What is “cybercrime”?

In our ever developing technological society, when our daily lives involve us readily accessing the internet, much of our personal information and search history are stored and can be found at the click of a button. “Cybercrime” is understandably therefore, evolving and flourishing.

Cybercrime is essentially any crime that is conducted through or using an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) device such as a computer, tablet or mobile phone.  Cybercrime loosely falls into two categories; cyber-dependant or cyber-enabled crime.

Cyber-dependent crimes

These are crimes that can only be committed through the use of ICT devices.  The most common examples of this type of cybercrime are computer hacking and disruption of systems by introducing malware, such as spyware, or viruses, in order to steal money, goods, information or data, cause disruption or impact governmental or economic systems, or further political goals. A recent example of this is the alleged Russian hacking of computer systems in 2016, in order to influence the US elections and greater foreign policy.  These types of offence carry with them the possibility of serious penalties being imposed, such as lengthy custodial sentences and/or extradition in some instances.

Cyber-enabled crimes

These are crimes which can be carried out more effectively by the use of computers, including the following offences:

  • This includes the use of personal and financial data for fraudulent purposes, such as to purchase goods online.  This info can be obtained by setting up false social networking profiles from unsuspecting fellow users for financial gain.
  • This involves the distribution and sharing of pirated music, films or games for financial profit.
  • Cyber bullying, trolling and harassment and the sending of malicious and offensive communications, such as abusive messages or posts on social media websites. These offences have historically not been treated as seriously as equivalent offences committed offline.  There has been a big move recently reported in the media aiming to clamp down on such offences and bring attitudes and sentences in line with those equivalent offences committed offline.
  • Disclosing private sexual images without consent. These ‘revenge porn’ offences are being prosecuted more and more frequently and are taken very seriously by the courts.  These offences are either way offences which means that in serious cases, they can be sent up to the Crown Court to deal with.
  • Child sexual offences including online grooming, sending and possession of prohibited and indecent images of children.
  • Fraudulent trading online, such as the trading of cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, which can be used for money laundering purposes or can be traded fraudulently, as the sources of these currencies can be incredibly difficult to trace and regulate.

If you are under investigation for any offence relating to cybercrime, or face prosecution or extradition, our specialist solicitors and in-house barristers and advocates can help.  For more information about how we can help you, get in touch with your nearest branch of our Chambers, or contact us here.