Computer CrimeTHESIS: Laws must be passed to address the increase in the number and types of computercrimes. Over the last twenty years, a technological revolution has occurred as computers are now anessential element of today’s society.
Large computers are used to track reservations for the airlineindustry, process billions of dollars for banks, manufacture products for industry, and conductmajor transactions for businesses because more and more people now have computers at homeand at the office. People commit computer crimes because of society’s declining ethical standards more than anyeconomic need. According to experts, gender is the only bias. The profile of today’snon-professional thieves crosses all races, age groups and economic strata. Computer criminalstend to be relatively honest and in a position of trust: few would do anything to harm anotherhuman, and most do not consider their crime to be truly dishonest.Order now
Most are males: women havetended to be accomplices, though of late they are becoming more aggressive. Computer Criminalstend to usually be between the ages of 14-30, they are usually bright, eager, highly motivated,adventuresome, and willing to accept technical challenges. (Shannon, 16:2) It is tempting to liken computer criminals to other criminals, ascribing characteristics somehowdifferent from ‘normal’ individuals, but that is not the case. (Sharp, 18:3) It is believed that the computer criminaloften marches to the same drum as the potential victim but follows and unanticipatedpath.
(Blumenthal, 1:2) There is no actual profile of a computer criminal because they range fromyoung teens to elders, from black to white, from short to tall. Definitions of computer crime has changed over the years as the users and misusers of computershave expanded into new areas. When computers were first introduced into businesses, computercrime was defined simply as a form of white-collar crime committed inside a computersystem. (2600:Summer 92,p. 13) Some new terms have been added to the computer criminal vocabulary.
Trojan Horse is a hiddencode put into a computer program. Logic bombs are implanted so that the perpetrator doesn’thave to physically present himself or herself. (Phrack 12,p. 43) Another form of a hidden code issalamis. It came from the big salami loaves sold in delis years ago. Often people would takesmall portions of bites that were taken out of them and then they were secretly returned to theshelves in the hopes that no one would notice them missing.
(Phrack 12,p. 44) Congress has been reacting to the outbreak of computer crimes. The U. S.
House of JudiciaryCommittee approved a bipartisan computer crime bill that was expanded to make it a federalcrime to hack into credit and other data bases protected by federal privacy statutes. (Markoff, B13:1) This bill is generally creating several categories of federal misdemeanor felonies forunauthorized access to computers to obtain money, goods or services or classified information. This also applies to computers used by the federal government or used in interstate of foreigncommerce which would cover any system accessed by interstate telecommunication systems. Computer crime often requires more sophistications than people realize it. (Sullivan, 40:4) ManyU.
S. businesses have ended up in bankruptcy court unaware that they have been victimized bydisgruntled employees. American businesses wishes that the computer security nightmare wouldvanish like a fairy tale. Information processing has grown into a gigantic industry. It accounted for$33 billion in services in 1983, and in 1988 it was accounted to be $88 billion. (Blumenthal, B1:2) All this information is vulnerable to greedy employees, nosy-teenagers and general carelessness,yet no one knows whether the sea of computer crimes is only as big as the Gulf of Mexico or ashuge as the North Atlantic.
(Blumenthal,B 1:2) Vulnerability is likely to increase in the future. Andby the turn of the century, nearly all of the software to run computers will be bought from vendorsrather than developed in houses, standardized software will make theft easier. (Carley, A 1:1) A two-year secret service investigation code-named Operation Sun-Devil, targeted companies allover the United States and led to numerous seizures. Critics of Operation Sun-Devil claim that theSecret Service and the FBI, which have almost a similar operation, have conducted unreasonablesearch and seizures, they disrupted the lives and livelihoods of many people, and generallyconducted themselves in an unconstitutional manner.
My whole life changed because of thatoperation. They charged me and I had to take them to court. I have to thank 2600 and EmmanuelGoldstein for publishing my story. I owe a lot to the fellow hackers and fellow hackers and theElectronic Frontier Foundation for coming up with the blunt of the legal fees so we could fight forour rights. (Interview with Steve Jackson, fellow hacker, who was charged in operation SunDevil) The case of Steve Jackson Games vs.
Secret Service has yet to come to a verdict yet butshould very soon. The secret service seized all of Steve Jackson’s computer materials which hemade a living on. They charged that he made games that published information on how to commitcomputer crimes. He was being charged with running a underground hack system.
I told them itwas only a game and that I was angry and that was the way that I tell a story. I never thoughtHacker would cause such a problem. My biggest problem was that theyseized the BBS (Bulletin Board System) and because of that I had to make drastic cuts, so we laidof eight people out of 18. If the Secret Service had just come with a subpoena we could haveshowed or copied every file in the building for them. (Steve Jackson Interview) Computer professionals are grappling not only with issues of free speech and civil liberties, butalso with how to educate the public and the media to the difference between on-line computerexperimenters.
