Cybercrime & Computer Crime Research Center

The internet has increasingly become a convenient avenue for commitments of crimes in the ever sophisticated information age. This is due to the defining characteristics of the online world where one can interact without physical contact. A computer consultant in Utah was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing 2 million dollars from a credit company where he worked (Computer Crime Research Center).

In another incident, Jeffrey Lee Parson who pleaded guilty to charges of unleashing part of a worm that caused chaos in the internet in 2003 got off with 18 to 37 months in jail (Computer Crime Research Center) In most cases of cybercrime, the punishment does not fit the crime. The damages by computer users in the hands of cybercrime offenders are very real and so the penalties should also be as real. This paper will attempt to discuss and draw more light on this issue. This paper will attempt to discuss and draw more light on the issue of cybercrimes and some of the proposed solutions that have been suggested to counter the cyberterrorism.

Problem Definition According to the Computer Crime Research Center, the penalty for illegally accessing a computer ranges from 6 months to 5 years. The penalty for illegal system access ranges from 5 to 10 years of imprisonment. Communication interception, offensive material dissemination and telecommunication piracy crimes carry punishment of 1 to 5 years. Individuals who hack computer and computer devices get an imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine (Computer Crime Research Center. An act of trying to gain access to a government protected system, results in a 10 year imprisonment and a heavy fine.

Over the years this penalties have been made more severe, but the question still remains on whether they are still too lenient (Computer Crime Research Center). Cybercrime is the criminal exploitation of the internet. According to research carried out by the National Computer Security Association (NCSA) in 1996 two out of three U. S. companies were affected greatly by viruses. 3-5 billion dollar losses were incurred in the United States annually in the late 1980s as a result of computer abuse. With advancement in technology, newer and more complicated crimes have emerged which usually go unprosecuted.

Cybercrime can be categorized into violent or potentially violent criminals, and nonviolent crimes (Shinder & Cross, 15). Types of violent or potentially violent crimes include: Cyber stalking, cyber terrorism, and child pornography. Cyber terrorism refers to deliberate politically motivated violence committed against innocent people by individuals, group(s) of people through computer networks. It involves use of the internet to convey information to be used in violent activities as well as recruiting members to terrorist groups through Web sites.

In extreme cases, it could include interrupting computer systems used in air traffic control to cause planes to crash or collide; sabotaging the computer system controlling water treatment so as to cause contamination of water supplies. It also includes hacking into hospital database and deleting or changing information that could result in incorrect or dangerous treatment of patients (Shinder & Cross, 15). Cyber stalking is a form of electronic harassment which involves implied physical threats which create fear in the victim. It mostly targets people in a certain race, gender, religion or social status.

Paparazzi use the internet to stalk celebrities and get unauthorized access to confidential information on them in order to blackmail them. People from a particular race are harassed by distribution of hate e-mails through the internet; this often occurs in chat rooms and news groups. Child pornography becomes a cyber crime when computers and networks are used to create, distribute and access pornographic materials that use minor children. Child pornography is considered a violent crime because sexual abuse is practiced in order to produce pornographic materials.

Any related activity to enhance child pornography is considered to be a crime. Pedophiles use the internet to distribute and access pornographic material involving children through the internet (Shinder & Cross, 15). Most cyber crimes are nonviolent offenses. The perceived anonymity of virtual experiences is one of the elements that make cyberspace an attractive “venue” to commit crimes. Nonviolent cyber crimes include: cyber trespass, cyber theft, cyber fraud, destructive cyber crimes and other cyber crimes.

Cyber trespass refers to accessing of a computer’s or networks resources without authorization just for the fun of it. The individual may not damage or misuse the data; nonetheless, cyber trespass is a crime in most jurisdictions. Most of these cases are dismissed by law enforcers because no damage is done (Shinder & Cross, 18). Copyright infringement is another method of nonviolent cyber crime. This is unauthorized use of works covered by copyright law, in such a way that it violates the owner’s exclusive rights.

These rights include; the right to reproduce the work. For electronic media copyright infringement is also referred to as piracy. Piracy is mainly done for music and film works, where cyber criminals hack into entertainment websites and download original works. They then, create copies which they sell as their own (Shinder & Cross, 19). Cyber theft is the use of a computer and network to steal money, information or other valuables. It is one of the most popular cyber crimes; this is because stealing from a distance reduces the risk of getting caught.

Cyber theft includes embezzlement; an example is where an employee may use his/her legitimate access to a company’s computerized payroll system to change the data so as to move funds out of a company bank into his own account. A person may also gain unlawful access to an organization’s information and misappropriate funds. Another example of cyber theft is industrial espionage, where a person from outside the company uses the network to steal trade secrets and marketing strategies for competitors (Shinder & Cross, 19).

Plagiarism is another case cyber theft. Plagiarism is stealing of someone’s original writing and then passing it off as your own. Cyber fraud on the other hand is the variation of network data so as to obtain benefits. An example is when one hacks into the police database so as to remove arrest records. Destructive cyber crimes include: electronically vandalizing web pages, hacking into a system and deleting data, introducing worms, viruses or other malicious codes into a computer system or network (Shinder & Cross, 21).

