Growth of cybercrime

In this essay, I will be looking at the Computer Misuse Act 1990, the effects of cybercrime, how cybercrime can be prevented and I will be discussing some real life stories that have been caused by cybercrime. ICT has developed dramatically over the last few years. Computers and the internet have now become a personal essential with almost 800 million computers in the UK. Internet facilities have also being developing over the recent years. At large the development of ICT has mainly had a positive effect on society; however, the development of ICT also has a negative side.

As ICT has been developing, so has Cyber Crime. In 1990, the government enforced the Computer Misuse Act 1990. This meant that any one who: * Planted or transferred viruses onto computers systems with malicious intent (e. g. causing serious damage to software/ programs/ data… ) Although the Computer Misuse Act 1990 is in place, there is a vast amount of cyber criminals out there who don't take any notice and are prepared to take the risk of being found guilty and sentenced. The above information was obtained from (Doyle, 2008) Cybercrime has recently become one of the top UK threats.

(News, Cyber Attacks and Terrorism head threats facing UK, 2010) The most common form of cyber crime is theft (Prazmilanisty, 2010). More and more people are purchasing on-line and entering their card details. Hackers can then gain access to these details through a number of methods. The most common method is spyware. A person will receive an e-mail with an attachment. This e-mail will usually look quite genuine. In most cases, the attachment will contain spyware which will be disguised as a word document…

Once this spyware has been installed on the computer, the hacker who sent the e-mail will be able to see all the keystrokes that have been entered, all the websites that have been visited… The hacker will be able to see the person's credit card details just by checking out the key strokes (providing this person has entered them on the keyboard). Another common method of hackers obtaining bank details is yet again e-mails. However, instead of trying to get the recipient to download/install the spyware, they will send an e-mail that looks like it has came from their bank.

Hackers will do everything to make sure this e-mail looks 100% genuine. This e-mail will then state that the recipient needs to enter their bank details into the link provided as the bank has made some changes to their account. Unfortunately, a majority of people willingly enter their precious card details into these 'websites' without realising what they really are. Although this form of cyber crime can not be stopped, people can take some simple actions in order to try and prevent themselves from being a victim of cybercrime.

First of all, they should have anti-virus software, this will prevent numerous viruses from accessing your computer, and most of them will also prevent spyware. Secondly, when receiving an e-mail, people ought to check if they know the sender. If they don't then they should instantly be suspicious. Secondly, check the contents of the e-mail, and, if an attachment is in the e-mail, they should try to avoid opening it. However, if they feel they must open it, then they should scan it with anti-virus software, this should highlight any potential threats within the attachment.

Thirdly, if an e-mail is received requesting bank details, they should check that their name is at the top of the e-mail, if it isn't then this usually means the e-mail isn't legit. If the e-mail asks the person to enter their details on a website of which the link is provide, check the URL to see if it matches the official website (this can be found on Google or on any documents that have been received from the organisation), and also check that there is a padlock at the bottom left hand side of the internet page. If there is one their then it means its safe.

Finally, if the person still doubts the authenticity of an e-mail, they should contact the organisation the e-mails claims to have come from to see whether or not it is genuine. Over recent years, the amount of people who use social network has increased dramatically. The most popular of them all is Facebook which has an estimated 500 million user's world wide. However, not everyone who uses it is who they say they are. As a member of Facebook myself I am aware that it clearly states you must be 16 or over to become a member, however, it is clear that there is a huge number of children under the age of 16 using Facebook.

This makes Facebook an ideal place for paedophiles to find their next victims. With Facebook, there is no method of certifying who a person claims to be. Over recent years, more and more cases of children being abused both sexually and physically by people they have met on Facebook have appeared. What tends to happen is the paedophiles create a profile on Facebook claiming to be a child themselves; they then add other children and 'befriend' them. Once they have done this, they arrange to meet up with the child.

