Whether ordering in online shops, booking your upcoming vacation, maintaining social contacts or managing your own finances – the possibilities of the internet are almost endless.
This ever-developing endless expanse found its beginnings in the USA as early as 1969 , when the forerunner of today’s Internet, the so-called Arpanet , was launched.
Over the years, this form of information technology has steadily gained shape and thus blossomed into a technical aid that has not only become a popular private gimmick and an innovation for companies, but also represents an essential state instrument as a constituent part of countless societies .
The use of fast, uncomplicated data transfer and the fulfillment of important organizational and structural tasks also pose the risk of the Internet. Because power always brings abuse with it, and so cyber crime has established itself as a threat that should not be underestimated for the state or for national law and its citizens.
What exactly is cyber crime by definition ? Who is responsible for fighting cyber crime in Germany and how can internet users protect themselves from cyber crime? You will find an explanation for this as well as answers to other questions in the following guide, which deals extensively with the topic of Internet crime.
What is Cyber Crime – A Definition
With its terms flooded with Anglicisms , the German language presents some users with tricky challenges. What is used as usual can suddenly not be explained or only vaguely explained when asked.
For example, what is cybercrime ? As a first step towards understanding this well-known phenomenon, the word can be translated as Internet crime .
It is therefore a matter of criminal machinations , for example violations of criminal law , that take place in a space that describes information structures that can be accessed worldwide via the Internet , the so-called cyber space .
Cybercrime by definition
Whether as cybercrime, internet, computer or cyber crime – all these terms are synonymous with crimes that are directed against the internet , data networks, information technology systems or their data and that are committed with the help of information or communication technology .
Manifestations of cyber crime
Cyber crime can take various forms , i.e. it can come to light through the implementation of various criminal offenses . In the Cyber crime Convention of the Council of Europe , crimes such as data misuse or copyright infringement are cited as examples of cyber crime .
In the manual for the prevention and control of computer crime (English: Manual on the Prevention and Control of Computer Related Crime) lead the United Nations in terms of computer crime following examples:
unauthorized access to data
All of these crimes can be fulfilled by a wide variety of courses of action , so the cases in which the police investigate cybercrime are extremely diverse.
Due to the flow of innovation in technology , the opportunities to profitably release criminal energies are also growing. Platforms such as the so-called Darknet are a breeding ground for criminal networks.
Darknet refers to anonymous connections which, in contrast to the usual Internet, are not publicly accessible. Such pages cannot be found by search engines like Google. It is often accessed using special software , for example Tor browser packages. There is no central server here that all users can access, instead the homepages are managed by individual computers.
Such dark parallel universes , which are not easily accessible from the outside, can be used to plan and carry out actions that are part of cybercrime. An example of this is, among other things, the exchange and distribution of child pornographic content and the purchase of weapons or drugs.
But cyber criminals also play their bad game away from such networks, for example with “phishing” emails that are used to obtain sensitive personal data . In particular, the infection and manipulation of computer systems by viruses and malware is a common practice.
Personal data and access authorizations are recorded using Trojans , also known as malware, or other programs . This allows the identity of the person concerned to be stolen, which enables the perpetrator, for example, to hack bank accounts or access social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.
Also Kyptotrojaner (ransomware) are used to enrich themselves financially. Such malware is used to block the infected devices. The renewed release will then only take place after the payment of a demanded ransom . Here, for example, there could be blackmail .
Are also treacherous botnets , ie infected several devices by the attacker controlled from a distance can be.
Cyber crime: what the statistics say
What is subjectively perceived as a great danger can be confirmed by a look at the number of cases of cybercrime . According to the statistics, from 2013 to 2015 there was a decline in the recorded offenses that are attributable to cybercrime. However, according to police crime statistics , the level in 2015 is still high with almost 70,000 cases .
In terms of the number of cases, cyber crime clearly dwarfs, among other things, robbery (around 45,000) and crimes against the Weapons Act (around 30,000).
The perpetrators most frequently committed computer fraud in 2015 (around 24,000). The spying on and interception of data follows with a considerable gap (around 10,000) and in third place is the falsification of evidence-relevant data (around 7,000).
It is therefore not surprising that in 2014 over a third of the German population was quite concerned about becoming a victim of identity theft (according to Statista).
These justified concerns can be curbed by resolute action by the police and the Federal Criminal Police Office against cybercrime and its perpetrators. This requires extensive knowledge of the perpetrator’s profile.
Only in this way can the police fight cybercrime as quickly as possible and keep the consequences as low as possible.
It should also be borne in mind that isolated hacker attacks can often be part of a larger plan of cyber terrorism .
So what kind of people are behind such attacks from and with the network?
Typology of perpetrators of cyber crime
Police investigations into cyber crime are often made more difficult by the fact that so-called hackers are often socially inconspicuous and do not have a long criminal record.
As a rule, the perpetrators are schoolchildren, trainees or students – in other words, by no means IT experts – who live in seclusion and primarily maintain contacts on an informative basis instead of building friendly relationships.
As a trigger for the commission of cybercrime, the police often come across less on a stand-alone cause than on a bundle of motives . The joy, curiosity and the entertainment value of hacking are often accompanied by the thrill of committing illegal acts and the desire to establish yourself in a group of like-minded people and to gain respect and recognition there.
Feelings of power, revenge and control can be just as important as financial aspects or political views.
One aspect that promotes the criminalization of certain people is the low demands on their own IT skills . More and more dubious offers can be found on the Internet that enable laypeople to manipulate foreign networks.
The targets of cybercrime vary, as do the motives. Depending on their interests, large companies in the business sector, state-run websites, porn operators or bank sites are just as at risk as private individuals.
State measures and private techniques for self-protection
Basically, two reaction areas can be divided when it comes to criminal offenses that can be assigned to cybercrime. On the one hand, affected persons should check their own data security in order to be prepared preventively against perpetrators.
On the other hand, the police should be the first point of contact for victims if they have experienced cybercrime. This may have expert groups or competence centers that specifically deal with the problem of cybercrime.
Security strategies to ward off cyber crime
If you take certain security measures, you can drastically minimize the chance of falling victim to cybercrime. You can pursue the following strategies yourself to protect yourself against unauthorized access:
- Regular installation of security updates for the operating system and installed programs
- Update of the virus protection program used
- Setting up a firewall
- Restriction of the rights of used user accounts
- critical handling of personal data
- Use of secure browsers
- Use of strong passwords ; regular renewal
- Data transmission exclusively via encrypted connections (recognizable by the “HTTPS” communication protocol)
- Uninstalling unnecessary software
- Creation of backups
- WLAN use via the WPA2 encryption standard
- Check the security status of the computer
Should you nevertheless become a victim of cyber criminals, contact the police immediately and, if in doubt, consult a lawyer, for example for criminal law .
The little ABC of cyber crime
- CERT : Computer Emergency Response Team; Responsible for preventive and reactive measures in the event of security-relevant incidents in computer systems
- Darknet : anonymous, not publicly accessible connections
- Malware : Generic term for various forms of malware
- Adware : does not do any real damage, integrates itself in the browser as a toolbar or add-on and tries to integrate advertising
- Botnet / botnet : a series of infected computers that are remotely controlled by a third party
- Ransomware : blocking of the system, which can only be lifted by paying a ransom
- Spyware : Program for storing sensitive user data
- Trojans : disguised as a useful program that users ignorantly download in order to then damage the computer
Virus : File with malicious code that makes programs unusable and spreads on the computer