Viruses, worms and malicious codes cause damages worth millions of dollars (Shinder & Cross, 23). Virus writers and hackers are highly active and continuously creating and modifying new viruses, making it difficult for antivirus software to detect them. Other nonviolent cyber crimes include: soliciting prostitution over the internet, gambling through the internet, internet drug sales and other contraband goods that are banned in some countries (Shinder & Cross, 24). An important question arises on how these crimes can be prevented.

Approaches to Counter Cybercriminals Use of antivirus and anti spyware software is one of the solutions which are currently in use. The antivirus software contains a program that attempt to identify and eliminate viruses, worms and other malicious codes. Backdoor programs and Trojans are restricted by the anti spy wares. Firewalls are also other effective ways of preventing unauthorized access to a computer network. Network firewalls may be software programs, hardware devices or a combination of both.

The firewall protects internal computer networks from outside access by malicious intruders (Shinder & Cross, 532). Cryptography is another very effective method of dealing with cyber crime. Cryptography is the science of encrypting and decrypting information. This is where, when one is sending information through the internet, software decrypts the information and encodes it. The information is sent in coded form which can only be decoded by the recipient who has the decoding software. This is a very effective method that crackers find hard to hack (Shinder & Cross, 512).

Awareness can also be raised on the issue of cyber crime. Youths are increasingly getting drawn into cyber crime because most of them are not aware of its legal consequences. This can be done through informative advertisements on the internet which will attempt to inform them on the dangers of cyber crime. People should also be encouraged to report cyber criminals to authorities through links on the web, so as to use the internet as a weapon against cyber crime perpetrators (Shinder & Cross, 551).

Cyber ethics and laws are being formulated to combat cyber crime. It is the responsibility of service providers to provide high level of security to their clients so as to keep them safe from malicious programs. Laws have been passed over the years which have attempted to curb the problem of cyber crime. One of the most effective laws which were passed in the USA is the USA Patriot Act which increases penalties and allows the prosecution of individuals who intend to cause damage. It was pushed through the U.

S Senate after the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. This law gives authority over monitoring personal communications and private information (Shinder & Cross, 10). In August 2007 President Bush, signed into law Patriot II Act. This act gives authority to the government to: conduct domestic wiretaps without a court order for 15 days after an attack on the country or congressional authorization, access citizen credit reports with a subpoena and criminalize use of encryption software that was used in planning of a felony.

This act was put in place to address the shortcomings of the law that don’t deal with modern technology (Shinder & Cross, 10). In USA it is a federal crime to advertise or knowingly receive child pornography. The child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) expanded the definition of child pornography to any visual depiction of sexually explicit behavior in which the production involved the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. This has made it illegal to distribute and access child pornography on the internet (Shinder & Cross, 16).

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has also developed a cyber program to deal with cyber threats. Over the years, the FBI has developed a Cyber Division whose main goal is to address cyber crime. It has employed the use of highly specialiazed personnel made up of agents and analyst who are able to identify cyber crimes. They have also employed the use of state-of-the-art-technology and resources to deal with this menace. Partnerships have also been developed with the Department of Defense and Homeland Security which enable them to share information on cyber crime.

The Cyber Crime Treaty: Preferred Approach It has become clear that a well-developed network of international cooperation is required to fight cyber crime, due to its ever changing nature. I think an international Cyber crime treaty is the best solution. Many countries have united their anti- cybercrime efforts through a proposed treaty known as the “Convention on Cyber crime”. Australia, Canada, Japan, USA and 43 member nations in the Council of Europe were involved in the drafting process.

The Cyber crime Treaty is an internationally accepted law, which has made it easier to get help and evidence from other countries to prosecute foreign nationals within the country (Shinder & Cross, 548). The treaty has three features, whose target is to set basic cyber law standards for all nations. First, it requires all nations to outlaw unauthorized usage of protected computer; the usage of a computer to commit fraud, computer infringement (piracy), distribution of child pornography or terrorism.

Secondly, it is a requirement to standardize procedures used to capture and retrieve information online. There is also need to capture the origin and time of all traffic on all networks. Thirdly, national governments are required to cooperate and share electronic evidence across boarders. This is the most effective means by which cyber criminals can be deterred as they won’t find refuge in any country (Shinder & Cross, 548). Conclusion Even though cyber crime is getting the recognition it deserves, it is not going to be curbed easily.

It is actually more likely that perpetrators will continue upgrading and developing so as to stay ahead of the long arms of the law. It therefore becomes very important for governments and organizations to keep consulting and coming up with more advanced and updated methods of detecting and dealing with cyber crime, in order to curb this ever growing menace. Works Cited: Computer Crime Research Center. Legislation. Web: August 17, 2010 from, http://www. crime- research. org/legislation/ Shinder Debra L. & Cross Michael. Scene of the cybercrime. Burlington, MA: Syngress Publishing, Inc, 2008

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