Essay Example on Computer based crimes have become more Sophisticated

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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



The Federal Trade Commission which receives complaints of credit card as well as other kinds of fraud reported that personal information obtained such as the credit card and social security numbers would be sold on some online chat rooms In some cases the victims are unaware that their credit card number is being sold online until it is too late The FTC has also observed an increase in fraudulent filed tax return which doubled in 2008 Identity Theft Complaints 2009 Medical Identity theft is a combination of ID theft and health care fraud It accounts for 2 7 to 3 2 percent of identity theft or approximately 250 000 cases per year and steadily increasing McKay 2008 p 27 Unique physician ID numbers UPIN and patient identification information are stolen to bill for services but the latter can also be used to receive services Employees either steal the information for sale or organized crime entities set up fake clinics with at least one real doctor in order to use his Drug Enforcement Agency number and UPIN to bill for services Patients would receive one time of legitimate service but their medical information is used for more than a year to bill the government The vulnerable and the elderly are often the victims of these dastardly schemes since they are usually supported by Medicare and Medicaid Patients of private insurance companies also fall prey but are defrauded for no more than three months The deceased are not even spared Medicare fraud is apparently more profitable than some other types of fraud A thief downloading and stealing data can get 50 on the street for a medical identification number compared to just 1 for a Social Security number For those receiving the medical ID number and using it to defraud a healthcare organization the average payout is more than 20 000 McKay 2008 p 28 Phishing is a more creative type of Identity fraud Emails are sent from seemingly official financial institutions such as the intended victim s bank warning them that either their password is about to expire or a problem has occurred The email would include a link to a fake banking website which is made to look like the real one The unsuspecting victims would then enter their personal and financial information Spear phishing a more advanced method involves sending emails with attachments from official institutions such as a district court When the attachments which resemble subpoenas are downloaded keystroke loggers are unknowingly downloaded and installed as well which gives remote access to the PC Corporate executives are often the targets of this scheme also called whaling for the really big phish fish Increasing Employee Awareness 2009 p 6

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