Computers have been used for most kinds of crime, including fraud, theft, larceny, embezzlement, burglary, sabotage, espionage, murder, and forgery, since the first cases were reported in 1958. One study of 1,500 computer crimes established that most of them were committed by trusted computer users within businesses; persons with the requisite skills, knowledge, access, and resources. With the arrival of personal computers to manipulate information and access computers by telephone, increasing numbers of crimes--electronic trespassing, copyrighted-information piracy, vandalism--have been committed by computer hobbyists, known as "hackers," who display a high level of technical expertise. For many years, the term hacker defined someone who was a wizard with computers and programming. It was a challenge to all hackers, and an honor to be considered a hacker. But when a few hackers began to use their skills to break into private computer systems and steal money, or interfere with the system's operations, the word acquired its current negative meaning. With the growing use of computers and the increase in computer crimes, early detection, deterring computer crimes, and new laws regulating and punishing these computer crimes are necessary. Without it, chaos will be the end result.
The Growing Threat of Computer Crime
Do you think your company’s computer systems are secure? Think again. Billions of
dollars in losses have already been discovered due to computer crimes. Billions more have gone undetected. Trillions more will be stolen, most without detection, by the emerging master criminal of the twenty first century --The computer crime offender. What’s worse yet is that anyone with a computer can become a computer criminal.
Crimes such as embezzlement, fraud and money laundering are not new. However, each of these crimes now has a new partner in crime-the computer. Crimes that have become unique due to the availability and widespread use of computers include:
a. unauthorized use, access, modification, copying, and destruction of software or
b. theft of money by altering computer records of theft of computer time;
c. theft or destruction of hardware;
d. use or conspiracy to use computer resources to commit a felony;
e. intent to obtain information or tangible property, illegally through use of the
computer. (Fraud Survey Results, 1993)
Although incidents in this second category of crimes do present a serious problem, embezzlement is by far the major threat to small businesses. This is evident by the frequency of reports in the local media. Cash is the most vulnerable asset as it is the easiest for the perpetrator to convert to personal use. Firms most vulnerable to theft of money are firms that must rely on one individual to perform the duties of office manager and bookkeeper. Having more than one employee in the office provides an opportunity to effect certain internal...