Introduction Computer based crimes have become more sophisticated and less discerning over the past couple decades The intent of the perpetrator is often malicious and or financial but unlike most crimes he can be located on the other side of the world Until he is caught the criminal is as faceless as the individuals and corporations he victimizes Identity theft phishing and cyberterrorism are examples of the most serious computer crimes Although identity theft and phishing are similar in that the motive is to steal personal information phishing is slightly different because it involves tricking the unsuspecting victim while online Identity thieves can be tech savvy individuals criminal groups or dishonest and careless employees in organizations with lax policies
The stolen laptop from the Maryland home of an employee from the Department of Veterans Affairs is one popular example of lenient policies within institutions and corporations Other factors that drive individuals to steal private information include a dismal economy fewer resources for law enforcement and budget constraints that make organizations focus more on survival and less on protecting personal information Britt 2009a p 43
Therefore the current economic recession witnesses a sharp increase in these sorts of crimes and criminals would take advantage of these vulnerabilities because they exist and this is especially true in times of financial difficulty Law enforcement has the formidable task of keeping track and apprehending these miscreants who often escape prosecution Cyberterrorism on the other hand is usually ideological in nature It is defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI as the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government the civilian population or any segment thereof in furtherance of political or social objectives through the exploitation of systems deployed by the target Ashley 2003 p 6
The western focus has been quite heavy on terrorist organizations from Arab nations but these elements can come from any part of the globe Many western governments fear that terrorist groups would either attempt holding the global networks hostage or attack a vital government facility by use of the Internet However an analytical report of a study of jihadist websites has concluded that though they have many ideological similarities many are relatively independent of each other and differ structurally somewhat in scope and objective Surprisingly despite the fears the Internet is mainly used as a communicative tool and not for an attack on information systems Rogan 2006 p 8 The websites also help to gather information about potential targets to recruit and mobilize potential and or current members to circulate propaganda material to gain publicity and financial support and to engage in psychological warfare with its enemies Rogan 2006 Issues Analysis Computer crimes are committed in numerous ways In the case of identity theft as previously mentioned stolen laptops that are not password protected or encrypted is one method Organizations with less stringent policies that often do not have sufficient financial resources to ensure data security is another According to the Identity Theft Resource Center 35 million records were breached in 2008 which highlighted the difficulty in securing sensitive information GoodBadUgly 2009 It takes less effort to hack into these unsecure data systems to steal information
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