Categories of computer crime Essay - Essay Prowess

Categories of computer crime Essay


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Categories of computer crime


Crimes related to the computer have materialized into a novel category of crimes. As such, the Attorney’s Office for the United States created the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Section (CHIPS) for the prosecution of intellectual property and high technology crimes (Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). Computer crimes handled by CHIPS include telecommunications fraud, virus and worm propagation, denial of service attacks, computer intrusions and internet fraud. This essay seeks to critically look into the four categories of computer crimes, provide example for each category, determine which category presents the greatest contemporary threat and provide recommendations on how to specifically counter each of the categorized crimes.

Categories of computer crime

According to Douglas, Burgess and Burgess (2013), computer crimes are divided into four broad categories which include the computer as the target, the computer user as the target, criminal enterprise and internet initiated crimes.

  1. Computers as the principal targets

In this category, the computer is essentially the victim. In instances where computer components and peripheral devices are targets for a criminal offence such as computer software, hard drives or monitors, the US criminal justice system prosecutes these offences as theft and is therefore not considered as prime examples for this category. Crimes targeting computer users are include information contained in computers, software applied in computer operations and intellectual property data stored in a computer (Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). There are also software programs which have ideally been developed to distort the normal operations of a computer. These programs are referred to as malignant software and include computer virus and spyware.

Malignant Software

Malignant software present a prime example of crimes targeting a computer and are essentially introduced to cause harm in a computer(Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). In most circumstances malignant software such as viruses are delivered to a computer via the internet and are commonly found in emails and email attachments.

  1. Computer users as the intended targets

Fraud, stalking and identity theft are crimes that are essentially meant to target computer users (Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). Identity theft and fraud are basically crimes in which the offender has a sole aim of realizing some form of financial gain. In the case of stalking the offender essentially targets the user harassing him or her via internet chat rooms or emails.


This is regarded as an example of new form of identity theft via computers targeting user (Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). Through phishing offenders steal user personal details such as bank data via the internet by disguising themselves as legitimate vendors regularly used by the user.

  1. Criminal enterprise

A prime example of this category of crime is money laundering. This is an offense through which criminals are able to ensure that illegitimate funds appear legal (Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). For instance, in the US a computer programmer’s skills were solicited by criminals to make alterations in bank program codes to bypass banking guidelines calling for the FBI to be alerted once transactions involving organized crime accounts exceeded ten thousand dollars.

  1. Internet initiated crimes

In this category of computer crimes, offenders tend to make terrorist threats via the internet or in other instances offenders hack the internet to retrieve personal information of individuals who are unaware and later posting them on the internet (Douglas, Burgess & Burgess, 2013). This is by far one of the most serious computer crimes as it touches on the thorny issue of American national security which is at a heightened state since the 9/11 attacks.




Douglas, J. E., Burgess, A. W., & Burgess, A. G. (2013). Crime classification manual: A standard system for investigating and classifying violent crimes. New Jersey, NJ: Wiley and Sons.