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Cybercrime is the use of computers and Internet connectivity to commit criminal acts. It includes everything from hacking into websites and email to stealing identities, infecting devices with malware and even denial of service attacks against businesses. It also encompasses trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property rights violations, as well as fraud and money laundering. The necessity of the Internet for almost all aspects of our lives makes it a natural and lucrative target for criminal activity.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, teenage boys hacked into Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone system (phreaking) to cause mischief. This is a precursor to the modern practice of cybercrime. Today hackers can hide in cyberspace, a planet-spanning network that makes it difficult to track criminal activity. It also provides a degree of anonymity that can obscure the identity and location of attackers.

Moreover, the speed and convenience of the Internet makes it easier for criminals to engage in cybercrimes. For example, the need for constant Internet connectivity means that individuals can access illegal materials on their own devices at any time and anywhere in the world. This presents challenges for law enforcement, because laws and regulations may differ between jurisdictions.

The most common cybercrimes are those that directly attack people and businesses through social engineering and malware infections, such as phishing, ransomware, cryptojacking and distributed denial of service attacks. These criminals can also steal personal information by exploiting holes in security and weak passwords on accounts and smart devices. They can also violate privacy and extort money by demanding that victims pay to stop the malicious activities or return stolen data.