Computer Crime

Overview With each passing year, more and more of our vital information is stored, transferred, and processed on computers via the Internet. The same interconnectivity between millions of computers that allows you to send e-mail across the world with the press of a button also allows computer criminals to do their dirty work. Law enforcement agencies scramble to keep up with continually evolving computer technology and growing rates of computer based crime. The news media often popularizes these types of crimes, making celebrities out of famous "hackers." Computer crime is a popular topic, inspiring many Web sites, magazine articles, and television programs.  

General Information Computer crime encompasses a broad range of computer-related activities that are deemed unlawful. These unlawful activities range from serious cases of fraud and corporate espionage, to common viruses, worms, copyright violations, and pranks. 

The U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) publishes a Web site (www.cybercrime.gov/) containing the information about “cybercrime” issues, privacy and freedom of information issues, laws and policies, and criminal investigation procedures. Be sure to visit the National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) site (www.virtualref.com/govagency/494.htm) for articles about computer crime and the potential threats posed by viruses and worms. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a non-profit group that is dedicated to protecting the individual’s right to free speech and information exchange, regardless of the technology. The EFF serves as a watchdog organization for Internet-related legislation that might limit free speech. Visit the EFF Web site (www.eff.org/) to read more about the EFF, current alerts and threats, online privacy, and active legal cases.  Read the PC World article about what the FBI calls an “epidemic” of computer crime worldwide at PCworld.com.

Computer Crime Legislation Historically, computer criminals have been able to stay a few steps ahead of law enforcement. However the Internet has allowed authorities to catch up technologically. Visit the site http://www.crime-research.org/  to read about court cases, news stories, and laws regarding computer crime. There's a good article titled "Computer Crime Categories:
How Techno-Criminals Operate"
with a wealth of cybercrime information at www.lectlaw.com/files/cri14.htm.

Famous Hackers Some of the more famous cybercriminals, such as Mafiaboy, Kevin Mitnick, and Mark Abene have become household names; but these people are not the only high-profile hackers. Go to the “Hacker’s Hall of Fame” to read about other hackers who have been apprehended by law enforcement officials. You can read more about Mafiaboy in the ABC News article at www.wired.com/news/technology/, and an interesting story about Kevin Mitnick can be found at www.theregister.co.uk.