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What common online actions constitute cybercrime?

Living in the digital age means there is no shortage of access to computers and the internet. The freedom to go online at any time from anywhere has created a false sense of security and entitlement for some individuals. People who use computers and other electronic devices and the internet maliciously and fraudulently commit cybercrimes. Due to the wide availability of internet access and network accessible devices, the frequency at which cybercrimes occur has skyrocketed. 

Some people are more tech-savvy than others and decide to use their skills for personal benefit. Other individuals may not realize their actions are wrong, which could lead to them receiving a cybercrime charge in addition to other criminal charges. Cybercrimes are federal offenses, and the penalties are severe. For individuals to better understand what is at stake with a conviction, here is a brief overview of some common types of cybercrimes

Stealing identities, material and sensitive information 

Identity theft is a criminal offense that involves taking names, Social Security numbers and other personal identification information and using it to open unauthorized accounts, make fraudulent purchases, create false identities and steal. Downloading copyright and trade materials, such as movies, programs and music, from peer-to-peer sites and other places online without permission is also a cyber theft crime that is a federal offense. 

Using malicious software and ransomware 

Many alleged cyber hackers use malicious software to gain unlawful access to their victims’ computers, networks and other devices that house private, protected and sensitive information. Some programs are not easily detectable, others may cause the devices and software of unsuspecting individuals to malfunction and strip them of access. 

Accessing other devices without authorization 

Accessing bank, social media and email accounts; networks; and other devices with the purpose of spying is hacking. Many people deem it acceptable to spy on their significant others, friends and other people without their permission as long as they do not steal or use their personal information or access for personal gain besides knowledge. However, hacking is illegal, regardless of intent, and is a punishable felony offense.

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