The Problem of Computer Crime

The Problem of Computer Crime

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There are many different types of computer crime. I will start off with the most infamous and feared one, hacking. Hacking is what most people first think of when they think of computer crime. It is easy to find someone who knows someone affected by hacking, or even to find someone who, himself, has been a victim of hacking.
Originally, hacking was not such a feared word. It used to be used to describe computer geniuses, who were looking to reach the most complex concepts that the computer world had to offer. However, a few black sheep, and the word is now used in a negative manner. Hacking is now commonly defined as someone breaking into or “cracking” into a computer system and causing much harm to that system. It also relates to those who explore code and attempt to do harm or steal that code. While the true definition of a hacker is someone who loves to explore, can theorize and program easy and well, and just is a plain expert, the world has been turned off to this term because of the malicious acts of few. (

Another type of computer crime is called, the “Trojan Horses”. This term refers to someone pretending to do a seemingly useful and desirable task, while in actuality they are performing a deceiving and deceptive act. An example of this is someone writing a seemingly harmless program, while the program really contains harmful code and data. There have even been programs that were “Trojan Horses”. These programs were supposed to search and find viruses, but the program turned out to be very harmful to those who used it. (

Viruses are commonly called “Trojan Horses”, as they usually disguise their true harm. Viruses are defined as a piece of programming code that can have devastating effects to one’s computer. Viruses are so dangerous because they can automatically be sent to another computer without one actually sending the program. Viruses most commonly come in an e-mail or attachment, a downloadable file, or on a CD-ROM or diskette. Most of the time, the source of the virus does not even know the virus is contained in the file or program. Some viruses must lie in wait until the computer does something to trigger the code into action.

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Other viruses immediately begin to execute the harmful code and wreak havoc on one’s computer. Viruses have been known to erase data, wipe out a computer’s entire memory and cause a disk to have to be reformatted. Viruses are generally grouped into three different categories, file infectors, system or boot record infectors, and macro viruses. (

File infectors include program files and when the program is opened the virus is opened up into the computer. File infector viruses also include those sent in an e-mail as an attachment or in a program. When the e-mail is opened or downloaded, the virus then is opened to that computer. (

System or boot record infectors are viruses that infect code that is executed from a certain part of a disk. They attach to the DOS boot sector on diskettes or the Master Boot Record on hard disks. Common examples of this are to receive a disk, from an either innocent or guilty source, that contains a boot disk virus. The disk can than be loaded automatically by the computer if left in when turned on. This can cause you to lose access to some things on your computer for several days. (

Macro viruses are common but are generally harmless to one’s computer. An example is one getting into Microsoft Word and just adding in words or phrases that are unwanted. (

The last type of well known computer crime that I will talk about is called a “worm”. A worm is a virus that can self replicate itself. It does not mess with any files, but it does reside in the active memory and continue to duplicate itself. Worms can use parts of the operating system that are usually invisible to the normal computer user. These worms can continually duplicate themselves until they slow or halt other tasks of a computer. This is usually the time when a worm is noticed. Worms can also be very harmful in networks. A worm can travel independently to a network and clog it up to the point of destruction. It then just gets up and moves to another network that becomes another victim of its destruction. (

Why Computer Crime is a Problem:

The criminals involved in the area of computer crime are not like the profile of any other crime in the United States. Surprisingly, computer criminals tend to have no prior record of crime. Computer criminals also tend to be responsible, honest people in a position of trust. In fact, many of the businesses that fall victim to a computer crime, find out that it was one of their employees that was the perpetrator of the act. Most computer criminals are male, but the number of women as accomplices and actual perpetrators is growing in number. They range in ages from fourteen to thirty. These criminals are usually very bright and know a lot about computers and are willing to challenge themselves in the technological world. Generally, these computer criminals almost represent “normal” people. They do not seem the type that would want to harm or hurt something. There is no profile of a computer criminal because the profile stretches way too far. (

Computer crime is becoming a big problem in our world today. Many of these crimes affect our jobs, our money, our community and our lives. Many people are being affected by fraud over the internet. There is a chance they can get their credit card number stolen or even their social security number, which could lead to the loss of their identity. It is not only just viruses messing up how we use the internet. People are stealing money, software, benefits, and much more. Many governmental agencies, such as Police Departments and Fire Departments, have important databases that are crucial for protection.

