Digital Computer Crime

1194 words | 4 page(s)

Cybercrime is a far-reaching, yet easy endeavor that has had, is having and will have dangerous short-term and long-term effects. Computer crime refers to the several ways in which computers can be used to engage in cybercrime which takes places over the Internet and through digital and computer networks. Since the rise of the Internet and rapid technological changes, cybercrime has grown through identity theft, phishing and hacking, and sex crimes related to children. This paper will address the most common forms of digital computer crimes and what they have cost not only the United States, but the world in terms of protection and security. It will also explain the biggest threat to cybersecurity and national security—information warfare. In an age of fake news, it is important now more than ever to ensure that news is authentic, true and accurately representative of the people. Responding to cybercrime is the responsibility of the federal government and its agencies; the paper will also include a recommendation on further initiatives to take to protect the nation through the Internet.

Keywords: cybercrime, cybersecurity, digital crime
Digital Computer Crime
The four major categories of computer crimes include internal computer crimes; telecommunications crimes; computer manipulation crimes, and traditional theft of tangible software and hardware. According to the Library of Congress’ Science Tracer Bullet, the advent of technology and the rise of the Internet of Things has greatly contributed to the proliferation of computer crime. Since technology is so commonplace and a ubiquitous part of daily life for the majority of people, there are multiple ways that computers have become the “weapon of choice” (“Computer Crime and Security”). As beneficial and transformative as technology is, there are criminals who have harnessed the freedom and flexibility of the internet to commit crimes that often go undetected for those very reasons. From trojan hoses to viruses to hacking and fraud, computer crimes are creating the need for technological laws and legislation, which has proven to be difficult as the law has been shown not to move at the rapid pace that technology and society do.

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The computer, whether it is an instrument of the crime or incidental to the crime, has created new avenues for a new type of crime: cybercrime. No matter the type, computer crime poses several levels of threats not only to individuals, but to the freedom of the Internet and to nations’ levels of security. The most common forms of cybercrime include identity theft, hacking and phishing (using fake emails to get personal information), and sex crimes related to children and minors. In 2017, there were more than 16 million victims of identity theft online and in a year where many companies were victims of security breaches on their systems, consumers were left at great risk. Equifax, Target and other corporations were hit by hackers who exploited point-of-sale and online record-keeping systems that put Social Security numbers and personal credit card information at risk (“Facts + Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime”). These security breaches are coming at high costs to businesses to the tune of $7.91 million dollars in the United States, being the average cost. As for hacking and phishing, these cyber-attacks work by disguising emails and websites as a trusted entity, such as a corporation or important person, so that people can enter their personal information and credentials into what is actually a cloned website. From there, their information and lives become vulnerable to being revealed and/or manipulated. Phishing and hacking attacks are common, and some have been common enough to make the mainstream news, such as when Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign chair John Podesta was duped into giving up his Gmail password by what he thought was an official Google correspondence, the same way that Colin Powell’s email was hacked. Podesta emails were then mass released in the weeks leading up to the November presidential election (“The phishing email that hacked the account of John Podesta”).

Finally, grooming and sex-related crimes that are targeted toward children is one of the most dangerous and disturbing crimes that has risen in the age of the Internet. It is a form of sexual exploitation and federal law prohibits any production, distribution, reception or possession of said pornography. Online communities have made photos readily available through any and all virtual channels and offenders, pedophiles and ephebophiles have created and found online communities to share their interests and desires, often in justification of their “sexual orientation.” Offenders evade law enforcement with encryption techniques and communicating on the dark web, the lower echelon of the Internet that is heavily protected and undetected. Some even go as far as seeking out children using the internet to groom them and lure them into “relationships” online and offline, despite it being illegal conduct.

At this time, the greatest threat regarding computer crimes is information warfare, a type of cyberterrorism that is used to gain an edge over political, social and cultural adversaries and when en masse, blend information and actions that make nations vulnerable. In the era of “fake news,” it is important now more than ever to recognize this new face of war that is rapidly growing and evolving as the United States is embroiled in conflict over allegations of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential elections. In August, the Senate Selection Committee on Intelligence asked experts on how foreign actors have been using social media to interfere with the American political process and while Russian interference has already been established, several social media networks and sites are rising as victims (and culprits) of the information war. In an attempt to possibly subdue or restrict free speech, the information war is already waging, and the problem is separating the infiltrators from those who have the right to express and communicate the free flow of ideas.

The most important party that can target cybercrime is the United States government and its court systems. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the primary agency of the government that investigates cyber-attacks by cybercriminals, terrorists and governmental and political adversaries. Tasked with stopping and preventing cyber intrusions to protect the nation’s infrastructure, the FBI also has the Cyber Division whose team focuses on protecting government and private citizens computer networks. This team, along with the Computer Crimes Task Forces, Cyber Action Teams, the United States Department of Defense and the United States Department of Homeland Security, is united in building new technologies to fight back in cyberspace nationally and internationally. The public has been made greatly aware of how to protect themselves from becoming victims of cybercrime, yet there is more that agencies could do to protect citizens, freedom of speech and the free flow of information. Government agencies and cybersecurity officials can make enterprises and framework systems more accessible to citizens to improve their overall online profiles for protection.

  • CBS News. (2016, October 28). The phishing email that hacked the account of John Podesta. Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-phishing-email-that-hacked-the-account-of-john-podesta/
  • Computer Crime and Security. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.loc.gov/rr/scitech/tracer-bullets/compcrimetb.html
  • Facts Statistics: Identity theft and cybercrime. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2018, from https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-identity-theft-and-cybercrime

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