Preventing and combating cyber crimes
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Recent and anticipated changes in technology arising from the convergence of communications and computing are truly breathtaking, and have already had a significant impact on many aspects of life. Banking, stock exchanges, air traffic control, telephones, electric power, health care, welfare and education are largely dependent on information technology and telecommunications for their operation. We are moving towards the point where it is possible to assert that everything depends on software. This exponential growth, and the increase in its capacity and accessibility coupled with the decrease in cost, has brought about revolutionary changes in every aspect of human civilization, including crime.The increased capacities of information systems today come at the cost of increased vulnerability. Information technology has begun to produce criminal opportunities of a variety that the brightest criminals of yore couldn’t even begin to dream about. Nowadays, the one place that people thought they were secure could be one of the most dangerous areas in society. Computer use is increasingly spreading, and more and more users are connecting to the Internet. The Internet is a source for almost anybody to access, manipulate and destroy others’ information. These “criminal activities directly related to the use of computers, specifically illegal trespass into the computer system or database of another, manipulation or theft of stored on-line data, or sabotage of equipment and data” are defined as computer crimes according to the American heritage dictionary (2000). Even though companies strive hard to prevent these criminal activities, companies are still fighting a losing war against computer invasions (“Experts: Computer Hacking”, 1999). Although computer “hacking” has become a growing concern, much is being done to address this problem. To better understand the situation, users and companies must be aware of the indicators that problems with computer crime do exist. One of these indicators is that many companies are involved in computer crimes. Eighty-five percent of companies reported security breaches in their systems, and 94% detected viruses in their systems in 2001 (“Computer Crime Soaring,” 2002). Furthermore, the U. S. Defense Department was also hacked many times. It alone was hit by about 250,000 hacks in 1995 (Allbritton, 1998). These hacks aren’t minor, hack damages cost a lot of money. Hacking resulted in a cost of about 377 million dollars (“Computer Crime Soaring,” 2002). This problem is also rising and needs to be quelled. Break-ins are rising rapidly and double every year (“Experts: Computer Hacking,” 1999). Companies and users must also be aware of who the hackers are and of their victims. The victims of hacks come in an extensive range. The major targets for most hackers are fortune 500 companies, who are big names and make a lot of money (Allbritton, 1998). “If this [breach of security system] could happen to Microsoft, this can happen to anybody,” said Sandra England, president of PGP Security (Markoff, 2000, p. A5). The fact is, though, that every online--computer user is at risk. A hacker can penetrate virtually any computer on the Internet if he has the right tools (“Experts: Computer Hacking,” 1999). In addition to knowing the victims, users and companies should know who the hackers really are. The real bad guys are often just mischievous youth trying to steal credit cards or breaking into advanced systems. A hacker going by the pseudonym “Route” says the major hackers are generally “this tiny minority of 13- to 18-year olds who learned to make toll calls for free” (Allbritton, 1998, p. A4). Moreover, some people even hack in online gaming to steal another’s virtual items, which can also be sold over the Internet for money (Ward, 2003). Most hackers, though, are actually crackers and don’t hack to do real damage but only want to embarrass big-name companies (Ma, n.d.). However, many people are still accessing data with criminal intent. These people can vary from revengeful employees trying to backstab their company to foreign spies wanting to access government files. Some do it simply to steal money, valuable objects or code (Allbritton, 1998). Interestingly enough, half of unauthorized system intrusions involve insiders who actually have legitimate access to the system (Schindler, 2000).