Computer Crime as a Major Problem to Businesses:

One of the major victims of the increasing wave of computer crime is businesses. Computer crime can have devastating effects on businesses. Businesses are using information technology for all aspects of business. They use it for many of their day to day activities. This increase in the use of information technology has raised the risk of having complete devastation due to a computer crime. These computer crimes can inhibit a business from performing its day to day activities. Thus, causing the business it infects to lost a substantial amount of money in a short time.

With computer crime becoming an increasing problem in society, it is important to report computer attacks. It is said that many businesses go without reporting a virus or worm in their system. They are either too embarrassed to think that someone actually got through their system or they just do not feel like going through the hassle. Nevertheless, these criminals are able to stay free. What many of these businesses do not realize is that they are leaving this person to commit perhaps a more devastating crime once again. They also don’t realize that the perpetrator may have left a back door to get back into the system that he has already once tampered with. In a way, they are leaving their selves open to future attacks. This is why it is so important to report even the smallest incident to the authorities. Although, sometimes it is impossible to detect these computer crimes and they may go unnoticed and unreported.

Businesses that are not prepared or do not have the security to protect against these computer crimes might find their selves out of business. From the year 2000 to 2001, the estimated loss of businesses due to computer crimes increased by 113 million dollars. It averages to around 2 million dollars per business that was affected by a computer crime. This is no small number. Two million dollars can be devastating to a business. Not only was this, but only around ten percent of the actual businesses affected by computer crime were surveyed due to lack of reporting these crimes.
Ecommerce businesses are feeling much of this blow. We have all heard of what happens when someone breaks into an ecommerce business database or information system. Very important information, such as credit card numbers and social security numbers, can be stolen or lost. Many businesses were forced to close down just because so much important information was stolen. These businesses also work very close with each other. This leaves room for multiple businesses to easily be affected by one virus or worm. (

Even after all this evidence, it still seems that businesses have a misconception on how big this problem actually is. Businesses have yet to address security problems within their own systems. Many flaws and openings exist, yet businesses are doing little or nothing to protect them selves from computer crime.

Some say that businesses have a misconception on who is doing the security breaching. Many have stereotyped hackers into mislead young teens, who do not have the intelligence or the resources to actually break into a sophisticated system. Yet, many of these perpetrators of computer crime seem to be very intelligent and have the patience to wait it out. Their hacking methods seem organized and planned out. This does not seem like the work of children. This is stuff done by professionals.

Businesses must learn to take these attacks seriously. If they choose to keep their systems out of date and keep their security out of date, the cost and volume of these attacks will continue to increase. Businesses will have to wait until something devastating happens to realize that this is a big problem and they need to do something about it before they find them selves out of business.

Suggested Solutions to Problems of Computer Crime:
First off, businesses need to accept the fact that computer crime is a problem. Businesses need to realize that this problem is not just going to go away. They are the ones that need to help them selves. Businesses can do this by getting ahead of computer crime and strike against it before they get struck.

Businesses need to establish a system of security. Everything in their system, internally and externally, needs to be checked and secured. Businesses need to set up a secure system that is as close to fail proof as possible. If businesses want to stay afloat and keep a competitive advantage, they must first make sure they do not have a surprise attack that puts them on the street.

These information systems need to be tested during development. A Penn State researcher has discovered that testing during the development of information systems can save business’ lots of money and hassles later. This can help managers keep an eye on security and also help them to fix the mistakes that just may cost them a lot of grief or even their business, later. (

Another thing businesses must try to do is to report any known attack immediately. Even though they may lose a little face, it is better than losing your entire business. Many risks remain when these crimes go unreported. It is very important that we catch these people the first time. That way we can help prevent a future case that may even come back to the same business it hit once before. Again, businesses must get ahead of these computer criminals.


As computer crime continues to become a bigger and more costly issue today, greater measures need to be taken to prevent them. These crimes are looked at as just white collar crimes, yet they cost people and businesses the most money out of any other crime. The punishment should fit the crime. This needs to be recognized as a problem and any business that wants to succeed should take this seriously.

Businesses must take the measures needed to prevent computer crime. All these types of computer crimes are more common than we think. Businesses that use information technology and online communication as an everyday part of their business need to pay close attention to this issue. It is important to stop these criminals and keep business’ and people's money with the people that actually earned it.


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