Computer Crime Essay

1185 words - 5 pages

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In today's society our most valuable commodity is not grain, steel or even technology; it is information. Because of computer networks, just about everyone can now access an astounding range of information. The Internet is international, even though 80 percent of the Internet use occurs in the United States, and a staggering amount of information on every subject imaginable is available for free. Because so many people now have access, computer crimes have become more frequent. Everyone with a computer and a modem can commit a computer crime if so inclined. Anyone, conceivably, could become a "white collar" computer criminal. When the term "white collar" crime came into ...view middle of the document...

Some crimes such as embezzlement, wire fraud, and forgery, are already covered under existing law. Others, such as cyber vandalism, cyber terrorism, and cyber espionage, are relatively new. For these newer crimes, the letter of the existing law sometimes does not allow prosecution of what clearly is criminal behavior. Employees and ex-employees of the victimized company commit most "white collar crimes". Likewise about 75 to 80 percent of prosecuted computer crimes are committed by current or former employees. There are many different kinds of computer crimes ranging from identity theft to sexual harassment to otherwise ordinary "white collar" crimes that happen to involve a computer. The most common form is online theft and fraud. Phreaks, crackers, and sometimes hackers illegally access and use voice mail, e-mail, and network access accounts-which constitute toll fraud or wire fraud. Long distance access codes are in great demand by the hackers, crackers, phone phreaks and street criminal. Some cyber-criminals obtain the codes by "shoulder surfing" or looking over the shoulder of unwary people in phone booths. One reason that this is a common is a common form of crime among hackers and phone phreaks is because they tend to run up enormous phone bills pursuing their hobbies for 10 – 12 hours a day. Others obtain the codes from "pirate" electronic bulletin boards, where they are posted in exchange for free software, credit card numbers or other information. Software piracy is another growing and seemingly insurmountable problem. It is illegal under American Copyright Laws, but most software piracy actually takes place overseas. Federal copyright laws are often insufficient even to prosecute United States citizens, as illustrated by the now famous case of David La Macchia. La Macchia, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, distributed free software through a bulletin board service on a M.I.T computer. After a FBI probe La Macchia was indited on 1994 for conspiracy to committee fraud. The software he offered reportedly had a total value of over one million dollars, but La Macchia argued that he had not distributed the software for financial gain and therefore could not have violated the federal copyright laws. The case was dismissed. One of the most freighting computer crimes is identity theft. This kind of fraud is much easier than it was once, because a wealth of personnel information is available online for free, and even more personal information is available for a small fee. Now that drivers license numbers are also stored on computers, which a re usually part of a larger network, a...

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