(News, Facebook and Bebo child sex abuse postman jailed, 2010)In some extreme cases children have been murdered. (News, Facebook murderer to serve at least 35 years, 2010). Last November, 17 year old Ashleigh Hall agreed to meet up with a young teenager of whom went under the name Peter Cartwright. However, 'Peter Cartwright' was in fact Peter Chapman; a convicted sex offender. He added Ashleigh on Facebook in October 2009, he eventually befriended Ashleigh and they arranged to meet up in November.

Peter Chapman had told Ashleigh that his dad would be picking him up; Ashleigh told her mum that she was staying with a friend. Eventually Peter Chapman collected Ashleigh, he was posing as Peter Cartwright's dad. Later that evening, he raped her and then suffocated her to death. Peter Chapman then ditched her body by a fence on Old Stockton Road. Even though Facebook has recently added a panic button of which anyone can activate if they feel someone is posing a threat to them, children still continue to use Facebook as well as paedophiles.

All though most parents have banned their children from using Facebook, many children continue to use it even without their parents' permission; the children are completely oblivious to the risks Facebook poses. One thing parents can do to help protect their children from the dangers of using Facebook is they can block the website on their computer so that when the URL for Facebook is entered, the URL won't open. Parents should also make their children aware of the dangers of using Facebook. Doing can help make children safe when going on-line. Another risk of using Facebook is identity theft.

(Is facebook identity theft possible? , 2010)Users have the option to add information to their profile such as their home town, previous places of education, place of work, relationship status, siblings… Most users of Facebook happily place this information on their profile. Although most users will change their profile settings so that only people on their friends list can view the information, they are not completely safe from identity thieves. This is because the identity thieves could create a separate Facebook account and add them on Facebook.

Even though the person may not know the person who the identity thief is claiming to be, the fact is they will probably accept anyway as most people on Facebook do accept friend requests from strangers in a bid to look popular; in some cases, people become so desperate to have a large friends list, they will buy Facebook friends from websites. (Facebook users 'buying fake friends', 2010). Once the thieves have hold of these details, it becomes extremely easy for someone to impersonate that person.

This means they have the potential to get their bank details, change their bank details, get utility bills… One woman; Victoria Sennitt, from South West London had provided a lot of personal information on her profile such as her phone number, home town, e-mail… An identity thief then got hold of these details and set up a mobile phone contract using Victoria's details. It was only when Victoria received a letter in the post about a new mobile contract; under her name and containing all her personal details that she realised what had happened.

Although this is less severe case of identity theft when compared to some cases, a highly experienced identity thief could easily of got Victoria's bank details… using the information the had listed on her profile. (My identity was stolen on Facebook, 2007) Although this is an old story, the method behind retrieving the person details is still the same today. People should either stop using Facebook or hold back on the information they give on their profile. Doing this could potentially save them a lot of hassle and reduce the risk of having their identity stolen.

Overall I believe cybercrime has a huge effect on society and that the punishments for committing cybercrime are not severe enough. Also, Cybercrime has a huge effect on society and there is still lots left to be done to try and reduce the level of cybercrime that goes on.


  • Doyle, S. (2008). Essential ICT for AQA. Dublin: Foelns Publishers. Facebook users 'buying fake friends'. (2010, January 08).
  • Retrieved from The telegraph: http://www. telegraph. co. uk/technology/6950039/Facebook-users-buying-fake-friends. html Is facebook identity theft possible? (2010, November).
  • Retrieved from Combat Identity Theft: http://www. combat-identity-theft. com/facebook-identity-theft. html My identity was stolen on Facebook. (2007, July 27).
  • Retrieved from Mail Online: http://www. dailymail. co. uk/femail/article-471321/My-identity-stolen-Facebook. html News, B. (2010, October 18).
  • Cyber Attacks and Terrorism head threats facing UK. Retrieved from BBC News: http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/uk-11562969 News, B. (2010, September 18). Facebook and Bebo child sex abuse postman jailed. Retrieved from BBC News: