Effects of Cyber Crime

By Milton Kazmeyer

Criminals' activities online can have far-reaching effects.
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Criminals take advantage of technology in many different ways. The Internet, in particular, is a great tool for scammers and other miscreants, since it allows them to ply their trade while hiding behind a shield of digital anonymity. Cyber crime affects society in a number of different ways, both online and in the offline world.

Identity Theft

Becoming the victim of cyber crime can have long-lasting effects on your life. One common technique scammers employ is phishing, sending false emails purporting to come from a bank or other financial institution requesting personal information. If you hand over this information, it can allow the criminal to access your bank and credit accounts, as well as open new accounts and destroy your credit rating. This type of damage can take months or even years to fix, so protecting your personal information online is an important skill to learn.

Security Costs

Cyber criminals also focus their attacks on businesses, both large and small. Hackers may attempt to take over company servers to steal information or use the machines for their own purposes, requiring companies to hire staff and update software to keep intruders out. According to EWeek, a survey of large companies found an average expenditure of $8.9 million per year on cyber security, with 100 percent of firms surveyed reporting at least one malware incident in the preceding 12 months and 71 percent reporting the hijacking of company computers by outsiders.

Monetary Losses

The overall monetary losses from cyber crime can be immense. According to a 2012 report by Symantec, more than 1.5 million people fall victim to some sort of cyber crime every day, ranging from simple password theft to extensive monetary swindles. With an average loss of $197 per victim, this adds up to more than $110 billion dollars lost to cyber crime worldwide every year. As consumers get wise to traditional avenues of attack, cyber criminals have developed new techniques involving mobile devices and social networks to keep their illicit gains flowing.


The cyber crime of piracy has had major effects on the entertainment, music and software industries. Claims of damages are hard to estimate and even harder to verify, with estimates ranging widely from hundreds of millions to hundreds of billions of dollars per year. In response, copyright holders have lobbied for stricter laws against intellectual property theft, resulting in laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These laws allow copyright holders to target file sharers and sue them for large sums of money to counteract the financial damage of their activities online.