Internet Crimes Essay Research Paper Internet crimeThe

Internet Crimes Essay, Research Paper

Internet crime

The Internet is a wondrous place. Practically anything you could ever want

is available on the Net. It’s like a big city, it has the highly

prestigious areas, and the sex-ridden slums. It has the upstanding

citizens, and it has the criminals. On the Net, crime is more abundant

than in a large city, though, mainly because of the difficulties in

tracking and prosecuting offenders. Even from its beginnings, the Internet

has always been a battlefield between phreaks and administrators.

The Internet hasn’t always been a public forum. In fact, the Internet has

been around for years. The Internet is just a new fad (”The More I Learn”

A1). The Internet originally began as DARPANET, a government-created

network, which was designed for defense communications. The Net structure

is such that it could survive a nuclear war (”Internet History”). The

creation of the Net can not be blamed for the existence of hackers though,

hackers are older than the Net itself, but the Net is the largest ‘hacker

haven’ today (Spencer, “Hacking McDonalds” 6).

The growth of the Net since its creation has been nothing less than

astounding. In the 25-plus years since its creation, the Net now has over

thirty million users using four million sites worldwide. Estimates rate

the growth of the Net anywhere from ten to fifteen percent per month

(Spencer, “Hacking McDonalds” 6).

The Internet was first released to major universities in the United States

of America. Since then, the universities have offered connections to small

business, service providers, and even to the individual user. Sometimes

these connections cost a fortune, and sometimes they can be obtained for

free (”Internet History”). Although some of the original universities have

dropped off the Net for various reasons, every major university in the

United States, and now, most others in the world, have a connection to the

Internet (Quittner 61).

Although it isn’t easy for an individual to get a direct connection to the

Net, many private institutions are getting connections. This is mainly due

to the fact that in order to support the very high speed of the Net, a fast

computer is needed and a fast connection. A fast computer can cost in the

tens of thousands of dollars, at least, and a fast connection can cost

twenty thousand dollars or more, followed by a few thousand dollars a year.

Individuals can still get on the Net through these private institutions.

The private institution spoon-feeds the Net to the slower computers over

their slower connection lines (Spencer, “Stranglehold” 8).

The Internet began very high-class, due to the fact that only

superintelligent college students and professors could access it. The

discussions tended to stay intellectual, with very little, if any,

disturbance (”Internet History”).

However, relatively recent changes in the availability of the Net have

changed that atmosphere. Now, almost anyone can access the Internet.

Internet access is offered by every major online service (Himowitz A1).

The fact that the major online services charge for their use keeps many

people away from them. Those people simply turn to public dial-ups, which

are free connections offered by universities that are available to the

general public (Spencer, “Know Your Territory” 27).

Because accessing the Net is easier, and a lot more people are doing it,

naturally the amount of information on the Net is increasing at the same

rate, if not faster. In what is often referred to by Net users as the

Resource Explosion, the amount of information circulating the Internet has

increased more than proportionately with the number of users (Spencer,

“Hacking McDonalds” 6).

Of all the other factors contributing to the large percent of online crimes,

perhaps the most influential is the design structure of the Internet.

Experts agree that the underlying structure with no central hub, where each

computer is equally powerful, gives unchecked power to the undeserving

(Spencer, “Stranglehold” 8).

The design also makes controlling the frequency of break-ins almost

impossible as well. Both politicians and so-called ‘experts’ believe the

Internet as a whole will be regulated in the next five years. Hackers

disagree, using the arguments that the Internet was designed to be

uncontrollable, that the basic structure doesn’t support regulation

(Spencer, “Stranglehold” 8). I must agree. In a network run by its users,

which is designed to be impervious to attack, not even the government has

much muscle there.

In fact, the Internet is one of the few places that the government has

little power. Because the Net is international, any regulations forced

upon domestic computer users can be circumvented by routing through an

overseas computer (Savage). The government doesn’t have the power to

completely shut down the Net. In order to do that, every one of the

millions of computers on the Net must be disconnected. Even if only two

remain, the Net will continue to exist (Spencer, “Hacking McDonalds” 6).

To ease of adding something to the Net is also a factor preventing the

total regulation of the Net. A new site can be added to the Net in a

matter of seconds, and can be removed just as quickly. It takes

authorities considerable time to trace a connection back to it’s physical

address, and if it disappears, it makes tracking it all that more difficult

(FtS, “Avoiding”).

Once a resource becomes widespread, removing it from the Internet is almost

impossible. Each site that has the resource must be found and the resource

removed. If even one site has the resource, it can spread to cover the Net

easily (Spencer, “Stranglehold” 8).

With all these things leaving the Internet open to phreaking, is it any

wonder that so many phreaks exist? The United States Government has all of

its computer systems on the Internet, yet many universities have better

security than government computers containing confidential information

(Spencer, “Know” 27). A majority of break-ins occur in university

computers, mainly because of the stiff penalties for being caught in a

government computer (FtS, “Avoiding”). Over 10,000 break-ins that have

occurred in recent months are blamed on The Posse, a group of young phreaks

(Quittner 61). If break-ins are done on universities, then how secure are

the government’s secrets?

Both hackers and phreakers tend to stay away from heavy-duty government

hacking, though. Exploring innocently and generally harmless pranks are

done the most, and many hacks/phreaks don’t limit themselves to the

Internet, or even to a computer (Spencer, “Hacking McDonalds” 6). The next

step up for a good computer hack/phreak is to ‘field phreaking’, which

covers many various activities, but mainly using telephone company boxes to

make free calls and other various things, but most field phreaking is

somehow technically related to their computer skills (FtS, “Field


Field phreaking does happen, and it does happen quite a lot. For example,

when two bachelors rented a billboard in hopes of finding a mate, a phreak

broke into their voice mail box and changed the message to a “‘perverted’

sexually suggestive message” (UPI).

More recently, a hacker obtained tens of thousands of passwords using a

Trojan horse program, which records the first 128 keystrokes when someone

connects to the Internet. These 128 keystrokes normally contain the user’s

name and their password (AP).

Kevin Lee Poulsen was featured on Unsolved Mysteries in 1991 for charges

including tampering with the telephone network and stealing government

documents, all via computer. Because of this appearance, he was captured

by two bag-boys in a Hughes Supermarket who saw his picture on the show

(Fine 62).

Tonya Harding’s E-mail in the Olympic computers was “open to the public

since she never changed her password from it’s default, 1112, which

corresponds to her birthday, December 11th” (Nevius).

Mark Abene, whom many believe to be the greatest phreak ever, who is known

online as Phiber Optik, was sentenced to one year in prison, a stiff

punishment for his charge of breaking into a telephone network (Deadkat).

Although the job is hard, there are groups devoted to stopping violations

committed online. One such group, the Computer Emergency Response Team, or

CERT, a government-funded team at Carnegie-Mellon University gives

advisories and support to systems that have been broken into or are at risk

of being broken into (”Internet History”).

Another method of preventing break-ins are new security measures. Almost

every day, another operating system or communication protocol comes out

which covers holes found in previous copies of the software. This is good

as a temporary solution, but as soon as the new software comes out, a new

hole is found and the game continues (FtS, “Avoiding”).

Stopping computer hacking is probably impossible, although undoubtedly

stopping hacking altogether is impossible. Why? Because many

professionals spend millions of dollars to prevent break-ins, but smaller

systems don’t spend anything. Free security will never be able to hold

everyone out. FtS Productions said it best in “Avoiding Detection”: “Free

Security You get what you pay for.”


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