Cyberspace is a new technology platform, which offers opportunities for individuals, businesses and organizations to communicate and transact businesses. However, cyberspace includes dishonest people and criminals who engage innocent people in fraudulent activities. Some of the common frauds include personal data phishing, Nigerian money offers, and non-delivered businesses services among others (Miller & Cross, 2009).
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All these cyber-crimes have been happening and any attempt to sue the suspects under the tort law has failed because of inability to provide evidence and prove the case. As a result, various cyber-tort legislations have been enacted to strengthen legal procedures against cyber-crimes.
The cyber-tort is derived from the legal term tort, which refers to an act of negligence or intentional act someone does to injure another person in a way. Therefore, cyber tort is an act of negligence done over the internet. Cybertort cases continue to rise and their effects are increasingly being felt in the society. Because internet and cyberspace are fast becoming a fundamental part of the society, all people should have knowledge about the dangers and damages of cyber tort. Some of the most common cyber torts are cyber defamation, cyber stalking or harassment, conversation and trespass to chattels (Koch, 2014).
Cyber conversation takes place when domain names of websites and individuals are stolen over the internet. Stalking and harassment are common cyber torts in the social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter with billions of users. Trespass to chattels refers to untrusted activities such as spam emails, spyware, and scrapers. On the other hand, cyber defamation occurs most of the time in social media platforms and forums. The above types of cyber torts can cause serious problems to individuals and institutions (Gilmore, 2015). Famous individuals and reputed organizations can suffer a serious loss of resources and good name.
People have been using the internet in several ways to harm others. Cyber criminals hack domain names of individuals so that they can retrieve personal data. The tort actions taken by these people are aimed at destroying the reputation of these websites. The main objective is to harm the individuals who own these websites (Gilmore, 2015). The worst occurs cases occur in the social media. Facebook and Twitter host billions of people from across the world.
Some individuals have the tendency of sending harassing text or visual messages to their friends or acquaintances in a manner that destroys the victims. The person committing these crimes has the intention of making other people and organizations suffer (Koch, 2014). The reason why these actions are called cyber torts is because the people who engage in those activities purposely know that they will have consequences, which can benefit them and harm victims.
In the context of defamation, criminals can publish a false statement with the main objective of creating contempt, hatred or ridicule an individual or institution. They intentionally communicate to the third party to reveal information that appears to be confidential. There are different modes and manners in which people commit cyber torts (Jones & Finkle, 2009). Some individuals use modern technology to access computer systems or network without authority.
The crime is commonly known as an unauthorized access. Theft of information stored in electronic form can be done using hard drives, magnetic disks, removable storage media and flash memories among others (Kesan, 2002). Theft of data might occur physically or electronically through various virtual media.
Email bombing is another kind of cyber tort, which refers to the sending of large number emails to victims such as companies, celebrities, and individuals. Individuals can be trapped into fraudulent activities. Data diddling is another type of tort that involves an attack in which a raw data is altered before it is processed in a computer system. When the processing is completed, the data is again altered with the aim of retrieving important information (Kim, 2008).
In the recent context, Denial of Service attack has been used as another cyber tort. In this context, the criminals load the computer of their victims with too much request information that it cannot handle. In the end, the computer’s operating system and other software applications crash (Gilmore, 2015).
In 2009, the federal prosecutors charged five victims in the court for hacking and engaging in credit card fraud. They breached cyber security against Nasdaq and provided some details about the attack. The hackers targeted several credit card companies such as Penny Co, Carrefour, J.C. Penney Co, and Visa Inc. The criminals were indicted together with Albert Gonzalez who was the co-conspirator. He pleaded guilty of masterminding the biggest cyber fraud in the history and was jailed for 20 years in prison (Jones & Finkle, 2009).
Gonzalez supported the hackers to steal millions worth of credit cards. The judgment of the case was fair because of the magnitude of the criminal activity. Many people use cyber and internet resources but they do not have deep knowledge on the potential threats over the internet. As a result, criminals use the situation purposefully to harm the victims or have personal gains. Jailing a criminal for 20 years serves as an example to other people who might have engaged in cyber torts.
Gilmore, S. (2015). Suing the surveillance states: The (cyber) tort exception to the foreign sovereign immunities act. Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 46(3), 228-286.
Jones, D., & Finkle, J. (2009). U.S. indicts hackers in biggest cyber fraud case in history. Web.
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Kesan, J. (2002). Cyber-working or cyber-shirking? A first principles examination of electronic privacy in the workplace. Florida Law Review, 54(1), 290-315.
Kim, N. (2008). Imposing tort liability on websites for cyber- harassment. Web.
Koch, A. (2014). Cyber torts: Something virtually new? Journal of European Tort Law, 5(2), 133-164.
Miller, L., & Cross, B. (2009). The legal environment of business: Text and cases: Ethical, regulatory, global, and e-commerce issues. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.