and to a large extent we have left everything on technology to take care of. It is a situation where too much faith is being put on technology rather than addressing the problem itself (Anderson et al, 2012).
In this essay, focus will be on understanding the concept of cybercrime through case study of Australia’s largest copyright infringement case. As per this case, three university students, from one of the leading universities in Australia, received criminal sentences for running a website named MP3/WMA Land, which offered more than 2000 pirated songs for free download.
Over last twenty years, technology has completely revolutionized the human lives. However, unscrupulous use of information technology to commit crimes has also increased significantly. With time, phenomenon of cybercrime has become more sophisticated and menacing in nature. This work/essay seeks to define the concept of cybercrime and identify several arguments/rationale associate with it, so that there can be a logical understanding established on this topic of Cybercrime.
According to KPMG’s report (2014) on this topic, cybercrime can be identified as illegal digital activities, which are mainly targeted towards organisations and in some cases individuals to cause harm in several ways 9 Loader & Thomas, 2013). Cybercrime can be considered as an umbrella term which includes several methods to target or attach a potential victim by cyber criminals. In present world cybercrime can vary from basic illegal tasks such as defacing a website, to grave activities such as e-banking related or financial frauds of high level (Ngo & Paternoster, 2011, pp.773-793).
Main factor which has indirectly supported the spread of cybercrime is internet. Internet as a technology, over last few years has been rapidly engulfing every aspect human lives, and has grown tremendously as an area of technical infrastructure development. That is why, today ICT (Information and Communications Technology) can be termed as omnipresent in our lives. Whether it is sending a simple e-mail, or doing a complex banking transaction, everywhere information is exposed on the communication network (Herley, 2014). This high level of digitization with support of internet has resulted into large level of exposure of information which, earlier used to be much secure in non-digitized format. High level of internet penetration, has definitely helped the human lives more convenient, but this has also resulted into the fact that today any type of information can be exploited for illegal use by category of people known as cybercriminals. These cybercriminals are the one who indulge in committing cybercrime (Shrivastav, 2013).
Australian case of piracy is also a type of cybercrime. In order to understand this crime related to piracy it is first important to understand the digital music world. In present scenario, singers and other artists release their song over internet which are purchased by millions of people resulting into revenue generation. However, if a cybercriminal uploads this song for free download, then it becomes obvious that all free download will result into loss of millions of dollars for the artist and the label under which he might be working (McGee & Byington, 2013).
In case of international and popular artists, this situation can be even more serious. That is why music labels today take extra precautions to protect their digital properties, and have dedicated legal teams to tackle such cases (Hyman, 2013, pp.18-20).
In the Australian case of piracy, two student were sentenced for 18-months with a heavy penalty of $ 5000 per person, whereas third participant in their group was given 200 hours of community service.
Many people today advocate the concept of free internet, which means that people should be able to get songs, movies and other digital content free of cost. However, ethically and financially it is not justified and incorrect. For example of all the 2000 songs uploaded by the cyber-pirates on their website, each song if downloaded through legal route would have generated significant amount of revenue. It is important to understand that creation of content, its marketing and promotion is a significant cost to the label as well as the artist. However this example of piracy reflects the fact that how cybercriminal can cause damage financially (Australia, 2012).
People might also argue, that above case of piracy cannot be counted as a cybercrime, as people indulged in it didn’t generated any profit or advantage for themselves. However, in world of cybercrime, it is necessary to understand that cybercrimes are not just committed for gaining any profit or advantage. There are several cyber criminals who conduct cybercrime out of the feeling to prove their expertise which is not justified. In this argument of cybercrime and Australian case it is important to understand that there is one party which is suffering a monetary loss because of someone else’s unauthorized activity.
That is why, it becomes important to identify the intent in case of a cybercrime activity. People might assume that downloading free songs over internet is a harmless activity. However it is important to understand that it is as criminal as compared to any other cybercrime. There are several music labels in world today, which collapsed completely, just because they were unable to handle the problem of piracy. Songs and movies are pirated, and millions of people across globe download them, which ultimately results into a major loss for the producer/composer/studio etc.
In such situation, it becomes essential to categorize the cybercrime activities. Following is the classification:
This has been done in below section. Up till now cybercrime is mostly related with the financial information related crime or any government information use. People generally do not pay much attention to cases like the one mentioned above.
As mentioned in above section, that cybercriminals are the one who commit cybercrime. However cyber criminals is also an umbrella term, which means within cybercriminal group there can be people such as disgruntled employees, experienced hacker, organised cybercrime syndicates to an enemy government (Levin & Ilkina, 2013). Impact of cybercrime can be understood by the fact that, today enemy countries indulge from time to time into cyber warfare. In cyber warfare there is dedicated teams of cyber criminals whose main task is to destroy or impact enemy’s digital infrastructure, such as banking sites, classified information etc.
Biggest irony in this entire concept of cybercrime is the fact, that business organisations that develops counter-applications to tackle these issues claim for 100% security from any such cyber threat. Software applications such as firewall, anti-virus, anti-spam etc. are being sold in the market with this 100% security claim, which is practically not possible, and ideally it should never be the target as well (Australia, 2012). Because rather than completely relying on the technology itself, one must setup and develop capability which can deal with such incidents, and threats or loss can be minimised accordingly (Brahme & Joshi, 2013, pp.534-545).
