Computer Fraud And Crimes Essay Research Paper

Computer Fraud And Crimes Essay, Research Paper

Computer Fraud and Crimes

In the world of computers, computer fraud and computer crime are very prevalent

issues facing every computer user. This ranges from system administrators to

personal computer users who do work in the office or at home. Computers without

any means of security are vulnerable to attacks from viruses, worms, and illegal

computer hackers. If the proper steps are not taken, safe computing may become

a thing of the past. Many security measures are being implemented to protect

against illegalities.

Companies are becoming more aware and threatened by the fact that their

computers are prone to attack. Virus scanners are becoming necessities on all

machines. Installing and monitoring these virus scanners takes many man hours

and a lot of money for site licenses. Many server programs are coming equipped

with a program called “netlog.” This is a program that monitors the computer use

of the employees in a company on the network. The program monitors memory and

file usage. A qualified system administrator should be able to tell by the

amounts of memory being used and the file usage if something is going on that

should not be. If a virus is found, system administrators can pinpoint the user

who put the virus into the network and investigate whether or not there was any

malice intended.

One computer application that is becoming more widely used and, therefore, more

widely abused, is the use of electronic mail or email. In the present day,

illegal hackers can read email going through a server fairly easily. Email

consists of not only personal transactions, but business and financial

transactions. There are not many encryption procedures out for email yet. As

Gates describes, soon email encryption will become a regular addition to email

just as a hard disk drive has become a regular addition to a computer (Gates


Encrypting email can be done with two prime numbers used as keys. The public

key will be listed on the Internet or in an email message. The second key will

be private, which only the user will have. The sender will encrypt the message

with the public key, send it to the recipient, who will then decipher it again

with his or her private key. This method is not foolproof, but it is not easy to

unlock either. The numbers being used will probably be over 60 digits in length

(Gates p.98-99).

The Internet also poses more problems to users. This problem faces the home

user more than the business user. When a person logs onto the Internet, he or

she may download a file corrupted with a virus. When he or she executes that

program, the virus is released into the system. When a person uses the World

Wide Web(WWW), he or she is downloading files into his or her Internet browser

without even knowing it. Whenever a web page is visited, an image of that page

is downloaded and stored in the cache of the browser. This image is used for

faster retrieval of that specific web page. Instead of having to constantly

download a page, the browser automatically reverts to the cache to open the

image of that page. Most people do not know about this, but this is an example

of how to get a virus in a machine without even knowing it.

Every time a person accesses the Internet, he or she is not only accessing the

host computer, but the many computers that connect the host and the user. When

a person transmits credit card information, it goes over many computers before

it reaches its destination. An illegal hacker can set up one of the connecting

computers to copy the credit card information as it passes through the computer.

This is how credit card fraud is committed with the help of the Internet. What

companies such as Maxis and Sierra are doing are making secure sites. These

sites have the capabilities to receive credit card information securely. This

means the consumer can purchase goods by credit card over the Internet without

worrying that the credit card number will be seen by unauthorized people.

System administrators have three major weapons against computer crime. The

first defense against computer crime is system security. This is the many

layers systems have against attacks. When data comes into a system, it is

scanned for viruses and safety. Whenever it passes one of these security layers,

it is scanned again. The second resistance against viruses and corruption is

computer law. This defines what is illegal in the computer world. In the early

1980’s, prosecutors had problems trying suspect in computer crimes because there

was no definition of illegal activity. The third defense is the teaching of

computer ethics. This will hopefully defer people from becoming illegal hackers

in the first place (Bitter p. 433). There are other ways companies can protect

against computer fraud than in the computer and system itself. One way to

curtail computer fraud is in the interview process and training procedures. If

it is made clear to the new employee that honesty is valued in the company, the

employee might think twice about committing a crime against the company.

Background checks and fingerprinting are also good ways to protect against

computer fraud.

Computer crime prevention has become a major issue in the computer world. The

lack of knowledge of these crimes and how they are committed is a factor as to

why computer crime is so prevalent. What must be realized is that the “weakest

link in any system is the human” (Hafner and Markoff p. 61). With the

knowledge and application of the preventative methods discussed, computer crime

may actually become an issue of the past.

Works Cited

Bitter, Gary G., ed. The MacMillian Encyclopedia of Computers. MacMillian

Publishing Company: New York, 1992.

Gates, William. The Road Ahead. New York : Penguin Books, 1995.

Hafner, Katie & John Markoff. Cyberpunk. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1991.

Romney, Marshall. “Computer Fraud ? What Can Be Done About It?” CPA Journal

Vol. 65 (May 1995): p. 30-33.


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