Cyber crime is the crime directed against individuals, groups or organizations using modern telecommunication tools as the means. The Internet and the mobile phones has become core to communication and business transactions. Their extensive use makes them an easy target for people who would wish to advance malicious motives against the Internet and mobile phone users. Cyber crime entails gaining unauthorized access to private or institutional data or illegally altering it. It also involves sharing of scandalous information via the Internet in order to perpetuate political or social goals, and this results in infringement of another party’s constitutional or human rights. Cyber crime directed against individuals is as unlawful as cyber terrorism, whose target is organizations and governments. However, it is my opinion that cyber terrorism constitutes a greater threat to the nation than cyber crime directed against individuals.
Cyber terrorism is coercing a government or organization to conform to certain political or social ideologies or interests by blackmailing them through computers, communication networks and the information stored therein (O’Connor, 20120). Cyber terrorism includes cross-border crimes such as financial theft and espionage. Putting scandalous information or threats in the public domain also constitutes cyber terrorism. This may lead to the disruption of normal operations of a government or institution so as to force it to comply with the criminal’s demands. Cyber terrorists may also gain unauthorized access to restricted data. They may interfere with highly sensitive processes such as the electricity supply of a city or even a whole country.
Moreover, cyber extortionists may cause connectivity problems within organizations, paralyzing all their activities and demanding handsome sums of money to alleviate the problem.
Cyber crime against individuals is a reality many people have met face to face. It presents child pornography, hacking into personal accounts, child grooming and the use of other social media to perpetrate malice against individuals. Burglars have been able to predict when their victims will be away from home through their Facebook pages. Other criminals have been able to deceive unsuspecting mobile phone subscribers and undertake fraudulent monetary transactions.
Cyber crime that is directed against individuals could lead to the loss of their dignity, money, job or even life. As such, it is a serious concern. However, cyber terrorism could accomplish much more harm than individualized cyber crime. In 2000, an unknown individual hacked into the databases of the control system of an Australian waste management firm, prompting the release of millions of liters of untreated sewage into a town (Elmusharaf, Mukhtar Mudawi, 2012). This gives an insight into the extent of damage that cyber terrorists can cause. Cyber terrorists are capable of interfering with vital national processes, and they can work thousands of miles away, which makes them more difficult to trace than cyber criminals who target individuals.
The US government has formulated measures to deal with cyber crime. Such measures include making appropriate legislation, establishing departments that research on and advice the government on related issues and working with academic institutions to find lasting solutions. However, this fight faces many hurdles with lack of international legislation and goodwill being most prominent. In my view, the US government is trying hard enough, but exceeding fortunes will continue to be lost to cyber crimes until there is enough concerted international effort to fight the vice.