Computer Crime Essay Research Paper Computer CrimeComputer

Computer Crime Essay, Research Paper Computer Crime Computer crimes need to be prevented and halted thought increased computer network security measures as well as tougher laws and enforcement of

Computer Crime Essay, Research Paper

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 dependancy 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 sometimes very profitable. The average computer crime nets a total of

$650,000 (American, 1991 standards); more than seventy-two times that of the

average bank robbery.

Today’s Techno bandits generally fall one of three groups, listed in the

order of the threat they pose:

1. Current or former computer operations employees.

2. Career criminals who use computers to ply their trade.

3. The hacker.

Outsiders who break into computer systems are sometimes more of a threat,

but employees and ex-employees are usually in a better position to steal.

Because we rely more and more on computers, we also depend on those who make

them and run them. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the

fastest growing employment opportunities are in the field computers and data-

processing. Since money is a common motive for those who use their computing

know-how to break the law, losses from computer theft are expected to grow as

the number of computer employees rises.

The following are examples of how employees that work on computers can

gain profit at the employers expense:

In 1980, two enterprising ticket agents for TransWorld Airlines (TWA)

discovered how to make their employer’s computer work for them. The scam went

like this: When a passenger used cash to pay for a one-way ticket, Vince

Giovengo sent in the credit change form, which should have been discarded. He

kept the receipt the should have been given to the costumer for paying cash.

Samuel Paladina, who helped board passengers, kept the part of the traveler’s

ticket that should have been returned to the costumer. The two agents used

computers to reassemble the ticket from the pieces they had. They then marked

the ticket void, and kept the cash the traveler had paid. The swindle was

finally discovered by another employee who questioned the large number of voided

tickets, only after approximately $93,000 was taken.

The two TWA employees were tried in the United States and were convicted

of federal wire fraud in the United States. They each received six months in

prison as a result of their crime. The penalty they had to pay should have been

much, much higher, in order to prevent computers from being used in crimes in

the future. This is true for not just the United States and Canada, but for

every country in the world.

Another computer heist, one of the largest ever, involved several highly

placed employees of the Volkswagen car company of West Germany. In 1987 the

company discovered that these “loyal” workers had managed to steal $260 million

by re- programming the computers to disguise the company’s foreign currency

transactions. The workers that committed the crime received 10 years in

Germany’s prison system; not nearly as harsh as if they had stolen the money

through non- computerized means. This sets an example that computer crimes are

easy to execute, and are punished very lightly. This will evoke a downward

spiral; leading to more and more computer crimes.

For career criminals, computers represent a new medium for their illegal

actions. Computers only enhance the speed and quality of the crimes. Now the

professional criminals can steal or commit almost any other crime they want,

simply by the means of typing directions into the computer. Computers are

quickly being added to the list of the tools of crime.

Hackers often act in groups. The actions of several groups of hackers,

most notable are the Masters of Deception (MOD) and the Legion of Doom, have

been exposed in the media recently. These groups and most malicious hackers are

involved in computer crime for the profit available to them.

Individual hackers are often male teenagers. They comprise the majority

of the computer criminals, although they do pose a major threat to society’s

computer uses.

Computer criminals have various reasons for doing what they do. The

main reason computer crimes are being committed on the large scale that they are

is mainly for the profit. As earlier stated, the average computer crime nets

more than seventy-two times that of the average bank robbery. This is seen for

many skilled computer operators as a opportunity to make some quick profit.

Cybercrimes are usually only committed by people that would not commit any other

type of crime. This shows that the chances of getting caught and punished are

perceived as very low, a view that must be changed.

Some hackers feel that it is their social responsibly to keep the

cyberspace a free domain, with out authorities. This is accomplished by sharing

information, and removing the concept of property in cyberspace. Therefore,

they feel that it is proper to take information and share it. In their minds,

they have committed no crime, but from the victim’s eyes, they deserve to be

punished.

Other hackers think that it is a challenge to read other’s files and see

how far they can penetrate into a system. It is pure enjoyment for these

hackers to explore a new computer network. It becomes a challenge to gain

access to strange, new networks. They often argue that they are only curious

and cause no harm by merely exploring, but that is not always the case.

