Prior to the 1980s crimes involving computers were dealt with using existing laws. The first computer crimes were recognized in the 1978 Florida Computer Crimes Act, which included legislation against the unauthorized modification or deletion of data on a computer system. Over the next few years the range of computer crimes being committed increased, and laws were passed to deal with issues of copyright, privacy/harassment (e.g., cyber bullying, cyber stalking, and online predators) and child pornography. It was not until the 1980s that federal laws began to incorporate computer offences. Canada was the first country to pass legislation in 1983. This was followed by the US Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in 1986, Australian amendments to their crimes acts in 1989 and the British Computer Abuse Act in 1990.
1980s–1990s: Growth of the field
The growth in computer crime during the 1980s and 1990s caused law enforcement agencies to begin establishing specialized groups, usually at the national level, to handle the technical aspects of investigations. For example, in 1984 the FBIlaunched a Computer Analysis and Response Team and the following year a computer crime department was set up within the British Metropolitan Police fraud squad. As well as being law enforcement professionals, many of the early members of these groups were also computer hobbyists and became responsible for the field's initial research and direction. One of the first practical (or at least publicised) examples of digital forensics was Cliff Stoll's pursuit of hacker Markus Hess in 1986. Stoll, whose investigation made use of computer and network forensic techniques, was not a specialised examiner. Many of the earliest forensic examinations followed the same profile. Throughout the 1990s there was high demand for the these new, and basic, investigative resources. The strain on central units lead to the creation of regional, and even local, level groups to help handle the load. For example, the British National Hi-Tech Crime Unit was set up in 2001 to provide a national infrastructure for computer crime;...