These days, the most sophisticated crimes aren’t pulled off with coordinated planning and guns — they’re accomplished via a computer keyboard and the internet.
We’re talking about computer crimes. Computer crimes started to gain attention back in the 1980s as hackers became glorified in popular culture and movies. Many young computer users seemed to regard many computer crimes as either “no big deal” or just a game.
Well, the government doesn’t regard computer crimes as anything other than a crime. These days, the mere act of accessing a computer without authorization to download something like an academic journal can run afoul of the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and catch the attention of federal authorities.
Other types of computer crimes include:
1. Identity theft
Identity theft can range from stealing someone’s Social Security number and other personal information to accessing their bank account or credit to merely pretending to be someone on social media or email. Phishing, or deceiving people in order to gain their confidence or information, is common. So is spoofing, which the act of deceiving a computer system itself about your identity.
2. System damage
You can also be charged with a computer crime for creating or deliberately spreading any type of malware program that ultimately damages a computer system. For example, programs called Trojan horses, logic bombs, viruses and worms can all disrupt operations and lead to significant economic damages to a company.
3. Financial crimes
Computers are frequently used in sophisticated financial scams, including “salami-slicing,” or stealing a few cents from each financial transaction run through the system. Cyberterrorism, where a hacker holds a computer system hostage and won’t allow normal operations to continue until they’ve been paid the ransom they demand, is also a problem.
Even though computer crimes are typically nonviolent, they’re aggressively prosecuted by federal authorities. If you’ve been charged with any kind of white collar crime involving computers, don’t take chances with your future. Talk to an experienced defense attorney as soon as you can.