One of approach to defining Cyber-crime is to develop a classification scheme that links crimes with similar characteristics into appropriate groups similar to the traditional crime classifications. Several schemes have been developed over the years. One of the common schemes is that there are only two general categories: Active and Passive computer crimes. An active crime is when someone uses a computer to commit the crime, for example, when a person obtains access to a secured computer environment or telecommunications device without authorization (hacking). A passive computer crime occurs when someone uses a computer to both support and advance an illegal activity. An example is when a narcotics suspect uses a computer to track drug shipments and profits.
Classification based on computer’s relationship to the crime.
- Computers, Networks, Data or Cyber Infrastructure as a Target: Crimes such as Hacking into a restricted network, creating Malwares to disrupt the normal function of computers, stealing data such as customer data, banking detail, or stealing classified information etc.
- Computer as the Instrumentality of the Crime: Unlawful use of automated teller machine (ATM) cards and accounts, theft of money from accrual, conversion, or transfer accounts, credit card fraud, fraud from computer transaction (stock transfer, sales, or billing), and telecommunications fraud.
- Computer Is Incidental to Other Crimes: Money laundering and unlawful banking transactions, organized crime records or books, and bookmaking.
- Crime Associated with the Prevalence of Computers: Software piracy/ Counterfeiting, Copyright violation of computer programs, Counterfeit equipment, Black market computer equipment and programs, and theft of technological equipment.
Classification based on the target of the Cyber Attack.
- Against Individuals: This is the one that directly affects any person or their properties. Examples of this type of Cyber-crime include Harassment via electronic mails, Dissemination of obscene material, Cyber-stalking, Defamation, Indecent exposure, Cheating, Unauthorized control/access over computer system, Email spoofing, Fraud.
- Against Companies / Organizations: This is one of the most common types of Cyber-crime today. When a company’s online presence or any of its products are hacked, it becomes a serious problem that can result in a big number of consequences for the company, as well as their employees, associates and customers. Examples include data breaches, Cyber extortion and Distribution of Pirate software etc.
- Against Society: This one affects society as a whole, for example: Child pornography, Indecent exposure, Sale of illegal articles such as drugs, Trafficking, Forgery, Online gambling etc.
- Against Government: This types of Cyber-crime known as Cyber Terrorism, and includes such activities as breaking into government systems and networks, defacing and shutting down military websites, and spreading propaganda.