User:Vtaylor/CIS2/Spring 2009/Computer Crimes

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CIS 2 Computers and the Internet in Society  :: FALL 2008

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As technology develops, the world must adapt. Crime is an ever present problem, and with the proliferation of computer and computer technologies, crime using computers has become widespread. Computer crime, or cybercrime, is defined as any criminal activity in which computers, or a computer network, is the method or source of a crime. This encompasses a wide variety of crimes, from hacking into databases and stealing sensitive information to using computers to set up illegal activities. Since computers are so widespread, cybercrime has the ability to affect almost anyone today.

Society and computer crime

Society is becoming more integrated with computers, which means more personal information is online. Because of its ease, more business is also being conducted online. This attracts a growing number of criminals who can more easily get away with cybercrime than traditional crimes. Also, since it is harder to catch cyber criminals, they might feel a sense of protection. This leads to them committing cybercrime more frequently. Most people may have been affected by cybercrime in some way. For example, identity theft, a very damaging crime, is still on the rise, mostly through computers. This is the problem which society is confronting today.

Types of computer crime

Hacking Currently defined as to gain illegal or unautorized access to a file, computer or network.

Identity Theft Various crimes in which a criminal or large group uses the identity of an unknowing, innocent person.

  • Phishing: E-mail fishing for personal and financial information disguised as legitimate business e-mail.
  • Pharming: False websites that fish for personal and financial information by planting false URLs in Domain Name Users.

Credit Card Fraud A wide-ranging term for theft and fraud committed using a credit card or any similar payment mechanism as a fraudulent source of funds in a transaction.

Forgery The process of making, adapting, or imitating objects, statistics, or documents, with the intent to deceive.

  • Digital Forgery: New technologies are used to create fake checks, passports, visas, birth certificates with little skill or investments.

Scams A confidence game or other fraudulent scheme,especially for making a quick profit,to cheat or swindle.

  • Auctions: Some sellers do not sell items or send inferior products.
  • Stock Fraud: Common method is to buy a stock low, send out email urging others to buy and then, sell when the price goes up.
  • Click Fraud: Repeated clicking on an ad to either increase a site's revenue or to use up a competitors advertising budget.


Originally, the word, Hacking, was not used as defined above. Hacking was clever piece of code constructed by hackers who were smart and creative programmers. In 1970s to 1990s, the definition of hacking changed as many people started using computers and abused computer terminologies. By 1980s, hacking behavior included spreading viruses, pranks, thefts, and phone phreaking.

The difference between hackers and other criminals is the purpose of crime. Hackers commonly try to benefit not only themselves but also other computer users. Therefore, they have some ethics for their action. They believe sharing computer programs is important in development of new softwares.Openness will help people to access anything they need and use it for their personal demand. Decentralization will prevent authority from abusing information and controlling people. Hands On Imperative/Free access to computersItalic text is indispensable to break barriers between people and new technology. Those ethics will slowly change as the demand for computer changes.

Identity Theft

Today, threats of identify theft come in many forms. It is important that you learn how to recognize fraudulent activity to protect yourself from identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes.

For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold. Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods such as Old-Fashion Stealing, Skimming, Phishing, or Dumpster Diving to get hold of your information. Once they have your personal information, identity thieves use it in a variety of ways, for instance Credit Card Fraud, Bank/Account Fraud, or Government Document Fraud.

To prevent any such identity theft is to monitor you personal accounts, bank statements and check your credit report on a regular basis. If you check your credit report regularly, you may be able to limit the damage caused by identity theft. Filing a police report, checking your credit reports, notifying creditors, and disputing any unauthorized transactions are some of the steps you must take immediately to restore your good name.


Digital forgery has become a big problem with the boom of the internet. Many businesses need proof of identity to perform a service, and with identity fraud being a larger goal for criminals this proof is difficult to accept as truthful. Criminals have access to much more advanced technology and are willing to go to further lengths to steal people's information. A social security number, credit card number, or bank account number are not strong enough proof to show who someone is anymore. Many companies ask for copies of a social security card, birth certificate, or a monthly bill with your name and address on it for further verification. Even going to these lengths is not enough. Digital forgery is taken one step further with software to recreate and manipulate these private documents and proceed with the scam intended.

Unfortunately these scams are being made even more accessible to even the least educated of internet criminals. It is to the point where a thief can obtain your credit card information and recreate your birth certificate for less than it costs to fill up his gas tank. This is frightening because you will never even know if it is happening to you. Everyone must be aware that there are always cyber-criminals on the loose, and no information is sacred on the internet.


As of today there are so many ways to get lured to online scams. People who scam others are often referred as scammers, cheaters and swindlers. Online scams are everywhere they can be fake auctions and promotions. When people read great deals online they believe what they see but in reality it is a game of deceit. The frauds can also happen with health care, credit card, vacation and lottery. The internet changed the way we operate from research, leisure and work. Every day people are cheated by these frauds. People get scammed by fake photos, damaged goods, misleading information, and false advertising. People are tricked into providing their private information like social security numbers, address, phone numbers and credit card information.


  • Steven Levy (1984). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, page ix. Anchor Press/Doubleday

Joseph Menn (12 August 2008). Gangs Get Into Identity Theft. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 November 2008, Website:

  • Five Defendants Charged With Crimes Related To Major Internet-Based Counterfeit Movie Distribution Business. (30 October 2008). United States Department of Justice.

Retrieved 20 November 2008, Website:

  • High School Senior Hacks 38000 Private Records. (27 March 2008).

Retrieved 20 November 2008, Website:


Actual cases of computer crime It contains some examples of actual computer crime.