Cyber crimes are any undertakings that use the internet or other computer technology as a means of committing a crime. Interpol reports that cyber crimes have become an increasingly large issue in recent years as more people decide to use the anonymity of the internet to perpetrate their schemes. Social media and compromised business emails are just two of the most common pathways criminals are using to illegally access user data and gain confidential information about people all over the world, including their personal addresses, phone numbers, bank card numbers and financial account information.
While these crimes can have many different goals, the most common goal is financially based. According to the FBI, in 2014 alone, 124,684 complaints handled by the bureau’s Internet Crime Complaint Center resulted in reported losses of over $800 million dollars. Some of the most common schemes include extortion and intimidation scams, government impersonation email scams, auto fraud, real estate fraud and romance scams. Some of this information may be used within the states, but some may also be sold to other cyber criminals around the world who may use it for more serious attacks on the nation’s vital systems.
In other situations, the perpetrators simply wish to cause damage to computer systems by accessing data and implanting viruses or other harmful programs on peoples’ computer systems. The thrill of the act and bragging rights these people enjoy are enough of a reward for them to continue the practice. These instances are much less common than those driven by financial gain, but they do occur. In still other situations, companies are targeted for their proprietary information, including client lists, financial account information and other sensitive information. Competing businesses are often behind these crimes.