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Are you unknowingly committing cybercrimes?

Once part of a botnet, their devices can be used to launch attacks without their knowledge, potentially making them liable for criminal charges.

Image: – © AFP
Image: – © AFP

Sometimes, the boundaries between innocent actions and cybercrimes can become blurred, leading you into legal grey areas without you even realising it.

However, it is essential to be aware of the surprisingly common behaviours that could actually be cyber offences so that you do not end up in legal hot water.

Trevor Cooke, the online privacy expert at EarthWeb, discusses with Digital Journal four common cyber habits that could get you into serious trouble.

Illegal File-Sharing

Cooke warns: “Sharing copyrighted material without proper authorization is a prevalent form of cybercrime that many individuals engage in without understanding the legal implications.’ Whether it’s downloading movies, music, or software from unauthorized sources or distributing copyrighted content without permission, illegal file-sharing can result in severe consequences, including hefty fines and legal action from copyright holders.”

Unauthorised System Access

Accessing computer systems, networks, or online accounts without proper authorization is another common behaviour that can constitute a cyber offence. This includes hacking into or even sometimes just using someone else’s social media account, accessing confidential company data without permission, or using someone else’s Wi-Fi network without authorization.

With this issue, Cooke observes: “Even if done unintentionally or out of curiosity, unauthorised system access is illegal and can lead to criminal charges.”

Inadvertent Involvement In Botnets

Botnets are networks of compromised computers controlled by cybercriminals to carry out various malicious activities, such as distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks or spreading malware. Individuals may unknowingly become part of a botnet by downloading infected files, clicking on malicious links, or falling victim to phishing scams.

Once part of a botnet, their devices can be used to launch attacks without their knowledge, potentially making them liable for criminal charges.

The Netflix Sharing Password Habit

One prevalent yet often overlooked example of unintentional cyber offence is the habit of sharing Netflix passwords. While many may view sharing login credentials with friends or family as a harmless gesture of generosity, it could violate Netflix’s terms of service.

According to Netflix’s terms of use, account sharing is strictly prohibited, and users are not permitted to share their login credentials with individuals outside of their household. Despite this, password sharing remains widespread, with many individuals unaware of the legal implications.

“Individuals must recognize the legal boundaries online and take proactive steps to avoid engaging in risky behaviour that could lead to cyber offences,’ says Cooke. “Navigating the complexities of cyber law in the digital age requires a combination of awareness, education, and proactive cybersecurity measures.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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