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Computer crime5

In the world of computers, computer fraud and computer

crime are very prevalent issues facing every computer user.

This ranges from system administrators to personal computer

users who do work in the office or at home. Computers

without any means of security are vulnerable to attacks from

viruses, worms, and illegal computer hackers. If the proper

steps are not taken, safe computing may become a thing of

the past. Many security measures are being implemented to

protect against illegalities.

Companies are becoming more aware and threatened by the

fact that their computers are prone to attack. Virus

scanners are becoming necessities on all machines.

Installing and monitoring these virus scanners takes many

man hours and a lot of money for site licenses. Many server

programs are coming equipped with a program called "netlog."

This is a program that monitors the computer use of the

employees in a company on the network. The program monitors

memory and file usage. A qualified system administrator

should be able to tell by the amounts of memory being used

and the file usage if something is going on that should not

be. If a virus is found, system administrators can pinpoint

the user who put the virus into the network and investigate

whether or not there was any malice intended.

One computer application that is becoming more widely

used and, therefore, more widely abused, is the use of

electronic mail or email. In the present day, illegal

hackers can read email going through a server fairly easily.

Email consists of not only personal transactions, but

business and financial transactions. There are not many

encryption procedures out for email yet. As Gates

describes, soon email encryption will become a regular

addition to email just as a hard disk drive has become a

regular addition to a computer (Gates p.97-98).

Encrypting email can be done with two prime numbers

used as keys. The public key will be listed on the Internet

or in an email message. The second key will be private,

which only the user will have. The sender will encrypt the

message with the public key, send it to the recipient, who

will then decipher it again with his or her private key.

This method is not foolproof, but it is not easy to unlock

either. The numbers being used will probably be over 60

digits in length (Gates p.98-99).

The Internet also poses more problems to users. This

problem faces the home user more than the business user.

When a person logs onto the Internet, he or she may download

a file corrupted with a virus. When he or she executes that

program, the virus is released into the system. When a

person uses the World Wide Web(WWW), he or she is

downloading files into his or her Internet browser without

even knowing it. Whenever a web page is visited, an image

of that page is downloaded and stored in the cache of the

browser. This image is used for faster retrieval of that

specific web page. Instead of having to constantly download

a page, the browser automatically reverts to the cache to

open the image of that page. Most people do not know about

this, but this is an example of how to get a virus in a

machine without even knowing it.

Every time a person accesses the Internet, he or she is

not only accessing the host computer, but the many computers

that connect the host and the user. When a person transmits

credit card information, it goes over many computers before

it reaches its destination. An illegal hacker can set up

one of the connecting computers to copy the credit card

information as it passes through the computer. This is how

credit card fraud is committed with the help of the

Internet. What companies such as Maxis and Sierra are doing

are making secure sites. These sites have the capabilities

to receive credit card information securely. This means the

consumer can purchase goods by credit card over the Internet

without worrying that the credit card number will be seen by

unauthorized people.

System administrators have three major weapons against

computer crime. The first defense against computer crime is

system security. This is the many layers systems have

against attacks. When data comes into a system, it is

scanned for viruses and safety. Whenever it passes one of

these security layers, it is scanned again. The second

resistance against viruses and corruption is computer law.

This defines what is illegal in the computer world. In the

early 1980's, prosecutors had problems trying suspect in

computer crimes because there was no definition of illegal

activity. The third defense is the teaching of computer

ethics. This will hopefully defer people from becoming

illegal hackers in the first place (Bitter p. 433).

There are other ways companies can protect against

computer fraud than in the computer and system itself. One

way to curtail computer fraud is in the interview process

and training procedures. If it is made clear to the new

employee that honesty is valued in the company, the employee

might think twice about committing a crime against the

company. Background checks and fingerprinting are also good

ways to protect against computer fraud.

Computer crime prevention has become a major issue in

the computer world. The lack of knowledge of these crimes

and how they are committed is a factor as to why computer

crime is so prevalent. What must be realized is that the

"weakest link in any system is the human" (Hafner and

Markoff p. 61). With the knowledge and application of the

preventative methods discussed, computer crime may actually

become an issue of the past.

Works Cited

Bitter, Gary G., ed. The MacMillian Encyclopedia of

Computers. MacMillian Publishing Company: New York,


Gates, William. The Road Ahead. New York : Penguin Books,


Hafner, Katie & John Markoff. Cyberpunk. New York : Simon

and Schuster, 1991.

Romney, Marshall. "Computer Fraud - What Can Be Done

About It?" CPA Journal Vol. 65 (May 1995): p. 30-33.

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