Addressing the Increase in the number and Types of Computer Crimes

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Addressing the Increase in the number and Types of Computer Crimes

THESIS: 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. 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 criminal”often 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 is”salamis.” It came from the big salami loaves sold in delis years ago. Often peoplewould 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, B

13:1) 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 becauseof 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 [Steve Jackson’s game] 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 issue.............


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