Computer Crime Computer crime is a very broad term. It could mean anything from a total invasion by a hacker into the federal government or just the simple fact of one person letting another borrow a copy of his favorite flying game. Computers are defined in the dictionary as a machine that computes (WBD vol. 23). But to most people it is a machine that’s helps us do a task easier. As we move into the 21th century though one thing is for sure, the computer will help crime become more prevalent.
Hackers are probably one of the more common threats out there. These are the people who use modems and telephone lines to enter your computer. A teenager sits across the table yelling, “I want this and this and this.”. This is not a kid talking to his parents; it is a hacker talking to the business he just hacked into. Whenever you think about it, the idea of a teenager being able to make a big software firm grovel like that is pretty amazing. This is a site often seen though.
When a company is hacked into it often hires its predators as protectors (Glass 11). If companies do not come forward to claim that they have been infiltrated how are these hackers supposed to be prosecuted. This is a serious issue being faced today by the federal government. In an article by Stephen Glass he quotes a radio advertisement by the Nevada law-enforcement officials. They were so desperate the advertisement ran “Would you hire a shoplifter to watch the cash register? Please don’t deal with hackers.” The state took the airwaves after a boy had broken into a department stores computer system and made it credit $500 a day to his Visa card.
The boy had racked up $32,000 before being caught. But, the store did not prosecute. Instead they let the boy keep his money, all in exchange for showing them how to improve their security (Glass 11). Also cases have been reported of government agencies being hacked into. If the government is worried about a hackers’ invasion with their security system what is the American people to do.
Hackers and computer criminals also use computer viruses to either do some odd job or just reek havoc. “Virus” is the one computer-security buzzword that has made its way into the mainstream. Most people do not know exactly what one is, but that it’s bad. These viruses are simply a piece of software written with one key distinction: it has the desire to create clones of itself. There are many types of viruses.
The Trojan Horse viruses are viruses that make you think they re doing one thing while they actually do something totally different. Time Bomb viruses go off when a certain conditions of a date is met. Logic Bomb viruses start their effects when the user types in a certain word or words (Schwartau 95-110). Viruses are something that we should all worry about. There are certain programs out there that can detect and eliminate viruses. Another form of crime happening on the Internet is the posting of obscene and explicit pictures.
This issue was first really brought to the publics’ attention in a case involving a couple from Milpitas, California, who were indicted and convicted in Memphis, Tennessee. Robert and Carleen Thomas, a couple married for 21 years with two sons, ran the Amateur Action Bulletin Board Service. They distributed GIF images that were explicit and, in some cases, repellent, violent, and grotesque. The reason these two are in jail is because obscenity laws can come from the local community standards. What is not illegal in California could be illegal in Tennessee for example.
This rule promulgated by the Supreme Court in 1973 made minimal sense then. Though in the Thomas case, it permits Memphis, Tennessee, to establish itself as the arbiter of all cyberspace (Mangan, Wallace 1-40). The most common form of computer crime that everyday people commit is computer piracy. In the Illustrated Computer Dictionary for Dummies piracy is defined as “Copying software without the permission of the writer or publisher, and, if you’re really bad, distributing it as well” (274). An interview I did reported that out of 21 people I interviewed 20 of them admitted to copying a program they did not buy or “borrowing” a program (Penland).
Most of them did not view it as being wrong. They thought that if they bought it they could do what they wanted with it. Many companies have tried to stop this act of crime by copy protection and having to use a registration code (274). With million of Americans buying software each year there is no way to stop even one percent from giving away a copy of their favorite game. That computer crime is on the rise is perhaps a natural result of introducing the computer into American society. Some argue that computer crime is nothing more than traditional crime committed with new, high-tech devices.
Others contend that computer crime cannot be analogized to traditional crime. They state that it requires both new law enforcement techniques and new laws to address abuses of emerging technologies (USDOJ). “The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section; United States Department of Justice.” 1996.