Computer Crime

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Computer Crime Problems with Format Billions of dollars in losses have already been discovered. Billions more have gone undetected. Trillions will be stolen, most without detection, by the emerging master criminal of the twenty-first century--the computer crime offender. Worst of all, anyone who is computer literate can become a computer criminal. He or she is everyman, everywoman, or even everychild. The crime itself will often be virtual in nature--sometimes recorded, more often not--occurring only on the Internet, with the only record being electronic impulses. Before discussing Internet crimes, we can expect to see in the years ahead, let's look at the good news: The most-dreaded types of offenses--crimes such as murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, and vehicle theft--will be brought under control in the years ahead by a combination of technology and proactive community policing. Creation of the cashless society, for example, will eliminate most of the rewards for robbers and muggers, while computer-controlled smart houses and cars will thwart burglars and auto thieves. Implanted bodily function monitors and chemical drips (such as "sober-up" drugs and synthesized hormones) will keep most of the sexually and physically violent offenders under control. But computer criminals--ranging in age from preteen to senior citizen--will have ample opportunities to violate citizens' rights for fun and profit, and stopping them will require much more effort. Currently, we have only primitive knowledge about these lawbreakers: Typically, they are seen only as nuisances or even admired as innovators or computer whizzes. But increasingly, the "hacker" is being replaced by the menacing "cracker"--an individual or member of a group intent on using the Internet for illegal profit or terrorism. Access to the Internet has begun to expand geometrically, and technology is making the Internet even more friendly and affordable for millions of users. But foolproof protective systems can probably never be developed, although some high-tech entrepreneurs are certainly trying. Even if a totally secure system could ever be developed, it would likely disrupt the free flow of information--an unacceptable intrusion to most users. In fact, it is the ease of access that is driving this rapidly expanding field of crime. What are the major computer crimes being committed, how, and by whom? More importantly, where is computer crime headed in the twenty-first century? Let's look at five crime categories: communications, government, business, stalking, and virtual crimes. COMMUNICATIONS CRIMES Already, cellular theft and phone fraud have become major crimes.

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