With technology advancing nearly every day, the risks online increase as well. Many people might see the risk in social media, and how it affects mental health or even behavior.
However, the risk of crime – and criminal charges – seems to be rising as well.
What exactly makes something a computer crime?
Computer crimes – or cybercrimes – are any type of crime committed using a computer or another device. That definition leaves a lot of room and a lot of risk for individuals. There is such a wide range of options available online, which leaves a wide range of actions considered computer crimes.
This long list includes, but is certainly not limited to:
- Fraud and identity theft
- Hacking and installing malware
- Purchasing controlled substances on the dark web
However, as technology has developed, several categories of computer crimes emerged that occur exclusively online. For example, Tennessee is one of the few states who has passed laws making cyberbullying a crime.
In a digital world, actions taken online essentially have the same effect – and consequences – as actions taken in the physical world. The penalties for computer crimes reflect that. Tennessee takes computer crimes very seriously. Individuals could face anything between misdemeanor charges or felony charges depending on the computer crime.
Remember: You leave a trail on the internet
It can be easy to overlook the risk online. It may not feel real, especially since you can clear your history, use incognito browsers and delete social media posts. However, consider this report from National Public Radio from back in 2013. It details what makes up your digital identity – as well as just how easy it is for law enforcement to access and trace that digital footprint.
Additionally, federal law enforcement is cracking down on computer crimes after seeing a sharp increase in this type of crime over the last few years. In February, the FBI announced they are creating a unit specifically dedicated to tracking crimes surrounding ransomware and cryptocurrency.
The online world is vast, which makes it even more important to take the risk of computer crime charges seriously.