Computer Crime

Topics: Computer, Computer programming, Personal computer Pages: 11 (3460 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Computer Crime

Computer crimes need to be prevented and halted thought increased computer network security measures as well as tougher laws and enforcement of those laws in cyberspace:

Computer crime is generally defined as any crime accomplished through special knowledge of computer technology. All that is required is a personal computer, a modem, and a phone line. Increasing instances of white-collar crime involve computers as more businesses automate and information becomes an important asset. Computers are objects of crime when they or their contents are damaged, as when terrorists attack computer centers with explosives or gasoline, or when a "computer virus"--a program capable of altering or erasing computer memory--is introduced into a computer system. As subjects of crime, computers represent the electronic environment in which frauds are programmed and executed; an example is the transfer of money balances in accounts to perpetrators' accounts for withdrawal. Computers are instruments of crime when used to plan or control such criminal acts as complex embezzlements that might occur over long periods of time, or when a computer operator uses a computer to steal valuable information from an employer.

Computers have been used for most kinds of crime, including fraud, theft, larceny, embezzlement, burglary, sabotage, espionage, murder, and forgery, since the first cases were reported in 1958. One study of 1,500 computer crimes established that most of them were committed by trusted computer users within businesses; persons with the requisite skills, knowledge, access, and resources. Much of known computer crime has consisted of entering false data into computers, which is simpler and safer than the complex process of writing a program to change data already in the computer. With the advent of personal computers to manipulate information and access computers by telephone, increasing numbers of crimes--mostly simple but costly electronic trespassing, copyrighted-information piracy, and vandalism--have been perpetrated by computer hobbyists, known as "hackers," who display a high level of technical expertise. For many years, the term hacker defined someone who was a wizard with computers and programing. It was an honor to be considered a hacker. But when a few hackers began to use their skills to break into private computer systems and steal money, or interfere with the system's operations, the word acquired its current negative meaning. Organized professional criminals have been attacking and using computer systems as they find their old activities and environments being automated.

There are not a large number of valid statistics about the extent and results of computer crime. Victims often resist reporting suspected cases, because they can lose more from embarrassment, lost reputation, litigation, and other consequential losses than from the acts themselves. Limited evidence indicates that the number of cases is rising each year, because of the increasing number of computers in business applications where crime has traditionally occurred. The largest recorded crimes involving insurance, banking, product inventories, and securities have resulted in losses of tens of millions to billions of dollars--all facilitated by computers. Conservative estimates have quoted $3 billion to $100 billion as yearly losses due to computer hackers. These losses are increasing on a basis equivalent to the number of computers logged on to networks, which is almost an exponential growth rate. The seriousness of cybercrimes also increases as the dependency on

computers becomes greater and greater.

Crimes in cyberspace are becoming more and more popular for several reason. The first being that computers are become more and more accessible; thus are just become another tool in the arsenal of tool to criminals. The other reason that computer crimes are becoming more and more common are that they are...
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