They also point out that, while the computer networks and the results are a newkind of crime, they are protected by the same laws and freedom of any real world domain. A 14-year old boy connects his home computer to a television line, and taps into the computer athis neighborhood bank and regularly transfers money into his personnel account. (2600:Spring93,p. 19) On paper and on screens a popular new mythology is growing quickly in whichcomputer criminals are the ‘Butch Cassidys’ of the electronic age. These true tales of computercapers are far from being futuristic fantasies.
(2600:Spring 93:p. 19) They are inspired by scores ofreal life cases. Computer crimes are not just crimes against the computer, but it is also against thetheft of money, information, software, benefits and welfare and many more. With the average damage from a computer crime amounting to about $.
5 million, sophisticatedcomputer crimes can rock the industry. (Phrack 25,p. 6) Computer crimes can take on manyforms. Swindling or stealing of money is one of the most common computer crime. An example ofthis kind of crime is the Well Fargo Bank that discovered an employee was using the bankscomputer to embezzle $21.
3 million, it is the largest U. S. electronic bank fraud on record. (Phrack23,p. 46) Credit Card scams are also a type of computer crime.
This is one that fears many people and forgood reasons. A fellow computer hacker that goes by the handle of Raven is someone who useshis computer to access credit data bases. In a talk that I had with him he tried to explain what hedid and how he did it. He is a very intelligent person because he gained illegal access to a creditdata base and obtained the credit history of local residents.
He then allegedly uses the residentsnames and credit information to apply for 24 Mastercards and Visa cards. He used the cards toissue himself at least 40,000 in cash from a number of automatic teller machines. He was caughtonce but was only withdrawing $200 and in was a minor larceny and they couldn’t prove that hewas the one who did the other ones so he was put on probation. I was 17 and I needed moneyand the people in the underground taught me many things. I would not go back and not do what Idid but I would try not to get caught next time. I am the leader of HTH (High Tech Hoods) andwe are currently devising other ways to make money.
If it weren’t for my computer my life wouldbe nothing like it is today. (Interview w/Raven) Finally, one of the thefts involving the computer is the theft of computer time. Most of us don’trealize this as a crime, but the congress consider this as a crime. (Ball,V85) Everyday people areurged to use the computer but sometimes the use becomes excessive or improper or both.
Forexample, at most colleges computer time is thought of as free-good students and faculty oftencomputerizes mailing lists for their churches or fraternity organizations which might be written off asgood public relations. But, use of the computers for private consulting projects without payment ofthe university is clearly improper. In business it is the similar. Management often looks the other way when employees playcomputer games or generate a Snoopy calendar. But, if this becomes excessive the employees isstealing work time. And computers can only process only so many tasks at once.
Althoughconsidered less severe than other computer crimes such activities can represent a major businessloss. While most attention is currently being given to the criminal aspects of computer abuses, it is likelythat civil action will have an equally important effect on long term security problems. (Alexander,V119) The issue of computer crimes draw attention to the civil or liability aspects in computingenvironments. In the future there may tend to be more individual and class action suits. CONCLUSION Computer crimes are fast and growing because the evolution of technology is fast, but theevolution of law is slow.
While a variety of states have passed legislation relating to computercrime, the situation is a national problem that requires a national solution. Controls can be institutedwithin industries to prevent such crimes. Protection measures such as hardware identification,access controls software and disconnecting critical bank applications should be devised. However, computers don’t commit crimes; people do.
The perpetrator’s best advantage isignorance on the part of those protecting the system. Proper internal controls reduce theopportunity for fraud. BIBLIOGRAPHYAlexander, Charles, Crackdown on Computer Capers, Time, Feb. 8, 1982, V119.
Ball, Leslie D. , Computer Crime, Technology Review, April 1982, V85. Blumenthal,R. Going Undercover in the Computer Underworld.
New York Times, Jan. 26,1993, B, 1:2. Carley, W. As Computers Flip, People Lose Grip in Saga of Sabatoge at Printing Firm. WallStreet Journal, Aug.
27, 1992, A, 1:1. Carley, W. In-House Hackers: Rigging Computers for Fraud or Malice Is Often an Inside Job. Wall Street Journal, Aug 27, 1992, A, 7:5. Markoff, J.
Hackers Indicted on Spy Charges. New York Times, Dec. 8, 1992, B, 13:1. Finn, Nancy and Peter, Don’t Rely on the Law to Stop Computer Crime, Computer World,Dec. 19, 1984, V18.
Phrack Magazine issues 1-46. Compiled by Knight Lightning and Phiber Optik. Shannon, L R. THe Happy Hacker. New York Times, Mar. 21, 1993, 7, 16:2.
Sharp, B. The Hacker Crackdown. New York Times, Dec. 20, 1992, 7, 18:3.
Sullivan, D. U. S. Charges Young Hackers.
New York Times, Nov. 15, 1992, 1, 40:4. 2600: The Hacker Quarterly. Issues Summer 92-Spring 93. Compiled by Emmanuel