Monday, August 1, 2011

The Different Types of Computer Crimes and the Harm They Cause

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The Different Types of Computer Crimes and the Harm They Cause

Technology in this world is changing day to day, hour to hour, and minute to minute; a company might believe they have reached the climax of expectations in this world but before they know it, someone has surpassed them and come up with new devices. The truth is that the technology world has grown tremendously in the past six years and we can expect to see nearly three, if not four times that amount within the next two years! This concept, as shocking as it may seem, is quite irrelevant to the number of crimes associated with computers. The problem is that the general public goes on their day to day lives and they do not have the clear idea about the amount of computer crime being committed each day. There can be someone that you may not even know that lives on the other side of the world and this person could be “hacking” into your computer to steal information about you or other confidential documents that you definitely do not want some stranger to view. Many believe everything on their computer is safe from harm, which is like saying the world is flat! That statement has never been more wrong. Many serious computer crimes in this world damage many companies and human beings. Most of these crimes, the general public does not understand, or even have knowledge to what the term “computer crime” means.

There are many crimes that relate to this topic and the true definition for computer crime is; “Computer crimes are any violations of criminal law that involve knowledge of computer technology for their preparation, investigation, or prosecution” (Parker, ). All known computer crimes are relevant to these following roles; object, subject, instrument, symbol (Parker, ). “Objective cases involve any destruction of computers, data, or any

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technology laid out in this world”. This would include air conditioning, automobiles, machinery, or any instrument involving a computer like chip. “Subject cases are any crimes that are committed by the theft of computer software” (Software Piracy), fraud perpetuated by changing account balances in financial data (Trojan horse), or fraudulently stealing money from transactions (Salami Shaving). “Instrument cases involve the actual computers tools and instruments”. This crime could be committed through developing and spreading computer viruses over the World Wide Web (WWW). “Symbol cases involve the use of intimidation or deception where an organization falsely claims that they used nonexistent computers or technology” (Parker, ). If you may have not already realized, computer crime involves many different areas. In fact, computers have been involved in many other types of crime as well, including fraud, theft, larceny, embezzlement, bribery, burglary, sabotage, espionage, extortion, attempted murder, manslaughter, pornography, trespassing, violation of privacy, and kidnapping (Parker, ). Many believe that computer crimes are merely crimes that are committed within a computer, but this concept has broadened to realization that many, if not all crimes committed can involve computers and technology.

When looking at computer crimes, there are many different subjects and topics available, from eavesdropping which involves tapping voice wires and spying, to the most serious of crimes which involve software piracy and computer hacking. However, the most common and most serious crimes are placed into these categories; Invasion of personal privacy, salami fraud techniques which are bank account frauds commonly used through steeling money from transactions being made through a bank, telephone toll

fraud, hacking computer intrusion, Trojan horse attacks, software piracy, interference with communications, radio frequency emanation monitoring, and computer virus attacks (Parker, 6). Each of these crimes cause very serious damage to the privacy and finances of both the general public and many industries such as Microsoft, Adobe, HP, Compaq, and virtually any company that has any resemblance to computers. These crimes also cause serious damage to the Government and FBI. According to the Cyber Crime division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a computer security institute surveyed 50 organizations and all together, they reported nearly $456 million dollars in damage due to computer crime in the last year. They also reported a loss of over $1 billion from computer crime within the past 6 years (Garfinkel, The FBI’s Cyber Crime). Although these agencies have a virtually un-breakable firewall that is almost impossible to hack into, there still is a way and someone out there will find the hole to break into their system. So who is it that causes all this damage to the world of computers and why do they do it? According to the Ethics, Computer Crimes, Security and Health Issues, the common profile of a computer criminal is mostly male, somewhere between the ages of 1 and 5, they work mostly with computers, and are generally very brilliant. There major motives behind the crimes they perform are economical, ideological, psychological, and egocentric (Computer Crimes, Ethics). We will get more into the types of people that deal with computer crime later on.

Computer hacking is a specific type of computer crime that almost always involves some type of illegal access others privacy or damage to computer-based property such as files, web pages, or software (Stone, Computer Hacking). This is


basically the crime that summarizes all the cyber crimes; computer hacking is the most committed computer crime and is also the most misused term. This is the crime that can go from just being simply invasive and annoying to being illegal. According to the New Hacker’s Dictionary, “a hacker can be defined as; (1) A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary. () One who programs enthusiastically (even obsessively) or who enjoys programming rather than just theorizing about programming. () A person capable of appreciating hack value. (4) A person who is good at programming quickly. (5) An expert at a particular program, or one who frequently does work using it or on it. (6) An expert or enthusiast of any kind. One might be an astronomy hacker, for example. (7) One who enjoys the intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations. (8) A malicious meddler who tries to discover sensitive information by poking around. Hence ‘password hacker’, ‘network hacker’. The correct term for this sense is a cracker, or a malicious hacker (Stone, Computer Hacking)”. Although these definitions do not relate completely to computer hackers, each person who commits this crime has a desire or characteristic with all these categories.

