Computer crimes are considered to be an illegal criminal activity that uses technology to retrieve unauthorized data and information from a computer system (Buzzle, 2010, p. 1). There are various types of computer crimes. Viruses and worms are used by hackers to penetrate computer programs with the intention of doing harm that, in some cases, result in the demise of the computer itself. However, not all computer crimes include physical property damage. These types of crimes include; “altering data, deleting information, and manipulating classified information” (Buzzle, 2010, p. 1). HISTORY
Prior to the evolution of the computer and Internet, law enforcement officers faced challenges such as “prohibition, drug trafficking, organized crime and violent crimes” (Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI], 1996, p. 1). Today, law enforcement officers have to contend with the rapid growth in computer-related crimes in conjunction with the existing challenges of street crimes. The process of “detecting, prosecuting and the prevention” (FBI, 1996, p. 1) of computer crimes have proven to be a losing battle with law enforcement. Some researchers suggest it resulted because of the “lack of education in public law enforcement relating to computer technology crimes” (FBI, 1996, p. 1), others believe some police department do not view computer crimes as a major threat in their respective communities because the effects of these types of computer crimes are not immediately seen. Finally, “the law enforcement community has devoted itself to high priority violent crimes, lumping computer crimes into a low priority status, yet the monetary losses to computer crimes could fund a small country”(FBI, 1996, p. 1). This way of thinking has resulted in what some believe to be “weak punishment” (FBI, 1996, p. 2) for the computer criminals. “WEAK PUNISHMENT” CASE EXAMPLES
The first reported computer crime case that entered the United States Federal Court System was U.S. v Riggs in 1986. Riggs was sentenced to “15 days of community service and placed on probation for 18 months for unauthorized use of a computer” (Standler, 2002, p. 3). Riggs was indicted again in 1990 for “unauthorized use of a computer that landed him 21 months in prison followed by 2 years supervised release” (Standler, 2002, p. 2). Riggs was not permitted use of any computers unless he was supervised. A second recorded computer crime occurred in 1997 in which, the youngest juvenile hacker was prosecuted by the United States Government for “disabling telephone service at Worcester, Massachusetts airport for six hours that also disabled air traffic control and other critical services” (Standler, 2002, p. 3). The juvenile hacker was sentenced to “two years of probation and 250 hours of community service” (Standler, 2002, p. 3). These two cases were among the first to be prosecuted in federal court. Since 1986 computer crime rates have continued to climb. The FBI Crime Complaint Center reported a 22.3% Internet crime increase from 2008 through December 31, 2009 (Crime in America, 2010). The total dollar loss from all reported FBI cases increased $295.1 million since 2008(Crime in America, 2010). INTERVENTION
These staggering statistics show the undeniable need for intervention. It has been shown in previous paragraphs that law enforcement agencies have not been able to gain any ground in the cyber- crime fight. The United States government acknowledged the need for intervention and stepped in. One approach the government has taken to fight cyber- crime occurred on May 29, 2009. President Obama announced a legislation plan to deal with the problems involving computer crimes against “the government, corporations, and individuals by coordinating the various efforts to fight hackers and other computer criminals under the direction of a coordinator already dubbed the ‘cyber czar’” (James, 2009, p. 1). Howard Schmidt was eventually...
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