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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ Even though cybercrime is perhaps the fastest-growing industry of the new economy, most businesses are not taking adequate precautions.

n. 1 crime committed using computer networks 2 an individual crime of this kind


n. crime committed using a computer and the internet to steal a person's identity or sell contraband or stalk victims or disrupt operations with malevolent programs


Computer crime, or cybercrime, is crime that involves a computer and a network. The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target. Debarati Halder and K. Jaishankar define cybercrimes as: "Offences that are committed against individuals or groups of individuals with a criminal motive to intentionally harm the reputation of the victim or cause physical or mental harm, or loss, to the victim directly or indirectly, using modern telecommunication networks such as Internet (Chat rooms, emails, notice boards and groups) and mobile phones (SMS/MMS)". Such crimes may threaten a nation's security and financial health. Issues surrounding these types of crimes have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding hacking, copyright infringement, child pornography, and child grooming. There are also problems of privacy when confidential information is intercepted or disclosed, lawfully or otherwise. Debarati Halder and K. Jaishankar further define cybercrime from the perspective of gender and defined 'cybercrime against women' as "Crimes targeted against women with a motive to intentionally harm the victim psychologically and physically, using modern telecommunication networks such as internet and mobile phones". Internationally, both governmental and non-state actors engage in cybercrimes, including espionage, financial theft, and other cross-border crimes. Activity crossing international borders and involving the interests of at least one nation state is sometimes referred to as cyberwarfare. The international legal system is attempting to hold actors accountable for their actions through the International Criminal Court.

A report (sponsored by McAfee) estimates that the annual damage to the global economy is at $445 billion; however, a Microsoft report shows that such survey-based estimates are "hopelessly flawed" and exaggerate the true losses by orders of magnitude. Approximately $1.5 billion was lost in 2012 to online credit and debit card fraud in the US. In 2016, a study by Juniper Research estimated that the costs of cybercrime could be as high as 2.1 trillion by 2019.

Most measures show that the problem of cybercrime continues to worsen. However, Eric Jardine argues that the frequency, cost and severity of cybercrime cannot be well understood as counts expressed in absolute terms. Instead, these numbers need to be normalized around the growing size of cyberspace, in the same way that crime statistics in the physical world are expressed as a proportion of a population (i.e., 1.5 murders per 100,000 people). Jardine argues that, since cyberspace has been rapidly increasing in size each year, absolute numbers (i.e., a count saying there are 100,000 cyberattacks in 2015) present a worse picture of the security of cyberspace than numbers normalized around the actual size of the Internet ecosystem (i.e., a rate of cybercrime). His proposed intuition is that if cyberspace continues to grow, you should actually expect cybercrime counts to continue to increase because there are more users and activity online, but that as a proportion of the size of the ecosystem crime might actually be becoming less of a problem.