Understanding the Different Types of Internet Crimes

In the Age of the Internet, cybercrimes are committed at a staggering rate. Some internet crimes can be seemingly harmless, while others can hurt you or your organization immensely. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the different types of internet crimes and act fast when an internet crime occurs so that your network, equipment, and private information remain safely protected.

What Is Internet Crime?

Internet crime, sometimes called cybercrime or online crime, encompasses any criminal activity carried out on the computer or via the internet. Committing an internet crime or being targeted by one can have serious consequences.

Cybercrimes commonly fall into one of three categories:

  1. Crimes Against People – Crimes that impact an individual, including stalking, identity theft, online harassment, and more.
  2. Crimes Against Property – These crimes impact an object or piece of property, such as servers or computers. Crimes against property include hacking, virus transmission, copyright infringement, and more.
  3. Crimes Against Government – These are virtual crimes that violate a nation’s sovereignty, such as cyberterrorism, online piracy, hacking confidential information, and more.

Although the three categories of internet crimes listed above give an overarching description of the infraction, there are many subcategories of cybercrimes to be aware of. Below, we explore various internet crimes that can impact you, your loved ones, or your organization at any time.

Understanding 12 Different Types of Internet Crimes

It’s important to understand the various types of internet crime out there to protect yourself or your organization from an attack. Let’s look at the most common kinds of cybercrime committed today:

1. Phishing

You’ve probably already heard of phishing, as it is one of the most prevalent kinds of online scams seen across the internet since its inception. Phishing is a method hackers use to “fish” for your personal information disguised as a legitimate business. For example, they might say your account has been compromised, you’ve won a prize, or they offer another lie in exchange for your private information.

In phishing, scammers send out fake links asking for confidential details. These links typically come through your e-mail or cell phone as a text message or sometimes even as a phone call. Unfortunately, phishing scams can look very convincing. Phishing scams might as you to disclose confidential information, such as:

  • Bank Account Information
  • Social Security Number
  • Credit Card Number
  • Online Passwords
  • Personal Identification Number (PIN)

If you see a suspicious link in your inbox, do your due diligence. Make sure to check out who sent the e-mail or message. Most often, phishing emails are a dead giveaway that something is off and you shouldn’t share any information with the sender. 

2. Online Scams

Just like phishing, online scams aim to gain access to your personal information. Pop-up ads, professional-looking e-mails, online contests, and other seemingly innocuous online scams can target you and take your information for personal gain. Again, never input any intimate details into an unknown website or a reply e-mail to avoid being hurt by an online scam.

3. Social Media Hacking

Social media hacking occurs when someone gains access to your personal social media accounts. Sometimes, social media hacks can be completely harmless. Other times, it can potentially destroy a person’s life, causing them to lose work and sleep, or worse. Just look at all the celebrities who have been victims of social media hacks that revealed private, sexually explicit images without their permission.

4. Malware

When a piece of software is coded with the intent to cause harm to your data and devices, it is considered malware. Contracting malware or malicious software can damage devices like computers, tablets, and phones. Plus, culprits can gain access to personal information like your credit card details. Malware describes a few different types of online viruses, including:

  • Trojan Horses
  • Spyware
  • Ransomware
  • Adware
  • Bots
  • Rootkits
  • Keyloggers
  • Logic Bombs

5. Ransomware

Although ransomware is a form of malicious software itself, this virus deserves its own spot on the list. Ransomware attacks are part of internet crimes affecting many large, global corporations. Ransomware is a virus that encrypts data and files after entering your network so that you can’t access them.

Typically, ransomware attackers demand a large amount of money to retrieve encrypted data. It’s a simple yet effective way for cybercriminals to make a quick buck off organizations with substantial financial assets.

6. Child Soliciting, Abuse, and Exploitation

Unfortunately, child abuse and exploitation are all too common on the internet. Between grooming in virtual communities, human trafficking, and the dissemination of child pornography, the cybercrimes units at state and federal levels have plenty of problems to track down online.

In Minnesota, the possession of child pornography comes with a five-year prison sentence and $5,000 in fines per photo. Those numbers increase to seven years and $10,000 per picture when the images are sold.

7. Cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is just like real-life stalking, except it happens via the internet. Cyberstalking can include any behaviors that utilize technology to threaten, extort, harass, or menace a person online in a constant or consistent manner. Stalking of any kind, including cyberstalking, is one of the classic warning signs of an abusive relationship.

8. Cyberbullying

Another hot-button issue is cyberbullying, while traditional in-person bullying has taken a back seat. Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to threaten, intimidate, or harass a person and is punishable by law, especially if it leads to self-inflicted harm by the victim. There have been several big news stories concerning cyberbullying in recent years and federal programs to prevent the perpetuation of cyberbullying.

9. Cyberterrorism

According to the FBI, cyberterrorism is any premeditated and politically motivated attack on information, computer programs, systems, or data resulting in violence or harm against non-combatant targets. Cyberterrorism can be carried out by sub-national groups or clandestine agents. Examples of cyberterrorism include attacks that lead to:

  • Bodily Harm
  • Death
  • Explosions
  • Plane Crashes
  • Water Contamination
  • Severe Economic Loss

10. Identity Theft

Identity theft is another common form of internet crime, primarily aiming to purport fraud for financial gain. Cybercriminals often steal the identifying information of others, including credit card numbers, e-mail or home addresses, passwords, social security numbers, and more. 

Unfortunately, unsuspecting and vulnerable individuals such as the elderly are often targets of identity theft. Accused individuals often seek out an internet crime attorney or find theft lawyers for help litigating their crimes.

11. Online Piracy

Online piracy is the act of downloading or distributing copyrighted material or intellectual property without providing payment. In simple terms, internet users can “pirate” or essentially steal streamable content with unlimited playback. 

Online piracy is a prevalent problem, especially when it comes to downloading movies, TV shows, and music. Pirating these files is a direct violation of federal copyright laws and can result in steep fines and even jail time.

12. Copyright Infringement

Congress passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) in 1998 to protect people’s copyrighted and intellectual property on the internet. The DMCA has three primary purposes:

  • Establishing protections for online service providers whose users commit copyright infringement, including the creation of a notice-and-takedown system to inform users
  • Encouraging copyright holders to provide greater access to digital works by protecting against the unauthorized and unlawful use of their works
  • Making it unlawful for individuals and entities to provide false or misleading copyright management information.

Copyright infringement can result in civil and criminal penalties, including fines ranging from $200 to $150,000. 

Get Professional Help to Handle an Internet Crime Case

Whether you’ve been accused of committing a cybercrime or the effects of an internet crime have adversely impacted you, you’re going to need help navigating the legal system. Work with a dedicated attorney who has experience prosecuting and defending different types of internet crimes. Contact CJB Law today to speak with a knowledgeable internet crime lawyer about your individual circumstances and start the fight against your cybercrime charges.