Why Do People Commit Computer Crimes?

By Bobby Stocks

Computer crime comes in many different varieties. As new computer technologies are made available, there is sure to be someone lurking in the cyber-shadows who is ready to exploit, test or take advantage of security holes that may exist. Computers are so prevalent now that computer crime has become the most widespread criminal activity in the world. But what motivates someone to attempt or commit computer crimes?

Ease of Anonymity

Computer crime has risen at an astronomical rate, in large part due to the ease with which a perpetrator can remain undetected or anonymous. It is much easier to get away with criminal activity in a cyber world than in the real world. However, the ability to track IP network addresses is becoming greater all the time, making it harder to remain invisible when online. Still, there is a strong sense of anonymity that can draw otherwise respectable citizens to abandon their ethics in pursuit of personal gain.

Inadequate Legal Jurisdiction

Computer networks literally span the entire globe. This makes it virtually impossible for any government or law-enforcement agency to enact or enforce laws when computer criminals are set up in foreign countries. In many cases, computer criminals are actually backed by their local governments, in an attempt to carry out computer espionage or cyber-terrorism. These criminals are able to perform their computer crimes out of a sense of duty to their respective countries, and are able to do so without any fear of arrest or apprehension.

Old Crime, New Technology

Many computer criminals use their computers merely as a logical extension of "traditional" crimes that can take advantage of computer technology to help facilitate or carry out the crime. Crimes such as child pornography, identity theft and money scams are in many cases made easier by the use of a computer. Automated software can be programmed to steal credit-card numbers, personal-identification information and even cell-phone codes. By stealing personal information, a computer criminal may attempt even more serious criminal activity under the stolen identity.

Holding a Grudge

Malicious computer codes like worms and viruses are often spread by someone who is seeking to cause harm to an individual or company--possibly over losing a job, perceived unethical business conduct or maybe even jealousy or envy. Such parties intend to destroy or cripple their targets for the personal satisfaction of seeing them suffer the effects.

Thrill of the Game

For many computer criminals, the excitement and challenge of exploiting a computer system can be too great to resist. Computer gurus are notorious for gleaning information about specific networks and software designs that they have an irresistible urge to put to a test. Unfortunately, much of this information translates into illegally compromising computer systems in one way or another. Still, the lure of "cracking the code" will continue to be a major factor in enticing some to commit computer crimes.