Computer Ethics

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Computer crimes such as malicious attacks on software, identity theft, and illegal distribution are quickly becoming big problems that are not easily enforceable. When average people hear the words "computer crime", they often think of obscene pictures available on the Internet or solicitation of children for sex by pedophiles via the Internet. The legal problem of obscenity on the Internet is the same as the legal problem of obscenity in books and magazines. It is not as pressing as other Internet crimes. There are no precise, reliable statistics on the amount of computer crime and the loss to victims. These silent crimes are not detected by victims and therefore are not reported to authorities. This in turn leads to a miscalculation about both the number of computer crimes committed and the damage. Nevertheless, there is a consensus among both law enforcement personnel and computer scientists who specialize in security that both the number of computer crime incidents and the sophistication of computer criminals is rapidly increasing. There are three major classes of criminal activity with computers: unauthorized use of a computer (stealing a username and password), creating or releasing a malicious computer program (computer virus, worm, Trojan Horse), and harassment and stalking in cyberspace.

Many crimes involving computers are no different from crimes without computers. The computer is only a tool that a criminal uses to commit a crime. These are examples of what is considered a crime: •Using a computer, a scanner, graphics software, and a high-quality color laser or ink jet printer for forgery or counterfeiting is the same crime as using an old-fashioned printing press with ink. •Stealing a laptop computer with information stored on the hard disk inside the computer is the same crime as stealing a briefcase that contains papers with proprietary information. •Using the Internet or online services to solicit sex is similar to other forms of...
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