All criminal activities involving the medium of computers, communications devices, networking, internet, world wide web and cyberspace, are ,commonly referred as cybercrime. The computer or communication device may have been used as-
(a) The object of the crime (hacking, phishing, spamming), or
(b) A tool to commit an offense (child pornography, hate crimes); or
(c)To access & store personal information, trade secrets or other exploitative/malicious purposes.
Cyber Security- means protecting information, equipment, devices, computer, computer resource, communication device and information stored therein from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction. [Sec. 2(1)(na), IT Act 2000]
- Crimes targeting computer systems:
- Hacking- It is a broad term which can be defined as gaining entry into a computer system without permission, with an intention to cause loss, steal, or destroy the data contained in it. It is done by acquiring sensitive information (usernames, passwords, IP addresses etc.) and exploiting them to access and/ or control the computer system.
Hackers use various applications or programs that can breach defense mechanisms of the target computer system and send back critical information like- configuration, usernames, IP addresses, MAC addresses etc., which can be used to gain entry into the system. Such applications may be in the form of trojans, malware, worms or viruses, which will install in the targeted system and compromise its security. After entering into the computer system, the hacker can gain administrative rights and can do anything with the data contained or can infect and destroy other systems, using the target system. [Sec. 66 ITAA 2008]
- Denial or Disrupted Denial-of-Service(DDoS)- In this kind of attack, an important service offered by a Website or a server is denied or disrupted, causing loss to the intended users of the service. Typically, the loss of service is the inability of a particular network service, such as e-mail, to be available or the temporary loss of all network connectivity and services. In some cases, this has even forced the Websites to cease operation. [Sec. 66 ITAA 2008]
A DoS attack usually involves sending large amount of traffic using multiple systems, to the targeted network or server so that it occupies the entire bandwidth of the system and ultimately results in a crash. ICMP flooding, teardrop attacks, peer-to-peer attacks, application level flooding, etc. are a few examples of DDoS attacks.
- Spreading viruses and malware- This is the biggest cyber crime reported today. These can be generic or targeted to a specific computer system. Injecting and spreading malicious code can also come in the forms of viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, adware, and rootkits. These get installed secretly in the victim’s computer system and can be used to access and transmit sensitive information about the system. In some cases, the infected systems can also be used as tools to commit other types of cyber crimes like- wage war against the state or strike terror among the people. Ransomware is a malware that takes control of a system and blocks access to its data unless a ransom is paid to the attacker. [Sec. 66 & 66F of ITAA, 2008]
- Website defacement- It is an attack which changes visual appearance of a website and the attacker may post some undesirable, indecent, hostile or obscene images, messages or videos. Sometimes, he may also make the website completely dysfunctional. It is often done by hacker of one country to the websites of the rival countries to display their technology superiority and infecting them with malware. [sec. 66 & 66F ITAA 2008]
- Cyber Terrorism- now a days, terrorists, are using state-of-the art technologies like- satellite phones, encryption of messages and use of the dark-net, for raising funds, conducting recruitment or organizing their activities. In the cyberspace, they may also resort to large scale disruption of computer networks/websites, and attack other critical infrastructural facilities governed by the computer resources. In all these instances, digital evidences might be present in the computer systems and computer resources in the form of e-mails, web addresses, encrypted messages, photographs and videos, etc. [Sec. 66F of ITAA 2008]
- Spoofing- It is the most common method of network attacks. The attacker masquerades the data packets, IP addresses, MAC addresses and e-mail addresses etc. to create an impression that they are originating from somebody else’s addresses. [Sec. 66A, 66D of ITAA 2008]
- Skimming- It is a kind of SIM/Credit cards fraud in which a handheld device (skimmer) is used to capture the information contained in the chip. Later on, the data like- name, credit card number, expiry date etc., is transferred to a computer system and used for unlawful gains or to create fake credit cards. [Sec. 66C &66D of ITAA 2008]
- Bugging- It is to install a secret listening device in a physical space (like- cabin/room etc.)or a secret software in a mobile set to gain access to all the verbal communication of the target.
- Spamming- Spamming is an act of sending unsolicited and junk e-mails or messages by anyone for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience. [ Sec. 66A of ITAA 2008]
- Phishing/Pharming- Usually through spoof mails, phishing directs the victim to fake websites, or deceives them otherwise to divulge personal/business details. Pharming is a type of attack in which the user is deceived to enter sensitive data like- credit card, passwords or PIN, on a fake websites, which impersonates to be a genuine one. It is different from Phishing as the attacker need not rely on any of the URL or link. Rather, he redirects the website traffic from a legitimate website to a fake one. [Sec. 66C, 66D of ITAA 2008]
Types of Crimes where computer systems are used as a tool Read More: