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Computer crime

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Computer crime, or Cybercrime, refers to any crime that involves a computer and a network.[1]
The computer may have been used in the commission of a crime, or it may be the target.
Netcrime refers, more precisely, to criminal exploitation of the Internet.[3] Issues surrounding
this type of crime have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding cracking, copyright
infringement, child pornography, and child grooming. There are also problems of privacy when
confidential information is lost or intercepted, lawfully or otherwise.
On the global level, both governments and non-state actors continue to grow in importance, with
the ability to engage in such activities as espionage, financial theft, and other cross-border crimes
sometimes referred to as cyber warfare. The international legal system is attempting to hold
actors accountable for their actions, with the International Criminal Court among the few
addressing this threat.[4]

• 1 Topology
○ 1.1 Spam
○ 1.2 Fraud
○ 1.3 Obscene or offensive content
○ 1.4 Harassment
○ 1.5 Drug trafficking
○ 1.6 Cyber terrorism
○ 1.7 Cyber warfare
• 2 Documented cases
• 3 See also
• 4 References
• 5 Further reading
• 6 External links
○ 6.1 Government resources

[edit] Topology
Computer crime encompasses a broad range of potentially illegal activities. Generally, however,
it may be divided into one of two types of categories: (1) crimes that target computer networks or
devices directly; (2) crimes facilitated by computer networks or devices, the primary target of
which is independent of the computer network or device.[citation needed]
Examples of crimes that primarily target computer networks or devices would include:
• Computer viruses
• Denial-of-service attacks
• Malware (malicious code)
Examples of crimes that merely use computer networks or devices would include:
• Cyberstalking
• Fraud and identity theft
• Information warfare
• Phishing scams
A computer can be a source of evidence. Even though the computer is not directly used for
criminal purposes, it is an excellent device for record keeping, particularly given the power to
encrypt the data. If this evidence can be obtained and decrypted, it can be of great value to
criminal investigators.
[edit] Spam
Spam, or the unsolicited sending of bulk email for commercial purposes, is unlawful to varying
degrees. As applied to email, specific anti-spam laws are relatively new, but however, limits on
unsolicited electronic communications have existed in few forms for some time.[5]
[edit] Fraud
Main article: Computer fraud
Computer fraud is any dishonest misrepresentation of fact intended to let another to do or refrain
from doing something which causes loss.[citation needed] In this context, the fraud will result in
obtaining a benefit by:
• Altering computer input in an unauthorized way. This requires little technical expertise
and is not an uncommon form of theft by employees altering the data before entry or
entering false data, or by entering unauthorized instructions or using unauthorized
• Altering, destroying, suppressing, or stealing output, usually to conceal unauthorized
transactions: this is difficult to detect;
• Altering or deleting stored data;
• Altering or misusing existing system tools or software packages, or altering or writing
code for fraudulent purposes.
Other forms of fraud may be facilitated using computer systems, including bank fraud, identity
theft, extortion, and theft of classified information.
A variety of Internet scams target consumers direct.
[edit] Obscene or offensive content
The content of websites and other electronic communications may be distasteful, obscene or
offensive for a variety of reasons. In some instances these communications may be illegal.
Over 25 jurisdictions place limits on certain speech and ban racist, blasphemous, politically
subversive, libelous or slanderous, seditious, or inflammatory material that tends to incite hate
The extent to which these communications are unlawful varies greatly between countries, and
even within nations. It is a sensitive area in which the courts can become involved in arbitrating
between groups with strong beliefs.
One area of Internet pornography that has been the target of the strongest efforts at curtailment is
child pornography.
[edit] Harassment
Whereas content may be offensive in a non-specific way, harassment directs obscenities and
derogatory comments at specific individuals focusing for example on gender, race, religion,
nationality, sexual orientation. This often occurs in chat rooms, through newsgroups, and by
sending hate e-mail to interested parties (see cyber bullying, cyber stalking, harassment by
computer, hate crime, Online predator, and stalking). Any comment that may be found
derogatory or offensive is considered harassment.
[edit] Drug trafficking
Drug traffickers are increasingly taking advantage of the Internet to sell their illegal substances
through encrypted e-mail and other Internet Technology.[citation needed] Some drug traffickers arrange
deals at internet cafes, use courier Web sites to track illegal packages of pills, and swap recipes
for amphetamines in restricted-access chat rooms.
The rise in Internet drug trades could also be attributed to the lack of face-to-face
communication. These virtual exchanges allow more intimidated individuals to more
comfortably purchase illegal drugs. The sketchy effects that are often associated with drug trades
are severely minimized and the filtering process that comes with physical interaction fades away.
[edit] Cyber terrorism
Government officials and Information Technology security specialists have documented a
significant increase in Internet problems and server scans since early 2001. But there is a
growing concern among federal officials[who?] that such intrusions are part of an organized effort
by cyberterrorists, foreign intelligence services, or other groups to map potential security holes in
critical systems. A cyberterrorist is someone who intimidates or coerces a government or
organization to advance his or her political or social objectives by launching computer-based
attack against computers, network, and the information stored on them.
Cyber terrorism in general, can be defined as an act of terrorism committed through the use of
cyberspace or computer resources (Parker 1983). As such, a simple propaganda in the Internet,
that there will be bomb attacks during the holidays can be considered cyberterrorism. As well
there are also hacking activities directed towards individuals, families, organized by groups
within networks, tending to cause fear among people, demonstrate power, collecting information
relevant for ruining peoples' lives, robberies, blackmailing etc.
Cyberextortion is a form of cyberterrorism in which a website, e-mail server, or computer system
is subjected to repeated denial of service or other attacks by malicious hackers, who demand
money in return for promising to stop the attacks. According to the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, cyberextortionists are increasingly attacking corporate websites and networks,
crippling their ability to operate and demanding payments to restore their service. More than 20
cases are reported each month to the FBI and many go unreported in order to keep the victim's
name out of the domain. Perpetrators typically use a distributed denial-of-service attack.[6]
[edit] Cyber warfare
Main article: Cyber warfare
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) notes that cyberspace has emerged as a national-level
concern through several recent events of geo-strategic significance. Among those are included
the attack on Estonia's infrastructure in 2007, allegedly by Russian hackers. "In August 2008,
Russia again allegedly conducted cyber attacks, this time in a coordinated and synchronized
kinetic and non-kinetic campaign against the country of Georgia. Fearing that such attacks may
become the norm in future warfare among nation-states, the concept of cyberspace operations
impacts and will be adapted by warfighting military commanders in the future.[7]
[edit] Documented cases
One of the highest profiled banking computer crime occurred during a course of three years
beginning in 1970. The chief teller at the Park Avenue branch of New York's Union Dime
Savings Bank embezzled over $1.5 million from hundreds of accounts.[8]
A hacking group called the MOD (Masters of Deception, allegedly stole passwords and technical
data from Pacific Bell, Nynex, and other telephone companies as well as several big credit
agencies and two major universities. The damage caused was extensive, one company,
Southwestern Bell suffered losses of $370,000 alone.[8]
In 1983, a nineteen year old UCLA student used his PC to break into a Defense Department
international communications system.[8]
Between 1995 and 1998 the Newscorp satellite pay to view encrypted SKY-TV service was
hacked several times during an on-going technological arms race between a pan-European
hacking group and Newscorp. The original motivation of the hackers was to watch Star Trek re-
runs in Germany; which was something which Newscorp did not have the copyright to allow.[9]
On 26 March 1999, the Melissa worm infected a document on a victim's computer, then
automatically sent that document and copy of the virus via e-mail to other people.
In February 2000 a individual going by the alias of MafiaBoy began a series denial-of-service
attacks against high profile websites, including Yahoo!, Amazon.com, Dell, Inc., E*TRADE,
eBay, and CNN. About fifty computers at Stanford University, and also computers at the
University of California at Santa Barbara, were amongst the zombie computers sending pings in
DDoS attacks. On 3 August 2000, Canadian federal prosecutors charged MafiaBoy with 54
counts of illegal access to computers, plus a total of ten counts of mischief to data for his attacks.
The Russian Business Network (RBN) was registered as an internet site in 2006. Initially, much
of its activity was legitimate. But apparently the founders soon discovered that it was more
profitable to host illegitimate activities and started hiring its services to criminals. The RBN has
been described by VeriSign as "the baddest of the bad".[10] It offers web hosting services and
internet access to all kinds of criminal and objectionable activities, with an individual activities
earning up to $150 million in one year. It specialized in and in some cases monopolized personal
identity theft for resale. It is the originator of MPack and an alleged operator of the Storm botnet.
On 2 March 2010, Spanish investigators busted 3 in infection of over 13 million computers
around the world. The "botnet" of infected computers included PCs inside more than half of the
Fortune 1000 companies and more than 40 major banks, according to investigators.
[edit] See also
• Computer trespass
• Cyber bullying
• Cyber defamation law
• Cyber terrorism
• Economic and Industrial Espionage
• Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
• High Technology Crime Investigation Association
• Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
• Internet homicide
• Internet stalking
• Internet suicide
• Internet War
• Legal aspects of computing
• List of convicted computer criminals
• Metasploit Project
• Online predator
• Organized crime
• Penetration test
• Personal jurisdiction over international defendants in the United States
• Police National E-Crime Unit
• United States Secret Service
• White collar crime
[edit] References
1. ^ Moore, R. (2005) "Cybercrime: Investigating High-Technology Computer Crime," Cleveland,
Mississippi: Anderson Publishing.
2. ^ Warren G. Kruse, Jay G. Heiser (2002). Computer forensics: incident response essentials. Addison-
Wesley. pp. 392. ISBN0201707195.
3. ^ Mann and Sutton 1998: >>Netcrime: More change in the Organization of Thieving. British Journal of
Criminology; 38: 201-229. Oxfordjournals.org
4. ^Ophardt, Jonathan A. "Cyber warfare and the crime of aggression: the need for individual accountability
on tomorrow's battlefield"Duke Law and Technology Review, February 23, 2010
5. ^See, e.g., Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003, CAN-
SPAM Act of 2003.
6. ^Lepofsky, J. (2006, June). Cyberextortion by denial-of-service attack. Risk, Retrieved from
7. ^"War is War? The utility of cyberspace operations in the contemporary operational environment" U.S.
Army War College, February 2010
8. ^ abcWeitzer, Ronald (2003). Current Controversies in Criminology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey:
Pearson Education Press. pp. 150.
9. ^ Mann, D. and Sutton, M. (1998) >>Netcrime: More Change in the Organization of Thieving. British
Journal of Criminology. 38:PP. 201-229 Oxfordjournals.org
10. ^"A walk on the dark side". The Economist. 2007-09-30. http://economist.com/displaystory.cfm?

