Security is crucial to any flourishing society such as the one in which we Americans live today. Imagine if there was no law enforcement in New York City. No one except criminals would dare to walk down the streets. People would live in fear every day. No one would work and no one could enjoy nature and the outdoors. We would all barricade ourselves indoors, only daring to venture outside into the dangerous world when we absolutely needed to. Everything would be different.
Thinking of the Internet as a society, or a global community, one can also apply this notion of the importance of security. Imagine if everyone had access to all the files on every individual's and every business's computers. It would be the same as if all stores in a city were open to the public 24 hours, 7 days a week with all merchandise available for free, and all citizens' homes, credit cards, family heirlooms, etc. as well. It would be anarchy, it would be disastrous.
In America today, citizens generally feel safe. We feel safe not only from our neighbors, but also from attacks by foreign countries. We have the most advanced military defense systems, and we've proven ourselves to be a powerhouse in recent years like in the Persian Gulf War. For a while, many of us perhaps even felt like America was invulnerable. On September 11 of this year 2001, we learned otherwise. We learned that America did have security holes. We learned first-hand about the horrors that criminals could bestow to us as a nation. Similarly, throughout the last 20 or so years, the Internet has harnessed a wide variety of criminals committing new kinds of crimes. What's more, everyone is at risk, the rich and the poor, men and women; everyone who is on the computer-using side of the Digital Divide. A scholarly journal article entitled Password Security: An Empirical Study points out that in 1978, "Stanley Rifkin obtained the electronic transfer code for the Security Pacific Bank in Los Angeles. Posing as a branch manager, he used the code to transfer $13 million from Security Pacific to his Swiss bank account" (Zviran & Haga, 163). Another major security breach happened when "German hackers penetrated military, government, and commercial computer systems... looking for military information that could be sold to the Soviet Union." As exemplified by these crimes, the Internet has security holes just as any country, including America, does. Whether big banks or our own government, criminals will always be trying to find ways to take advantage of people, companies, and countries... and where there's a will, there's a way.
What is satisfying to know is that these online criminals pay for their crimes just as anyone in real life pay for theirs. For example, an article at sciencedirect.com reports that a "17-year-old computer hacker responsible for denial-of-service attacks that crippled several Web sites... has been sentenced to...