Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Cyber Crime and the People Who Stop It

One of the more fascinating fields within criminal justice is cyber crime. A relatively modern area of law enforcement, cyber crime has to do with criminal activity that takes place using the Internet, computers or other electronic means.

So what are some examples of cyber crime? Individuals who sell counterfeit drugs using the Internet; online purveyors of child pornography; people who deliver death threats or threats of harm to others via e-mail; and people who use computer programs to embezzle money into private accounts have all committed cyber crimes, including fraud, terroristic threat, promotion of child pornography and theft. Remember the Melissa virus? Another well-known cyber crime is creating and disseminating destructive computer viruses with the intent to cause damage.

While these crimes will only become more prevalent as technology seeps into every area of life, methods of preventing and solving even the most complex cyber crimes have also become more prevalent. Institutions of higher education that offer criminal justice degrees are increasingly providing courses and even specializations in cyber crime. More and more state and local law enforcement agencies are not only creating task forces specifically to address cyber crime, but they are also training their personnel more thoroughly in how to investigate cyber crimes. The Los Angeles Police Department, for instance, has a Computer Crimes Unit within the department to combat computer fraud, among other tech crimes.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) even has a cyber crime division, the mission of which includes preventing hackers from accessing sensitive government information; preventing the spread of malicious code; finding and stopping online sexual predators from exploiting children through pornography; and breaking up organized crime enterprises that engage in online fraud.

The federal government also provides helpful information for people who are victims of theft of intellectual property or trade secrets online. The site stopfakes.gov tells individuals and businesses how to register for patents, copyrights and trademarks; protect their IP address; keep their intellectual property safe overseas; and what to do if their right to keep their intellectual property and trade secrets has been violated.

The U.S. Department of Justice also maintains a comprehensive online resource of the places people should turn if they are victims of various cyber crimes or simply want to report crimes such as hacking, Internet harassment, password trafficking or child pornography.

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