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Cyber Crime

Cyber Crime Trends: Two cases in Recent Years


Cybercrime is one of the fastest areas of crime growth. Increasingly criminals take advantage of the speed, convenience and anonymity offered by modern technologies to perform various types of criminal activity. These include attacks against computer systems and data, identity theft, distribution of images of child sexual abuse, scams related auctions conducted over the Internet, intrusion in online financial services, spreading viruses, botnets (networks of computers infected controlled by remote users) and various types of fraud committed via email as phishing (fraudulent acquisition of sensitive personal information) (Chang et al: 2003). The global reach of the Internet has enabled criminals to commit any illegal activity almost anywhere on the planet, so that all countries are forced to adapt their ordinary methods of control at the national level to deal with the crimes committed in cyberspace. The use of the Internet by terrorists, particularly to attract followers and encourage radicalization poses a serious threat to security both nationally and internationally (Furnell: 2002). Moreover, the danger of terrorism requires authorities to address vulnerabilities in security infrastructure related to information technology, such as power plants, power networks, information systems and computer networks of government and big business (Brenner: 2001). The purpose of this paper is to explore the U.S. code or State law regarding cybercrime in the light of two cybercrime court cases: moreover, to highlight the emerging trends in cybercrime and its impact on the criminal justice system.


In the U.S., most cybercrimes are covered by Title 18, United States Code (USC) Section 1030 – Fraud and related activity in connection with computers (Brenner: 2001).

  1. Case 1: United States v. Smith No. 12-60988 (5th Cir. 2014)

    In the above case, United States court of appeals for the fifth circuit reversed the absolution of a man found guilty for possessing child pornography (No. 12-60988 (5th Cir. 2014)). It could be determined by the district court verdict could not be sustained due to the insufficiency of the evidence. However, the court of appeals established that conviction should stand.

    As evidence, the court found 26 child pornography videos on the defendant’s PC. Moreover, his roommates were those suspected in the case. The prosecution presented that one of the roommate could not have downloaded those files because of her absence at the time of the download whereas the other roommate denied of being involve in the download and witnessed at the defendant’s trial. However, the defendant did not testify and the Fifth Circuit established that those facts appeared to implicate the defendant.

    On the other hand, it was also found that the computer was often used by the second roommate but he failed to produce the alibi for the download rates. However, an alibi was offered by the defendant through the three witnesses’ testimony and the documents in support of the alibi were presented to the court. But the documentation was not found to be fully supportive of the testimony and further there were some inconsistencies found in the testimony.

    The District Court acquitted the defendant on the basis that it was more likely that as the defendant downloaded the pornography on the computer, the second roommate might have done it. The Fifth Circuit held that it is not the proper inquiry. But the issue was that whether the evidence offers ‘nearly equal circumstantial support’ for opposing explanations, being taken in the light most favorable to the verdict. In answer to this question, the Court of Appeals found that it did not and therefore reversed the acquittal and held that the roommate’s testimony was simply chosen by the jury which was well in their discretion to do so (http://www.cybercrimereview.com/2014/01/fifth-circuit-reverses-acquittal-in.html).

  2. Case 2: United States v. Pirosko No. 5:12CR327 (N.D. Ohio 2013)

    In the above case, United States v. Pirosko, No. 5:12CR327 (N.D. Ohio 2013), the sharing of child pornography to a hotel in Nebraska was tracked by an investigator and the GUID identified that the computer was connected to the hotel’s IP address internet five nights in a row. In all those five nights, the defendant was found to be the only person staying in that hotel. Moreover, the same GUID was detected to be sharing child pornography in five other hotels nationwide over the next three months. A search warrant was obtained after the defendant’s travel patterns were associated with the GUID connections, and his computer was seized.

    Prior to trail, the defendant claimed for the absence of a probable cause to obtain the search warrant. However, the Supreme Court held otherwise. Moreover, the court found that the warrant was executed by the law enforcement in good faith even if the probable cause did not exist.

    Taking into account the government findings, the affidavit stated that the defendant was a registered sex offender from Mississippi, had been a guest at hotels in the cities: Nebraska, Missouri, New Jersey, Utah and Ohio for over a three month period. He remained connected to the same peer-to-peer network during his stays and used the same software and a computer at each of the hotels in the above cities to download child pornography (http://www.cybercrimereview.com/2013/12/law-enforcement-tracks-child.html).

Issues of Criminal Prosecution:

From the perspective of substantive criminal law, particularly in crimes committed via the Internet, the essential problem is determining who are criminally-legal between all actors responsible. There is need to know who are attributable to wrongful acts and who are mere facilitators or holders. In particular, the liability of intermediary service that enable access and transmission of information through the network arises (Chang et al: 2003).

Moreover, the substantive reforms cybercrime have not had their necessary correspondence in the field of procedural law. Reform is considered necessary to regulate the computer evidence, besides being due to include regulations governing telecommunications and international cooperation in criminal matters; especially if the manifestation of transnational organized crime and its projection is considered (McQuade: 2006). Obviously it is imperative that this harmonization is done in a suitable order not to fall into the temptation of a system exception provided by the intrusive potential enabling technologies of computer and communication system of guarantees (Brenner: 2001).

