Delving Into Computer Crime

Delving Into Computer Crime White-collar crime, specifically computer crime, is becoming more popular as computers become more readily available. Crimes using computers and crimes against computers are usually committed without fear of being caught, due to the detachment of the offender from the victim. Computer crime is defined as, “Criminal activity directly related to the use of computers, specifically illegal trespass into the computer system or database of another, manipulation or theft of stored or on-line data, or sabotage of equipment and data.”(1). This includes both crimes using computers and crimes against computers. The people who commit these crimes are of a wide variety. Cyber-criminals can be put in generally seven categories: Pranksters: These individuals perpetrate tricks on others.

They generally do not intend any particular or long-lasting harm. A large portion is juvenile. Hackers: These individuals explore others’ computer systems for education, out of curiosity, to achieve idealized social justice, or to compete with their peers. They may be attempting to gain the use of a more powerful computer, gain respect from fellow hackers, build a reputation, or gain acceptance as an expert without formal education. Malicious hackers (crackers): These individuals are intent on causing loss to satisfy some antisocial motives or just for fun. Many computer virus creators and distributors fall into this category. Personal problem solvers: By far the most common kind of criminal, these individuals often cause serious loss in their pursuit of a solution to their own personal problems.

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They may turn to crime after conventional problem-solving methods fail, or they may see crime as a quick and easy way to solve their problems. “They generally believe that the victim of the crime is rich enough to afford the loss and would not miss what was taken or used. Disgruntled employees, angry about being fired or not receiving a raise they felt they deserved, have also been known to “even the score” with their company by disrupting their computer networks or program functionality fall into this category”(7).

Career criminals: These individuals earn part or all of their income from crime, although they do not necessarily engage in crime as a full-time occupation. Some have a job, earn a little and steal a little, then move on to another job to repeat the process.In some cases they conspire with others or work within organized gangs such as the Mafia. The greatest organized crime threat comes from groups in Russia, Italy, and Asia. “The FBI reported in 1995 that there were more than 30 Russian gangs operating in the United States.

According to the FBI, many of these unsavory alliances use advanced information technology and encrypted communications to elude capture.”(7). Extreme advocates: Better known as “computer terrorists,” these individuals and groups have strong social, political, or religious views and are intent on changing conditions by engaging in crime.Their crimes usually involve violence against people or property and are calculated to achieve a high level of publicity to bring attention to the terrorists’ causes.

“To date, terrorists have rarely engaged in cyber crime, although the Red Brigades in Europe came close by destroying more than 60 computer centers during the 1980s. Terrorist groups, especially the highly organized ones sponsored by rogue countries such as Libya and Iran, are likely to turn their attention to our fragile information, utility, and transportation infrastructures when their current methods lose their impact.”(7). Such groups could plan an attack on a worldwide basis, using cryptography to communicate, and then carry out their acts through the Internet. Malcontents, addicts, and irrational and incompetent people: “These individuals extend from the mentally ill to those addicted to drugs, alcohol, competition, or attention from others, to the criminally negligent.In general, they are the most difficult to describe and the most difficult to protect against. We have no way of determining who is sufficiently irrational to trigger an attack against an organization or individual because of a perceived affront. We also have no way of predicting negligence.

Criminal negligence is common in the abuse and misuse of computers. Programmers in New Zealand, for example, were convicted of criminal negligence when they failed in their duty to inform the captain of an airliner that they had reprogrammed his navigation system. He flew the plane into a mountain in Antarctica that, according to his navigation computer, was not supposed to be there, killing 80 tourists.”(7). Access to computer systems can be gained in many different ways.The simplest of these is direct access. Being the programmer, developer or specialist working with the system puts you in control of how the computer or network functions. Access can also be gained through a method called cracking.

Cracking is a method of finding and using somebody else’s username and password. In order to crack a password, “you can make a good guess, try out a number of combinations, look for the combination (password) written someplace nearby or ..one might try to find an alternate way into the system, a ‘back door'”(2). Scanning is another way to “crack” information. Scanning is “[using] a computer program that automatically generates a sequence of phone numbers, credit card numbers, passwords or the like to try against a system entry test”(2).

There are ways around scanning, such as putting a limit of attempts one gets to enter the correct password in the system entry test would stop the program from trying over and over again. An additional way one might gain access in through piggybacking. Piggybacking is “getting into a secured area by slipping in right behind someone who is cleared for access ..[Piggybacking] can happen if the person using a terminal ahead of you did not log off properly, and her account is thus still active; you can go in”(2), basically it is using another person’s access to as it were your own.

The piggybacker then has access to all the past user’s files and can be destructive if they choose and wipe out the account. There are many different types of computer crimes, but there are basically two main categories, crimes against computers and crimes using computers. “Crimes against computers are usually based on the destruction of hardware and software or the theft of computer technology.”(2). Many people get mad at computers for many reasons.Computers are based on human input, thus computers make mistakes.

People sometimes take the anger that builds up, after a computer has made a number of mistakes, out on the actual hardware such as: a computer monitor, tower, keyboard, or mouse. Demolished computers have been dropped, punched, kicked, and some even shot by a gun. Computer systems have also been mutilated and destroyed to destroy data and records. This is not the best method o …