[edit] Further reading

• Balkin, J., Grimmelmann, J., Katz, E., Kozlovski, N., Wagman, S. &Zarsky, T. (2006)
(eds) Cybercrime: Digital Cops in a Networked Environment, New York University
Press, New York.
• Brenner, S. (2007) Law in an Era of Smart Technology, Oxford: Oxford University Press
• Csonka P. (2000) Internet Crime; the Draft council of Europe convention on cyber-crime:
A response to the challenge of crime in the age of the internet? Computer Law & Security
Report Vol.16 no.5.
• Easttom C. (2010) Computer Crime Investigation and the Law
• Fafinski, S. (2009) Computer Misuse: Response, regulation and the lawCullompton:
• Grabosky, P. (2006) Electronic Crime, New Jersey: Prentice Hall
• McQuade, S. (2006) Understanding and Managing Cybercrime, Boston: Allyn& Bacon.
• McQuade, S. (ed) (2009) The Encyclopedia of Cybercrime, Westport, CT: Greenwood
• Parker D (1983) Fighting Computer Crime, U.S.: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
• Pattavina, A. (ed) Information Technology and the Criminal Justice System, Thousand
Oaks, CA: Sage.
• Paul Taylor. Hackers: Crime in the Digital Sublime (November 3, 1999 ed.). Routledge;
1 edition. pp. 200. ISBN0415180724.
• Robertson, J. (2010, March 2). Authorities bust 3 in infection of 13m computers.
Retrieved March 26, 2010, from Boston News: Boston.com
• Walden, I. (2007) Computer Crimes and Digital Investigations, Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
• Wall, D.S. (2007) Cybercrimes: The transformation of crime in the information age,
Cambridge: Polity.
• Williams, M. (2006) Virtually Criminal: Crime, Deviance and Regulation
Online,Routledge, London.
• Yar, M. (2006) Cybercrime and Society, London: Sage.
[edit] External links
This article's use of external linksmay not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines.
Please improve this article by removing excessive and inappropriate external links.
(August 2010)

• High Technology Crime Investigation Association

• A Guide to Computer Crime from legal.practitioner.com
• Computer Crime Research Center
• CyberCrime Asia Research Center - Information about computer crime, Internet fraud
and CyberTerrorism in Asia
• Cyber Crime Portal India - Cyber Crime Portal in India
• Cyber Crime Blog - Cyber Crime Blog
[edit] Government resources
• Cybercrime.gov from the United States Department of Justice
• National Institute of Justice Electronic Crime Program from the United States
Department of Justice
• FBI Cyber Investigations home page
• US Secret Service Computer Fraud
• Australian High Tech Crime Centre
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Categories: Computer crimes
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