Now computer hacking can also be a legal and non-criminal action. Companies hire people to break into their systems so that they can test their computers and firewalls to make sure that they have the best protection available. These people are called “good hackers”, or hackers that are doing good deeds for companies. In fact, this is why the


term “hacker” is so misused, there are actually more “good hackers” in the world then there are the illegal hackers. That is where the term malicious hacker or “cracker” comes into play. These are the illegal hackers that break into systems and document files to steal information, disrupt files, and destroy important documents. Crackers can also be people to break into systems just to see if they can and end up causing damage while they are inside. These are the criminals and the ones that are doing so much damage to federal and government agencies.

The scary part about this crime is that using the WWW, any person in the World can access the computer that you sit in front of every night before you go to bed, the same computer that you put all you information on, including documents that you would not even let your own spouse look at. It is scary to think of that and you may be saying there’s no way some one would want to break into my computer, what do I have for them to steal or look at? But the fact is there is most definitely someone who breaks into your computer every day. I recently downloaded a program called Zone Alarm which is a firewall program that stops any information or any outsiders from getting into your computer. What is really interesting about this program is that (A.) It first asks you (the user) if you would like to let a download take place, or view a certain web page. It also stops any person from getting into your computer and ask you if you would like to allow them in or if you want to deny their request. (B) The program also tells you how many intrusion alerts their have been on your computer. Or more basically, how many people have been trying to access your computer. (C) It then allows you to track down these intruders and it gives you all the information about this person or company and how to


turn them into the authorities. Now the scary part of this is when I downloaded the program, I never dreamed someone would be accessing my computer but by the end of the day, the total number of intrusions on my computer had reached over 00 and was climbing rapidly. Over 00 people and companies had tried to access my computer at home in one single day! That is 1,400 intrusions in one week, 6,000 in a month, and 7,000 intrusions in one year alone! As scary as those numbers may seem, that is just the beginning of hackers and crackers.

So how has it become so easy for strangers to access my computer at home, or for that matter, how is it so easy for human beings to steal information, disrupt confidential files, and steal credit card numbers and bank accounts. Well, we can start by this simple problem, if one has a computer and access to the internet, then they can easily become a computer hacker or even a cracker. A simple search of the term “hacker” on any search engine will give you hundreds of links to illegal serial numbers, and virtually any information and programs to hack into any file, computer, or software. I found programs that you can buy on certain web-sites that will allow you to steal money from any casino in Las Vegas, I found lock picking devices, television smart card readers that allow you to change any information on any computer you want, portable magnetic stripe card readers/writers that will allow you to change any information on stripe cards (I.E. Drivers Licenses), computer keystroke grabbers and memory that will record any button that has been pushed on any keyboard, this is used for things like stealing passwords and tracking all information typed onto the computer. I found devices that allow a person to change their bad credit and give themselves a “good name”, ATM machine hacking equipment; I


even found programs to change your grade in a school class. Each and every one of these programs comes with easy step by step instructions that even my grandma could follow. It’s as easy as 1, , and . You find the program, purchase it, and your off to committing some very serious crimes. The effects of these programs are very extreme but are virtually impossible to track and in that case impossible to arrest and prosecute the criminals because the crimes are committed anonymously, basically it’s like the criminal doesn’t even exist. This is why the rate of computer crime has shot up so high in the world. Law enforcements can do anything they want to try and track these criminals but it’s virtually impossible to find them. Any person can do this and it can even seem to them like it was not that great of a crime. For example, an adolescent who never considered picking some ones pocket or physically damaging some one else’s property or home, might be quite willing to steal someone else’s credit card numbers or destroy poorly protected business or government files, since files and credit card numbers are not tangible entities, and damage is done anonymously (Stone, Computer Hacking).

