As technology develops so does cybercrime. Cybercrime is not a precise technical or legal term, but when the term is used it involves the use of digital technologies in the commission of an offence, or is directed at computing and communications technologies themselves, or is incidental to the commission of other crimes.
In the publication of Criminal Law and Cyberspace and a Challenge for Legal Research (2012) the B-J Koops says:
Cyberspace should interest everyone who is involved in criminal law. The classic view of cybercrime, centred on the lonesome, nerdy hacker, is largely based on fiction, a fiction from the 1980s and 1990s. Reality has changed dramatically, causing a step change in cybercrime and its consequences for the ‘real world’. Cybercrime is no longer about peer reputation among whiz kids, it’s all about money - big money. A considerable black market caters for all kinds of criminals, where you can buy a bunch of credit-card numbers (including coded on the back) for a couple of dollars, or rent a network of zombie computers for an hour to spread your spam or block your favourite villain’s website. Moreover, as the internet integrates seamlessly into our economy, politics and social life, any attack on or from cyberspace is an attack on the real world. Cyber crime is real crime, and increasingly, real crime has a cyber-element to it.
Cybercrime is boundless, it can occur from any where from the person in the next room, or building or in another jurisdiction outside of the country. Cybercrime has no limits as to where it comes from and where it will end.
There are various key features that make cybercrime difficult to stop. Some of these concerns include:
The enormous size of the internet;
Accessibility, as any one can communicate by the internet;
Anonymity, as a user can be anonymous through the use of proxy servers, spoofed email or hidden IP addresses, encryption, and just plain lying in communication;
Portability and transferability, as access to the internet can occur anywhere on a small mobile device to a standard PC;
Global reach is unlimited; absence of capable guardians to manage the online environment;
Finally, the cyber environment is technically out of control as there is no one unified government body that controls the online environment whether being the surface or the dark web.
In the publication of SW Brenner, ‘Cybercrime Investigations and Prosecutions: The Role of Penal and Procedural Law ’ Brenner says:
It would, for example, be possible to commit homicide by hacking into the computer system of a hospital and altering the records establishing the type and dosage of medication a patient is to receive so that the patient actually receives a lethal dose of medication. This is a traditional offence - murder - being committed in a non-traditional fashion, by a perpetrator who may be hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the victim at the time of death occurs. As such, it is certainly an example of a ‘remote perpetrator’ scenario…”
Australia has enacted legislation to prevent unauthorised access to data. Under the Criminal Code Act 1995 section 477.1 (Cth), unauthorised access, modification or impairment with intent to commit a serious offence carries an imprisonment term of five years or more. The States have also enabled legislation to compliment the Commonwealth legislation.
In New South Wales under the Crimes Act 1900 section 308C, unauthorised access, modification or impairment with intent to commit serious indictable offence, carries an imprisonment term of five years or more, and section 308H unauthorised access to or modification of restricted data, has an imprisonment term of two years.
In Victoria under the Crimes Act 1958 section 247B, unauthorised access, modification or impairment with intent to commit serious offence, carries an imprisonment term of five years or more, and section 247G, unauthorised access to or modification of restricted data, has an imprisonment term of two years.
The greatest risk of cybercrime is the fact that there is no limits as to what could occur, and there is no guarantee of protection from the effects of such criminal activity.
Cybercrime is a growing threat to the Australian people and the business community, and no one country alone can resolve this problem, it will require a united front across the globe to stop cybercrime.
The comments in the aforementioned do not constitute legal advice and are general in nature, and if legal advice is required please contact: John Melis at Legal AU Pty Ltd (03) 9999 7799 www.legalau.com
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