It is surprising for many people, who believe that despite of having cutting edge technology we are yet to eradicate the menace of cybercrime from the technological landscape. However, despite various support available, there are several challenges in handling cybercrime. These challenges are as follows:
Dependency on ICT: Majority of our everyday communication depends a lot on the ICT and various other internet based devices and services. Today, day-to-day aspects of life such as management of car parking system, banking, supply of energy, telecommunication etc. is channelized and supported through use of ICT. However existing technological infrastructure has several loopholes. For example homogeneity of the operating systems on which these services run. Hence in such situation the cybercriminal can launch a single attack due to his expertise on the platform, and can exploit the system. In such cases, adequate strategies are required in the place, so that counter measures can be taken against any such attack (Filshtinskiy, 2013, pp.28-30).
Missing control mechanism: Presently except few international organisations in several industries, majority of the organisations are even not aware of threat perception to their information assets (Reyes et al, 2011). Even if they are aware, then they are not aware of the fact that how any potential attack on their assets should be thwarted. In such scenario, lack of awareness becomes a major challenge to handle such scenario. Organisations do not have proper control mechanism to handle any situation of cyber-attack. Most of the organisations are ill-prepared, and this at times lead to major loss of information due to attacks by cyber criminals. Hence it is important that high level of awareness is created, regarding setting up a proper control mechanism to handle such issues.
No location constraints and presence on the crime site: Unlike traditional crime scenario where there is specific location where the crime is committed, and there has to be some presence at the crime site in order to commit the crime, in cyber-crime, situation is exactly opposite. A cybercriminal while sitting in a remote part of world can siphon of millions of dollars from a bank in other part of world. Due to boundaries of international laws and regulations it becomes extremely challenging and time consuming for the agencies to coordinate on such cases (Broadhurst & Choo, 2011). Often investigation leads to no end resulting in further motivation for the cybercriminals.
One thing is sure, cybercrime activities extremely hard to stop or eradicate completely. It is a reality of information technology dominate lives of human being. However, rather than focusing on its eradication, security agencies and organisations can work together to come up with host of technology protocols which can enable in reducing the threat from cybercriminals. Multi-national corporations should work on establishing a communication protocol for business transactions and activities (Maheshwari et al, 2011). More importantly, it is necessary to create significant amount of awareness among people about the threat from cybercrime. There are vast number of people who are still unaware of threat perception from cybercrime and assume them to be insulated, until one fine day they become victim of some cybercrime activity. Hence, creating awareness and setting up a proper control mechanism at individual as well as organisational level should be the first step towards reduction in the cybercrime related activities. Secondly, government and agencies across the world should come together to draft a common law to tackle any criminal activity related to cybercrime, this will help in reducing the time consumer for investigation and will also create a sense of fear in minds of cybercriminals.
Anderson, R., Barton, C., Böhme, R., Clayton, R., van Eeten, M., Levi, M., ... & Savage, S. (2012, June). Measuring the Cost of Cybercrime. In WEIS.
Australia, C. E. R. T. (2012). Cyber Crime & Security Survey Report 2012.
Brahme, A. M., & Joshi, S. B. (2013). A review of cyber crime: An ever growing threat and its influence on society & IT sector. International Journal of Managment, IT and Engineering, 3(7), 534-545.
Broadhurst, R., & Choo, K. K. R. (2011). Cybercrime and Online Safety in Cyberspace (Doctoral dissertation, Routledge).
Filshtinskiy, S. (2013). Cybercrime, cyberweapons, cyber wars: is there too much of it in the air?. Communications of the ACM, 56(6), 28-30.
Herley, C. (2014). Security, cybercrime, and scale. Communications of the ACM, 57(9), 64-71.
Hyman, P. (2013). Cybercrime: it's serious, but exactly how serious?. Communications of the ACM, 56(3), 18-20.
Levin, A., & Ilkina, D. (2013). International Comparison of Cyber Crime.
Loader, B. D., & Thomas, D. (2013). Cybercrime: Security and Surveillance in the Information Age. Kindle Edition.
Maheshwari, H., Hyman, H. S., & Agrawal, M. (2011). A Comparison of Cyber-Crime Definitions in India and the United States.
McGee, J. A., & Byington, J. R. (2013). How to Counter Cybercrime Intrusions. Journal of Corporate Accounting & Finance, 24(5), 45-49.
Ngo, F. T., & Paternoster, R. (2011). Cybercrime victimization: An examination of individual and situational level factors. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 5(1), 773-793.
Reyes, A., Brittson, R., O'Shea, K., & Steele, J. (2011). Cyber crime investigations: bridging the gaps between security professionals, law enforcement, and prosecutors. Syngress.
Shrivastav, A. K. (2013). ICT Penetration and Cybercrime in India: A Review. International Journal of Advanced Research in Computer Science and Software Engineering.
Yar, M. (2013). Cybercrime and society. Sage.
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