Computers and Crime

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Computers and Crime

Computers are used to track reservations for the airline industry, process billions of dollars for banks, manufacture products for industry, and conduct major transactions for businesses because more and more people now have computers at home and at the office.

People commit computer crimes because of society's declining ethical standards more than any economic need. According to experts, gender is the only bias. The profile of today's non-professional thieves crosses all races, age groups and economic strata. Computer criminals tend to be relatively honest and in a position of trust: few would do anything to harm another human, and most do not consider their crime to be truly dishonest. Most are males: women have tended to be accomplices, though of late they are becoming more aggressive. Computer Criminals tend to usually be "between the ages of 14-30, they are usually bright, eager, highly motivated, adventuresome, and willing to accept technical challenges."(Shannon, 16:2) "It is tempting to liken computer criminals to other criminals, ascribing characteristics somehow different from 'normal' individuals, but that is not the case."(Sharp, 18:3) It is believed that the computer criminal "often marches to the same drum as the potential victim but follows and unanticipated path."(Blumenthal, 1:2) There is no actual profile of a computer criminal because they range from young teens to elders, from black to white, from short to tall.

Definitions of computer crime has changed over the years as the users and misusers of computers have expanded into new areas. "When computers were first introduced into businesses, computer crime was defined simply as a form of white-collar crime committed inside a computer system."(2600:Summer 92,p.13) Some new terms have been added to the computer criminal vocabulary. "Trojan Horse is a hidden code put into a computer program. Logic bombs are implanted so that the perpetrator doesn't have to physically present himself or herself." (Phrack 12,p.43) Another form of a hidden code is "salamis." It came from the big salami loaves sold in delis years ago. Often people would take small portions of bites that were taken out of them and then they were secretly returned to the shelves in the hopes that no one would notice them missing.(Phrack 12,p.44)

Congress has been reacting to the outbreak of computer crimes. "The U.S. House of Judiciary Committee approved a bipartisan computer crime bill that was expanded to make it a federal crime to hack into credit and other data bases protected by federal privacy statutes."(Markoff, B 13:1) This bill is generally creating several categories of federal misdemeanor felonies for unauthorized access to computers to obtain money, goods or services or classified information. This also applies to computers used by the federal government or used in interstate of foreign commerce which would cover any system accessed by interstate telecommunication systems.

"Computer crime often requires more sophistications than people realize it."(Sullivan, 40:4) Many U.S. businesses have ended up in bankruptcy court unaware that they have been victimized by disgruntled employees. American businesses wishes that the computer security nightmare would vanish like a fairy tale. Information processing has grown into a gigantic industry. "It accounted for $33 billion in services in 1983, and in 1988 it was accounted to be $88 billion." (Blumenthal, B 1:2)

All this information is vulnerable to greedy employees, nosy-teenagers and general carelessness, yet no one knows whether the sea of computer crimes is "only as big as the Gulf of Mexico or as huge as the North Atlantic." (Blumenthal,B 1:2) Vulnerability is likely to increase in the future. And by the turn of the century, "nearly all of the software to run computers will be bought from vendors rather than developed in houses,...
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