Where did my homework files go? Who is making charges to my credit

card? Sounds like someone is out for revenge. Computer have become a modern

day tool for seeking revenge. Here is an example: A computer system operator

was fired from CompuServe (a major Internet provider) and by the next day his

former manager’s credit card numbers had been distributed to thousands of people

via electronic bulletin boards. The manager’s telephone account had been

charged with thousands of long-distance phone calls, and his driver’s license

had been issued with hundreds of unpaid tickets. This shows the awesome power

of a knowledgeable hacker.

Also, these hackers try to maintain free services. Some of these free

services include Internet access, and long distance telephone access.

Banks and brokerage houses are major targets when stealing money is the

objective, because of their increased reliance on electronic funds transfer

(EFT). Using EFT, financial institutions and federal and provincial governments

pass billions of dollars of funds and assets back and forth over the phone lines

every day. The money transferred from bank to bank or account to account, is

used by sending telephone messages between computers. In the old days, B.

[efore] C. [omputers], transferring money usually involved armored cars and

security guards. Today, the computer operators simply type in the appropriate

instructions and funds are zipped across telephone lines from bank A to bank B.

These codes can be intercepted by hackers and used to gain credit card numbers,

ATM and personal identification numbers, as well as the actual money being

transferred. With the ATM and credit card numbers, they have access to all the

money in the corresponding accounts.

The act of changing data going into a computer or during the output from

the computer is called “data diddling”. One New Jersey bank suffered a $128,000

loss when the manager of computer operations made some changes in the account

balances. He transferred the money to accounts of three of his friends.

“Salami slicing” is a form of data diddling that occurs when an employee

steals small amounts of money from a large number of sources though the

electronic changing of data (like slicing thin pieces from a roll of salami).

For example, in a bank, the interest paid into accounts may routinely be rounded

to the nearest cent. A dishonest computer programer may change the program so

that all the fractions of the cents left over go into his account. This type of

theft is hard to detect because the books balance. The sum of money can be

extremely large, when taken from thousands of accounts over a period of time.

“Phone Phreaks” were the first hackers. They are criminals that break

into the telephone system though many various mean to gain free access to the

telephone network. Since telephone companies use large and powerful computers

to route their calls, they are an oblivious target to hackers.

Stealing information in the form of software (computer programs) is also

illegal. Making copies of commercial software, for re-sale or to give to others

is a crime. These types of crime represent the largest growing area of computer

crime. In one case, a group of teenagers pretending to be a software firm, sold

$350,000 dollars worth of stolen software to a Swiss electronics company.

While most hackers claim curiosity and a desire for profit as motives

for cracking computer systems, a few “dark-side hackers” seem to intentionally

harm others. For these individuals, computers are convenient tools of

wickedness. One crazed hacker broke into the North American Air Defense

computer system and the U.S. Armies MASNET computer network. While browsing the

files, officials say, he had the ability to launch missiles at the USSR. This

could have led the a nuclear war, and possibly the destruction of the world.

There are more than 1200 bugs out there, and the infections spread put

the victim out of action until the healing process begins (if there is a healing

process). This may sound like a description of the common cold or flu virus,

except that the virus does not attack people. This bug is made by human hands

and it attacks computers. It is spread though shared software, almost as easily

as a sneeze, and it can be every bit as weakening as the flu. Around the world

on March 6, 1992, computer users reported for work only to find that their

computers didn’t work. The machines had “crashed” due to Michelangelo. This

was a computer virus that was set to destroy all infected computers because it

was set to go off on the renaissance artist’s 517th birthday. Approximately

10,000 computers were hit world wide. The virus disabled the computers causing

millions of dollars worth of down-time and lost data.

Computer crimes are becoming more and more dangerous. New laws and

methods of enforcement need to be created; the evidence is above. An effort is

being made by governments, but it is not enough. The problem is a international

affair, and should be treated as such.

Current Canadian laws are some of the most lenient in industrialized

counties. They were also in place much later than other countries put their

laws about computer crime into effect, when compared to the United States and

Japan. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1985 included a number of specific

computer crime- related offences. Now, for the first time, Canadian law

enforcement agencies can lay charges relating to cybercrime. The following text

is an excerpt from the Martin’s Annual Canadian Criminal Code, 1995 edition:

326. (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently, maliciously, or without

colour of right,

(b) uses any telecommunication facility or obtains any telecommunication

service.

