Crimes With Computers Essay, Research Paper
Technology experienced a break-through with the invention of computers. With this break-through came a new quest for knowledge and power. Society relies more and more on computers each day and people have found that a quest for knowledge or power on a computer could give them more than they bargained for.
In the media, the term hacker is often defined as a criminal, armed with a computer, set out to commit malicious acts. The US Department of Defense estimated that their computer systems were attacked 250,000 by hackers in 1995 alone. That s an attack every thirty seconds (Knittel and Soto 6). This would lead most people to believe that hackers were in fact malicious criminals. However, a hacker is simply a talented computer user with a vast knowledge of how computers work.
Not all hackers commit malicious acts. But what acts committed by hackers are considered malicious? The legal definition of a computer crime is pending. Lawmakers and computer experts have characterized it variously as using a computer to steal money, services, or property, or to commit an invasion of privacy or an act of extortion or terrorism (Caplan 218). Early hacking was simple and not necessarily harmful.
In the early 1970 s, John Draper, a hacker later known as Captain Crunch , discovers that he can make free long distance phone calls by blowing an exact tone into the telephone with a toy whistle from a box of cereal. Draper was arrested several times during the 1970 s for computer and phone related crimes. In the late 70 s, two hackers from the Homebrew Computer Club develop devices called blue boxes which tap into the phone system. These two hackers, named Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, later went on to found Apple Computers (Triguax[Online]). But it would be in the following decades that hackers would discover just how far they could push the envelope.
Kevin Mitnick, perhaps the most famous of all hackers, was arrested on February 14, 1995. Mitnick had been alluding police, the FBI, and several other government agencies for over two years. During this time period, Mitnick had stolen millions of dollars worth of information from government, corporate, and university computer systems (Shimomura 1). Mitnick was so well respected in the hacking world that even today, government agencies are receiving terrorist threats demanding Mitnick s release from prison.
Today, millions of hackers like Mitnick are surfing the Internet waiting for a computer to attack. However, some hackers attack with no intent of computer damage or general harm. These hackers are sometimes called hacktivists . Usually this type of hacker will deface government and corporate web pages for the purpose of delivering a political, religious, or social message. The damage left by these hackers is minimal and very easy to correct (Triguax[Online]).
Security on the Internet is constantly growing bigger and stronger. Law enforcement officials have been trying to use this to stop as many hackers as possible. Encrypted passwords, firewalls, and tracing devices are all used to defer hacker activity (Cozic 34). But hackers are still figuring out ways to breach security in any way possible and make themselves bigger and stronger.
With this in mind, Canadian psychologist, Marc Rogers, broke down the term hacker into several subgroups to help police develop criminal profiles for hackers. Hackers can be profiled as newbies, cyberpunks, coders, insiders, or cyber terrorists. Newbies and cyberpunks are generally the type of hackers you hear about getting caught. These hackers have minimal computer knowledge and hack for thrills. With thrills comes bragging about accomplishments, and bragging is the quickest way to get caught. Coders and insiders are the next groups. Coders write the programs that hackers use. Insiders account for seventy to eighty percent of all malicious computer crimes. Coders and insiders are generally computer company employees and have easy access to computer systems. Finally, the most dangerous and notorious type of hacker is the cyber terrorist. Cyber terrorists are often hired by governments and corporations to steal information or sabotage rival companies. These computer experts make large amounts of money in this field. They use the most sophisticated equipment available and are rarely caught (Knittel and Soto 23, 24).
This profile gave an aid to categorizing computer crimes and criminals and helped give a better understanding of the levels of computer crime. However, it did not stop or even slow the activity of hacking. It leaves a person to wonder if hacking would ever be eradicated. New computer technology is developed by hackers. So they will always have the cutting edge on technology. To eliminate hackers would eliminate all use of computers (Galley[Online]. Perhaps things would have been better that way in the first place.
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