So what can be done to protect yourself from these crimes since the government can’t do much to stop it? For computer related crimes, you can download different firewall programs and protection software. There are many out there, some are free and some cost money to purchase but they are merely around $5 or so. Zone Alarm is one of the most commonly used software and it also seems to work the best out of them all. You can download a free software package that will protect you from any intrusions known to man, or you can pay $.5 for their complete package which will not only protect you from any threat known to man, it will also give you the ability to track the


source of any intrusion, it also includes many different kinds of software that will protect your e-mail and even stop those annoying pop-up adds. There are other downloads such as Firewall Analyzer, Shields Up, ZD Net, Cyber Protect, or you can go all out and purchase McAfee or Norton Anti-Virus software packages that protect you from viruses all together. These seem to run from around 0-50 dollars and you can find these programs at virtually any general store such as Wal-Mart, Fred Myer, Office Max, etc… or anywhere on the WWW.

The next serious crime involving computers is Software Piracy. Software Piracy is the unauthorized duplication of computer software. Although many computer users know that this is most definitely a federal crime and it has its punishments, many disregard this importance of treating software as valuable intellectual property (What is Software Piracy). This crime is the one that is most commonly committed and is most often committed without the knowledge of the criminal. It can be classified into six different areas; “(1) soft lifting which is purchasing the software and then loading it onto many different computers contrary to the license terms. For example, loading the software onto your friend’s computer even though this action is not allowed due to the license terms of the product. () Uploading and downloading which is making copies of software available to any user through the WWW. This is mainly used through PP networks which is file sharing software available for free through the internet that will download virtually any program, audio file, video file, or document the user wants to. () Software counterfeiting which is illegal duplicating and selling copies of copyrighted software in a form designed to make it appear legitimate. (4) OEM unbundling which is

selling stand alone software that was intended to be bundled with specific accompanying hardware. (5) Hard disk loading; this involves installing unauthorized copies of the software onto the hard disks of personal computers. (6) Renting which is unauthorized selling of the software for temporary use (Types of Software Piracy)”.

There are many different ways that these crimes can be committed. However, the three most common crimes are soft lifting, uploading and downloading, and software counterfeiting. Each of these crimes have caused major damage to industries such as Microsoft and Adobe. An estimated $1 billion was lost due to counterfeiting, that’s 15% of the industries $80 billion in worldwide sales, and an estimated 7% of the software sold worldwide is fake. That’s five illegal copies for every, one legal copy that is distributed legally. The internet knows no boundaries, a decade ago, small time crooks made small copies of software but now, these small time nobodies have turned into multi-million dollar organizations (Software Piracy Takes Toll on Global Scale, www.usatoday.com). According to the BSA Piracy study, the following amounts in billions were lost to industries and other companies around the world in 000 and 001 (Software Piracy, www.ealaddin.com).


So how is this happening? “One way is through agencies and gangs that purchase a single program from a company and then copy the entire package from plastic wrapping to the owner’s certificate of authenticity. Computer scientists then duplicate the software by reading the computer code and copying it onto a master disk” (Ethics, Computer Crimes, Security and Health Issues). Another way is through simple downloading software off the internet. It has become virtually effortless to download $5,000 programs off the internet and through these networks at the mere cost of connecting to the internet. The third way is to just simply purchase one product and then place it onto you family or friend’s computer and saving $10,000 just from doing this. The only problem is that you are basically stealing $10,000 from the company that produced the product.

Industries are doing every thing they can to try and stop this crime but unfortunately, that is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack, there are culprits everywhere in the world. “Microsoft has a search engine that prowls the internet searching for pirated software; they also have hired former federal and police investigators, staged stings and fed information to prosecutors on hundreds of criminal cases. Adobe also has investigators prowling Web sites, hunting for illegal software” (Iwata, Edward. “Software Piracy Takes Toll on Global Scale” USA Today. August 1, 001). Each and every major software distributor has employees working round the clock to find different ways to protect their software from being pirated but this is a never ending problem.


Computers and technology have reached an all time high in the past years and that number is expected to multiply by nearly four times that amount within the next two years and unfortunately, this also means that computer crime will also increase

significantly and there is no way to stop it for good. The government can find a way to control it slightly, but they will never be able to erase it. For every file, there is a way to hack into it. For every Software and program, there is a way to Pirate and copy it, and for every computer, there will be crimes that associate with them. You can protect yourself from most crimes, but there is still a high chance that you will be a victim to computer crime, or for that fact, you could even be the criminal and not even know it. That is the sacrifice that we as Americans have to face for are every want and need for new technology.

Works Cited

Aladdin. What is Software Piracy 6 February 00


Aladdin. Types of Software Piracy 6 February 00


Computer Crimes. Ethics, Computer Crimes, Security and Health Issues 6 Feb. 00


Iwata, Edward. Software Piracy Takes Toll on Global Scale 6 February 00


Parker, Donn B. Computer Crime General Justice Resource Manual

SRI International, 188

Stone, David M. Computer Hacking 6 February 00


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