(2)In this section and section 327, “telecommunication” means any

transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images or sounds

or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, visual, or any other electro-

magnetic system. 342. 1 (1) Every one who, fraudulently and without colour of

right,

(a) obtains, directly or indirectly, any computer service,

(b) by means if an electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical or other

device, intercepts or causes to be intercepted, directly or indirectly, any

function of a computer system, or

(c) Uses or causes to be used, directly of indirectly, a computer system

with intent to commit and offence under paragraph (a) or (b) or an offence under

section 430 in relation to data or a computer system is guilty of an indictable

offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or is

guilty to an offence punishable on summary conviction. 430. (1.1) Every one

commits mischief who willfully

(a) destroys or alters data;

(b) renders data meaningless, useless or ineffective;

(c) obstructs, interrupts or interferes with any person in the lawful

use of data; or

(d) obstructs, interrupts of interferes with the lawful use of data or

denies access to data to any person who is entitled to access

thereto.

These Canadian are already outdated, and they are only eleven years old.

They need to be amended to include stiffer penalties. At the time of the

creation of the laws in 1985, they were deemed adequate, because computers

crimes were not looked upon as a serious issue with far-reaching effects. In

1996, computer crime has become a damaging and dangerous part of life. It is

now necessary to revamp these laws to include young offenders.

The young people committing some of these crimes have very detailed

knowledge of computer systems and computer programing. If they can handle this

type of knowledge, and commit these crimes, they should be able to foresee the

consequences of their actions. Most young hackers feel that they are bright,

and therefore should be able understand the results of their actions on other’s

computers and computer systems. The laws should treat these young offenders

like adults, because they realize what they are doing is wrong, and should

suffer the consequences.

Some of the computer crimes listed in the criminal code are only

summary offences; thus are not considered very serious. This spreads the

message to hackers that the crimes are not serious, but they are. Since the

hackers don’t view the crimes as serious, they are likely to commit more of them.

If the consequences of breaking any laws referring to computer crime were made

tougher, hackers would realize what they are doing is wrong. They will also see

other hackers being charged with offences under the criminal code ans figure out

that they may be next on the list to be punished for their actions.

Not only do these laws need to be made tougher, they need to be enforced

consistently. The Authorities must from all countries must have a conference to

discuss the need for consistent enforcement of the law referring to computer

crime. This is because computer crimes are truly international. A hacker in

Canada may break into a bank in Switzerland. Does the criminal get punished by

the laws of the U.S. or by the laws of Switzerland? This needs to be decided

upon.

The authorities must have special operations to stop computer crimes,

just as they do for drug trafficking. Much time must be devoted to stopping

these crimes, before it leads to disaster. The problem is getting out of hand

and the public must actively participate in cooperation with the authorities in

order to bring the problem under control.

Security is one matter that we can take into our own hands. Until new

laws are created and enforced, it is up to the general computer-using public to

protect themselves. The use of passwords, secure access multiports and common

sense can prevent computer crimes making victims of us all.

Passwords can add a remarkable amount of security to a computer system.

The cases where pass words have been cracked are rare. Included with the

password program must be a access restriction accessory. This limits the number

of guesses at a password to only a few tries, thus effectively eliminating 98%

of intruders.

Secure access multiports (SAM’s) are the best protection against

computer crime making a victim out of a computer user. When joining a network,

the user calls in and enters password and access code. The user is then

disconnected from the network. If the network recognizes the user as a valid

one, it will call the user back and allow he/she to log on. If the user was

invalid, the network will not attempt to re-connect with the user (see figure 1).

This prevents unwanted persons from logging on to a network.

Common sense is often the best defense against computer crime. Simple

things like checking and disinfecting for viruses on a regular basis, not

sharing your password or giving out your credit card number on online services

(ie: Internet). Also, employers can restrict access employees have to computers

at the place of employment. This would dissipate most computer crimes executed

by employees.

If new laws and enforcement of those law are not soon established, along

with heightened security measures, the world will have a major catastrophe as a

result of computer activity. The world is becoming increasingly dependant on

computers, and the crimes committed will have greater and greater impact as the

dependancy rises. The possible end of the world was narrowly averted, but was

caused by a computer crime. The United States defense computer system was

broken into, and the opportunity existed for the hacker to declare

intercontinental nuclear war; thus leading to death of the human race. Another

event like this is likely to occur if laws, enforcement of the laws and security

of computers are not beefed up. The greatest creation of all time, the computer,

should not lead the destruction of the race that created it.