Also in the field of computer crime on the Internet, there remains the question whether jurisdiction has the state where there were behaviors that are qualified for cooperation, such as the service providers that transmit data or select data and / or recipients (Smith et al: 2004). In any case, it is clear that the intervention of various States in respect of the same criminal act of international jurisdictional conflicts may arise, so that every time the treaties of judicial cooperation worldwide are most needed (Smith et al: 2004). Otherwise, it will continue to raise the issue of differences in legislative treatment of these behaviors. Especially regarding intermediaries and ISPs, the functions and services can have an impact anywhere in the world. The performance and even the content of these data will be illegal in some countries and not in others. Or in any case, it is certain that some will have a different meaning than others, both in relation to the content of the typical behavior as especially worthwhile (Furnell: 2002).

Cyber-Crime: the New Attack Techniques, Increasingly Sophisticated and Formidable

Hackers are never short of ideas to complete their business. Sea or on land, this is what has always been their success. With internet, imagination has no limits, and each year we discover new attack techniques that aggregate to conventional methods that are nevertheless effective as companies and individuals are negligent (Williams: 2001).

Spear phishing

Phishing is a well-known hacker technique. It is to deceive a person through an email from a legitimate institution appearance (banking, insurance, telecom operator etc).  Phishing works only if it is committed on a large scale. But since last year, a sharp technical since it targets only a few people, seems to have had some success. More lucrative, the spear phishing is to send an email to the executive assistants and asked them to print a document to the Director. It is necessary to click a link to get this document. To ensure that they will run, these workers receive a phone call, each time in the country’s language and without accent, to encourage them to submit this document to the director of an emergency. However, the link has no other object than to introduce a “malware” in the computer system of the company (Williams: 2001).

The “water hole”

Also known as “watering hole”, it is a rather clever technique. Hackers identify hobbies frames or covered big bosses and will wait patiently on a referring site in the field. For example, if a CEO SMEs like fishing, then hackers will identify a referent pout all fishing enthusiasts site and will settle on this site until the target gets there just like a lion hiding near a water point in waiting for its prey. This is a relatively effective attack set up by a group (Williams: 2001).

Undermined the website

Nothing is easier than creating an iPhone application. With AppStar 2.0, developers have provided construction tools which facilitate the task. AppStar 2.0 is infected by hackers and suddenly, developers use tools potentially “compromise”(Reddy & Reddy: 2014).

The magic app

It is wacky ideas that work. It made the experience at the expense of naive victims. It is an application that turns the screen of the mobile phone solar panel: no need to recharge the batteries of the phone, according to the developers of this application. Except in reality, it was mainly to penetrate the mobile user and collect contact information (Williams: 2001).

The “ransom-software”

Hackers use more methods of robbers. The ransom-blocking software is formidable as a computer system to the payment of a sum of money. This attack is more sophisticated as to add to the anxiety, the malware displays the IP address of the user and will turn up his webcam to see his picture on the screen blocking. A report estimated the damage of this type of attack some 5 million in 2012 (Reddy & Reddy: 2014).


This malware has been used against Iran. This is a program that affects an organization’s data and mixing them in a random manner. Thus, the commands are mixed between clients, which disrupt the entire supply chain and inventory management of a company (Reddy & Reddy: 2014).

Social, mobile networks, cloud, new frontiers of cyber-pirates
Faced with the downward trend in spam mails boxes, cybercriminals have set their sights on social networks, a wealth of personal information. According to a report, another technique is by creating fake buttons for example on Face book, leading to install malware (McQuade: 2006).

Scam PlayStation online auction

Victims of this scam receive unsolicited emails informing them that their announcement of a Sony PlayStation and other accessories has been published. The message even contains a confirmation number. But some victims say they have an account to participate in online auctions. The goal of this scam is to acquire personal information of the victims, including personal data, passwords and credit card numbers (Smith et al: 2004).

Scams massive class actions

Some victims have reported receiving a letter from a law firm in California who informs them that are potential plaintiffs in a class action against the owner of your mortgage company. The law firm promises many things and offers legal and litigation services for non-refundable fees and prepaid between $ 2,000 and $ 5,000 (Reddy & Reddy: 2014). However this is a scam. Lawyers for plaintiffs seeking collective judgments not asking upfront commissions and typically get paid once win the case or reach an agreement on behalf of their clients.


Brenner, S. W. (2001). State Cybercrime Legislation in the United States of America: A Survey. Rich. JL & Tech., 7, 28-34.

Chang, W., Chung, W., Chen, H., & Chou, S. (2003). An international perspective on fighting cybercrime. In Intelligence and Security Informatics (pp. 379-384). Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

Cybercrime Review. (http://www.cybercrimereview.com/2014/01/fifth-circuit-reverses-acquittal-in.html). Accessed on February 8, 2014.

Cybercrime Review. (http://www.cybercrimereview.com/2013/12/law-enforcement-tracks-child.html). Accessed on February 8, 2014.

Furnell, S. (2002). Cybercrime: Vandalizing the information society. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

McQuade, S. C. (2006). Understanding and managing cybercrime. Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Reddy, G. N., & Reddy, G. U. (2014). A Study of Cyber Security Challenges and Its Emerging Trends on Latest Technologies. International Journal of Engineering and Technology, 4(1).

Smith, R., Grabosky, P., & Urbas, G. (2004). Cyber criminals on trial. Criminal Justice Matters, 58(1), 22-23.

Williams, P. (2001). Organized crime and cybercrime: Synergies, trends, and responses. Global Issues, 6(2), 22.


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