Computer Addiction and Cyber Crime

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This research explores the relationship between computer addiction and cyber crime. There is evidence of computer addiction in medical settings, scholarly journals and legal proceedings. Reviewing the history of computer addiction has shown that computer addiction can be related to cyber crime. This paper will define computer addiction, show how various cyber crimes, especially those against businesses and organizations, can be motivated by computer addiction and propose further research on how managers can deal with cyber crime in a business, by recognizing addictive behaviors and computer addiction in their employees. HISTORY OF COMPUTER ADDICTION

Computer addiction is an idea that has been in existence for years. Since the 1970s, avid computer programmers and hackers have been called “addicts” by both psychologists and the general public (Reed, 2002, p. 135). In 1976, Weizenbaum wrote about computer programmers who could sit and work at their computer terminals for twenty or thirty hours at a time. This behavior however, was viewed at the time as useful to technology and society. Computers, once seen as huge government machines that only very knowledgeable people could use, transformed into user-friendly tools that could be used by the everyday person. It became more common to see computers in homes and businesses during the 1980s. This change meant more people were using computers, and more people were becoming addicted to computer use. The idea of computer addiction became more pervasive in the 80’s, and because of the social atmosphere of the time, there was widespread use of drug and addiction metaphors describing obsessive use of computers (Reed, 2002, p. 137). In fact, the PC is sometimes referred to as the “LSD of the 1980s” (Elmer-DeWitt, 1993, p. 63). Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics

The Shotton studies on computer dependency in 1989 did nothing to discourage the idea of computer addiction. Shotton (1989) wrote that “in all instances where personal contact was made with people who worked with computers and computer users, there was belief in the occurrence of this syndrome (computer dependency)” (p. 20). Shotton mentions that many people felt that this dependency could also lead to negative consequences, such as academic and professional problems and decreased social interactions (Shotton, 1989, p. 20). Shotton’s analysis of computer dependent individuals found that they tend to be younger, unmarried men. Many were also first born children who had occupations within areas of science and technology (Shotton, 1989, p. 37). The result of these studies showed that computer dependency was a plausible syndrome and even began to show that profiling could be performed to show what kind of social and demographic influences nurture computer dependency. During the 1990s, computer hacking became more widespread and resulted in the notion of hackers as “computer addicts.” In US courts, convicted hackers labeled as “addicts” saw increased rehabilitative therapy, computer use supervision and jail time. Computer hacker Kevin Mitnick’s history within the court system, shows how harsh punishments for computer crimes became during this time. In 1989, Mitnick was arrested for computer fraud and sentenced to one year in prison plus six months in an addiction rehabilitation program. At the time, this was the harshest sentence ever handed out by a court for this offence. Mitnick was released in 1990, only to be arrested again in 1995 for violating his probation by using computers. Mitnick was seen as an electronic terrorist and a dangerous individual, and he thus became the symbol of computer obsession gone wrong. For these reasons, it is not strange for Mitnick’s defense to be addiction and for his sentence to be so harsh. The Mitnick case introduced and legitimized the notion of clinical computer addiction to the US legal system (Reed, 2002, pp. 138-142). The term Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) was first coined...
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