cybercrime | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction / Criminal Law

Cybercrime is crime conducted over the internet or other computer network.

Cybercrime is a term that refers to illegal activities that are carried out through the use of computer networks or the Internet. These crimes can take many forms, including hacking, identity theft, fraud, cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and the distribution of malware, viruses, and other malicious software.

The rise of the internet and digital technologies has created new opportunities for criminal activity, with cybercriminals exploiting vulnerabilities in software and hardware to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, steal personal information, and disrupt critical infrastructure. Cybercrime is a complex and rapidly evolving phenomenon, with new threats emerging all the time as criminals find new ways to exploit technology for illicit purposes.

One of the challenges of combating cybercrime is that it often involves criminal activity that crosses national borders. This means that law enforcement agencies must work together across international jurisdictions to investigate and prosecute these crimes. Additionally, cybercrime is often committed by sophisticated criminal networks or state-sponsored actors, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to track down and apprehend the perpetrators.

Substantive criminal law applies to the actual conduct that is prohibited by law, as well as the punishments that can be imposed for violating those laws. In the context of cybercrime, substantive criminal law might include statutes that prohibit unauthorized access to computer systems, the theft of sensitive data, or the distribution of malware. These laws are designed to provide a framework for prosecuting cybercriminals and to deter individuals from engaging in criminal activity online.

Procedural criminal law, on the other hand, relates to the rules and procedures that govern the investigation, prosecution, and punishment of criminal offenses. In the context of cybercrime, procedural criminal law might include rules for obtaining warrants to search computer systems, procedures for collecting and analyzing digital evidence, and guidelines for sentencing cybercriminals.

Because of the unique nature of cybercrime, there are often additional procedural issues that arise in the investigation and prosecution of these offenses. For example, cybercrime investigations may require specialized knowledge and expertise, including the ability to analyze complex digital networks and data storage systems. Additionally, prosecutors may need to work with internet service providers and other technology companies to collect evidence and track down suspects.

In recent years, governments around the world have been working to strengthen their laws and law enforcement capabilities to combat cybercrime. This includes efforts to establish international agreements and protocols for the investigation and prosecution of cybercrime, as well as investments in new technologies and personnel to help detect and prevent cybercrime. Despite these efforts, however, cybercrime remains a major challenge for law enforcement agencies and governments around the world.

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Last Modified: 04/09/2023


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