Internet Crime

What Does Internet Crime Mean?

Internet crime is any crime or illegal online activity committed on the Internet, through the Internet or using the Internet. The widespread Internet crime phenomenon encompasses multiple global levels of legislation and oversight. In the demanding and continuously changing IT field, security experts are committed to combating Internet crime through preventative technologies, such as intrusion detection networks and packet sniffers.


Internet crime is a strong branch of cybercrime. Identity theft, Internet scams and cyberstalking are the primary types of Internet crime. Because Internet crimes usually engage people from various geographic areas, finding and penalizing guilty participants is complicated.

Techopedia Explains Internet Crime

Internet crimes, such as the Nigerian 419 fraud ring, are a constant threat to Internet users. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Federal Trade Commission (FCC) have dedicated and appointed IT and law enforcement experts charged with ending the far-reaching and damaging effects of Internet crime.

Examples of Internet crime legislation include:

  • U.S. Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Section 1030: Amended in 2001 through the U.S. Patriot Act
  • CAN SPAM Act of 2003
  • Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011

As the U.S. works to combat Internet crime, other countries are experiencing increased cybercriminal activity. In 2001, Websense (an organization focused on network abuse research) reported the alarming spread of Internet crime in Canada. This global shift is under review by the Canadian government.

Types of Internet crime include:

  • Cyberbullying and harassment
  • Financial extortion
  • Internet bomb threats
  • Classified global security data theft
  • Password trafficking
  • Enterprise trade secret theft
  • Personally data hacking
  • Copyright violations, such as software piracy
  • Counterfeit trademarks
  • Illegal weapon trafficking
  • Online child pornography
  • Credit card theft and fraud
  • Email phishing
  • Domain name hijacking
  • Virus spreading

To prevent becoming an Internet crime, online vigilance and common sense are critical. Under no circumstances should a user share personal information (like full name, address, birth date and Social Security number) to unknown recipients. Moreover, while online, a user should remain suspicious about exaggerated or unverifiable claims.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.