COMPUTER CRIMESThe current hot crime tool is the personal computer. Experts predict that the use of computers in homes, small and large offices, businesses and government installations will steadily increase; therefore, it can be expected that computer-related crimes will remain a serious police investigative problem.
Electronic crime is affecting law enforcement at all levels, and no agency is escaping it. The increasing use of the Internet by businesses and consumers has created a fertile ground for those who use it for criminal purposes. Cyber crime is now a growth business that includes Internet auction fraud, stalkers, sending harassing e-mails, theft of trade secrets, software privacy, and virus infection and computer intrusion. Most criminals can defraud hundreds of people around the country using the same type of scam and take in tens of thousands of dollars without really worrying about any local department. All types of offences are increasing, and each presents unique challenges to investigators. Computer crimes are relatively easy to commit and difficult to detect. Most computer crimes are committed by insiders, and few are prosecuted.
Computer crimes may involve input data, output data, the program, the hardware or computer time. The FBI defines computer crime as that which involves the addition, deletion, change or theft of information. Computer crimes can be divided into the two general categories of the computer as tool and the computer as target. The computer-as tool category includes crimes in which the computer is used to commit a fraud, embezzlement by misusing passwords and access codes that protect information. One factor that makes these crimes difficult to investigate and stop is the reluctance of victims to report the offence [3, p. 38-43]. The second category, the computer as target, includes crimes in which the computer itself or the information stored on it is the target.
Thieves may burglarize homes and businesses, stealing computer systems. Special challenges in investigating computer crime include the investigators lack of training and the lack of understanding of computer crimes by others within the justice system, the proliferation of such crimes, the fragility of the evidence, jurisdictional questions and the need for specialists and teamwork.A computer virus is a program created to infect other programs with copies of it. Viruses can be transmitted through communication lines or by an infected disk and can infect any Personal Computer. Those who commit these crimes are usually more technologically sophisticated than the investigators assigned to the cases.
People involved in computer crimes are usually technical people such as data entry clerks, machine operators, programmers, systems analysts and hackers. Hackers are continually seeking new challenges, such as breaking into secure government systems, including those of law enforcement. According to Davis the hackers or intruders, break into a number of computers for three reasons: 1. Storage. 2. Protection.
3. Exploitation. Evidence in computer crimes is often contained on disks or CDs, is not readily discernible, and is highly susceptible to destruction. Some form of documentation is the most frequent type of computer evidence. In a very few cases the evidence is the computer equipment. Investigators who handle computer discs should avoid contact with the recording surfaces. Never write on computer disk labels with a ballpoint pen or pencil.
References1. Best Practices for Seizing Electronic Evidence. – Arlington, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2001: http://www.theiacp.
org2. Bloomberg D. Cons Hit the Internet: Same Scams, New Medium // Law and Order. – June 2001. – Pp.
38-40.3. Corr K. Internet Fraud Complaint Center // Law and Order. – May 2002.
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Cyber crime // Police. – July 2002. Pp. 18-24.5. Kopelev S.
D. Are Your Computers Protected // Law Enforcement Technology. – April 2000.
Pp. 18-22.6. Robinson M.D. Law Enforcement Response to Computer-Related Crime // The Police Chief. – July 2003. – P.