What are Computer Crimes? – 5 Types of White Collar Digital Tech Crime

Computers are a part of our daily lives, that is just a simple fact of life nowadays. We shop, socially engage, and do business through technology.

What we say and do on our personal technology devices is private and not often thought to be paid any attention to. Still, big brother is watching and listening to Internet traffic to catch what they determine as a computer crime.

Those crimes in which information technology is used to gain access without permission and with the sole purpose of destroying or deleting computer data and electronic fraud and device misuse include:


Hacking

One of the more famous types of computer crimes is hacking. It describes any activity that seeks to compromise computers, smartphones, tablets, or entire networks, usually done for financial gain, corporate espionage, and national intelligence.

It is a characterized umbrella term for activity behind most malware and malicious cyberattacks on the computing public, businesses, and governments. Users have a few techniques to "hack," such as Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS), Viruses, Ransomware, Worms, and Trojans.

Hacking has evolved into a billion-dollar empire compared to its early stages of being considered something only done by many dorky teenagers. One of the more famous hacking cases occurred right here in Baltimore when a Ransomware attack hit the city's government.

In May of 2019, the attackers effectively shut down most of the city's servers and demanded tens of thousands of dollars for the so-called "key" to unlock the servers. Baltimore did not pay the ransom and recovered the systems affected, but the city estimated the total cost for the attack at $18.2 million. The attackers have not been apprehended or identified to this date.

Hacking is one of the most challenging computer crimes to locate and apprehend the individuals responsible as they leave "breadcrumbs," leading authorities to unwarranted accusations against innocent bystanders. A good defense team considers that scapegoats are often played as the attacker when someone random the attacker has set up.

Phishing

The name comes from the resemblance this scam has to actual fishing. Like throwing a fishing line with "bait" into the water to deceive fish, "phishing" tricks people into sharing sensitive information such as passwords, social security numbers, or credit card numbers.

An example of phishing happens when someone sends an email that appears to be from a legit organization with a message that asks them to visit a site from a link provided in the email where they enter their info to be stolen by the attacker.

Phishing represents the simplest yet dangerous and most influential of computer crimes. Phishing scams allow for the attacker to steal identities, sell that info on the black market as well as empty bank accounts.

Little technical know-how goes into phishing, the main reason the scam is so prevalent. Why "hack" through security layers when you can trick someone into giving you the information.

Just recently, Maryland State Police dealt with a phishing scam involving gun dealers. In August of 2020, authorities notified gun dealers of an email phishing scam that made the emails appear to be from the state police's licensing division. It contained a virus that could have wreaked havoc on the gun dealership network had the police not been ahead of the attackers' game.

Law enforcement is ever vigilant in the pursuit of today's digital crimes. A great criminal defense attorney is hypervigilant in their pursuit of the truth regarding computer crimes allegations.

Computer Viruses

Computer viruses are like human viruses. COVID-19 takes the interaction between two people such as a handshake, hug, kiss, sneeze, cough, or touching something an infected person felt to transmit from one to another. Once inside, COVID-19 attaches to healthy cells to create more COVID-19 virus cells.

Computer viruses operate in a similar fashion as they need a host, user action/interaction, and replace good code with harmful code. A computer virus cannot spread unless action is taken like opening an email with an infected Word document attached; once opened, the virus becomes "active."

Once upon a time, computer viruses were the number one crime and threat to your computer's health, but destroying data is not profitable for hackers today. Stealing that data, though, is a very lucrative business.

Nowadays, we have software on our computers, phones, and tablets to protect them against computer viruses, such as McAfee, Norton, and Malwarebytes, to name a few. Viruses are still prevalent and dangerous, just no longer a headline grabber as technology to fight against them gets better and better.

A solid defense attorney will dutifully safeguard against accusations of any computer crime. Do not let a charge scare you. JC Law has helped many clients deal with technology transgressions with the best outcome possible.

Cyberstalking

It is an extension of the physical act of stalking someone. These actions move from the physical world to the digital realm. Cyberstalking uses email, the Internet, or another telecommunication technology to stalk and harass another.

Often using lewd, disturbing, and inappropriate content in the harassment, the contact will not stop even after being asked to do so. With the enormity of personal information available, a cyberstalker can quickly locate that info to find potential new victims with just a few keystrokes.

Cyberstalking does not involve physical contact creates a misperception as less threatening or less dangerous than physical stalking, but Cyberstalking is just as dangerous. The goal is to traumatize the victim in both instances.

An Anne Arundel man cyberstalking his ex-girlfriend was sentenced to 4 years in prison. He intentionally sent himself harassing texts and emails from her account after hacking her accounts. The man went so far as to get a protective order against her and have her arrested and jailed. He was essentially weaponizing the court system to get back at her.

JC Law understands law enforcement's eagerness to press charges against an individual they believe committed a computer crime but knows that appearances are not the whole story.

Identity Theft

The most profitable form of computer crime as identities can be bought and sold on the Dark Web and used to open credit cards and drain bank accounts. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another's personal information to assume that identity or access their accounts for committing fraud, receiving benefits, or other financial gains.

Identity theft comes in many forms, such as credit identity theft, tax identity theft, child identity theft, medical identity theft, and criminal identity theft. Being a part of a data breach at a large company likely means personal information has been stolen but in massive numbers. The top way hackers gain access to confidential information is through data breaches.

An incredible amount of stolen identities have been used in Maryland to commit unemployment fraud during the COVID-19 pandemic. They caught over $501 million in fraudulent unemployment claims due to an identity theft scheme in July 2020. The identities were acquired through a significant data breach and used to file 47,500 false claims.

The investigation into these identity theft cases continues as many computer crimes are scapegoated to innocent victims. A defense team can bring all the facts to the table to present all the story's sides.

As technology continues to advance, so does computer crime. Although computer crime encompasses hacking, phishing, computer viruses, cyberstalking, and identity theft, many facets are not covered because the alleged crime took place over the Internet. Explicitly speaking, cybercrimes, a topic for another blog. Stay tuned to learn more.

JC Law takes the time and expertise needed to handle all kinds of digital transgressions to get the best possible outcome. Do not let the complexity of a digital accusation turn your head upside down. Talk with our defense team for a free initial consultation to learn how we can help you.

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