The proliferation of technology and associated tools especially computers has caused society to heavily rely on technology in different areas and aspects of people’s everyday lives, ranging from business management to domestic applications; mostly with positive benefits. However, this has also led to new forms of crimes that are technologically and specifically computer-related, which Fariborzi & Hajibaba (2012) indicate includes hacking, internet fraud, currency counterfeiting and money laundering as well as online child pornography, among others. With four common categories and varied types of computer crime, the category involving the role of the computer presents the greatest overall threat to society and which must be dealt with collaboratively by the criminal justice system through legislation and specialized knowledge.
Categories of Computer Crimes
Sen (2001) highlights four common categories of computer crimes as including the role of computers, computer vulnerability, the source of the computer threat and the actual crimes committed. The first category is divided into four in terms of computers as end target, as means or instruments, as incidental to other crimes and those associated with prevalence of computers. Associated crimes include intellectual property theft, credit card fraud, illegal bank transactions and software piracy respectively. The second category is more specific in terms of vulnerability of computer components or related structures and processes including hardware and computer-controlled devices and processes in buildings, respectively. The third category focuses on whether an inside person such as system administrators or outsiders especially hackers, perpetrates the computer crime, where confidential information may be accessed and used illegally. The fourth category focuses on the actual crimes which include Trojan horses, trap/back doors and data manipulation among others which can disrupt entire company systems or delete valuable data or information.
Greatest Computer Crime Threat
Carter (1995) shows that, in computers as end targets, criminals use computers to access vital information like in stealing intellectual assets while as means or instruments, information obtained is used to commit crimes like credit card fraud. Computers as incidental to other crimes shows computer involvement in crime but not necessarily, as in computerized records for drug trafficking while those associated with prevalence of computers indicate new computer crimes due too much technology as in the case of software piracy. The first category presents the greatest overall threat because it has a larger scope of computer crimes. This is because the usage of computers for criminal purposes makes it difficult to identify and capture the perpetrators as well as the fact that many business assets and industrial processes are computerized and hence highly vulnerable to hacking using other computers.
Criminal Justice and Computer Crime Prevention
Tomar, Rai & Kharb (2006) indicate that lack of established illegality of computer crimes potentially hinders prevention and dealing with cybercriminals whose activities brings about negative outcomes such white collar crime as well as child pornography and exploitation, among others. As such, the American government and its criminal justice system needs to do better in formulating stricter legislations, with the first step being in-depth understanding and definition of related crimes as indicated by Finklea & Theohary (2013). The law enforcement branch of the criminal justice system also need to be well-versed and experts in computer crimes which can be accomplished through learning and dissemination of relevant information to recruits. They should also keep abreast with computer technologies as they hit the market while collaborating with external consultants who have special expertise on computer technologies.
With computers being the most utilized technological tools for enhanced business and industrial processes, storage of vital information and utilization in network communication infrastructures, the accompanying vulnerabilities like theft of intellectual assets, among others, must be addressed. Four common categories of computer crimes including the role of computers, computer vulnerability, the source of the computer threat and the actual crimes committed, are identified. The first category, and specifically computers as end targets, presents the greatest overall threat because it has a larger scope of computer crimes and that computers are widely used in businesses and industry for vital activities. Considering the potential negative outcomes tied to computer crimes, prevention through criminal justice efforts must incorporate stricter legislation guided by in-depth understanding of computer crimes as well as acquisition of special knowledge and expertise in computer technologies.
- Carter, D.L. (1995). Computer Crime Categories. FBI: Law Enforcement Bulletin, 64(7), 21-26.
- Fariborzi, E. & Hajibaba, M. (2012). Computer crimes, problems, Law enforcement for solving complaints and education. International Conference on Education Technology and Computer, IPCSIT, 43(2012), 1-5.
- Finklea, K.M. & Theohary, C.A. (2013). Cybercrime: Conceptual issues for congress and U.S. law enforcement. Congressional Research Service, 7-5700-R42547, 1-26.
- Sen, O.N. (2001). Criminal justice responses to emerging computer crime problems. Master of Science (Criminal Justice), University Of North Texas. 1-133.
- Tomar, P., Rai, B. & Kharb, L. (2006). New vision of computer forensic science: Need of cybercrime law. The Internet Journal of Law, Healthcare and Ethics, 4(2). Retrieved from http://ispub.com