Understanding How Cyber Crime Occurs and the Solutions of Law Enforcement
When I was around fifteen, I received my first IPod for Christmas. I remember that
device like it was yesterday. Black front and a black back, with my initials engraved on it. It was a great gift because I loved music and still do. Since ITunes was the only way to acquire new music, I found myself constantly spending money on songs and albums. I decided to see if there were any other ways I could satisfy my addiction. The best alternative I could find was a website called LimeWire. You downloaded a program to your computer and it allowed you to synch your IPod with virtually any music you wanted. Looking back at this today, I realize that I committed a crime. Although this wasn’t a serious offense, downloading illegal music is still considered a cyber crime. This new wave of crime has been on this rise, and it is not limited to just downloading music. With advances in technology, cyber crimes have gotten much more severe. In order to protect society, a better understanding of why cyber crimes occur must be known, as well as how law enforcement can prevent these crimes from happening.
The article “Cyber Crime”, written by Ileana Ştefan, describes what cyber crime is. The piece discusses the various crimes that fall under the term ‘cyber crime’. Ştefan uses data
collected by professionals in the field of cyber crime to convey her point and make her paper
“Cybercrime is criminal activity done using computers and the Internet” (Stefan 115). quote is broad. You can do virtually anything sitting behind a computer. Almost every American owns a computer or has access to a computer. On college campuses, it is strongly encouraged to own a laptop so you can complete your assignments. When I was preparing to come to Mercyhurst over the summer, I received an email letting me know my housing, roommate, and a long list of others. One thing that stuck out most to me was that the email stated that your personal computer needed to be outfitted with anti-virus software. The email went on to say that you would not be allowed to gain access to the Internet without the
appropriate software. It was comforting knowing that my university was looking out for my
personal accounts and data on my laptop. However, it was also intriguing knowing that a
cyber crime might occur.
Cyber crime is not just limited to one area. Stefan writes, “Users are encouraged to use sites that appear to be legitimate but in reality they are fake, asking for personal information, such as login information” (116). There have been many cases of phony companies sending out emails to customers stating that they need to update their personal information. The people behind these fake emails use your personal information, such as your social security number and credit card information, against you. A few years ago my father received a call from his bank asking him if he had recently purchased two plane tickets to Europe. My father declined the transaction and no harm was done. Somehow a hacker on the Internet was able to extract my father’s credit card information, perhaps from a recent online purchase. The threat of online scams and theft is always there. The best prevention is education. Internet users need to know what could happen and be savvy about what you respond to and enter on the Internet.
“Policing Cybercrimes: Situating the Public Police in Networks of Security within Cyberspace” by David S. Wall is an article that talks about how the confusion of cybercrime can be solved. Wall talks about how the police are handling cybercrime. Nodal architecture is another point discussed in this piece, and Wall talks about the importance of reconfiguring it to better protect society.
‘Computer integrity’ is a point Wall brings up and it is an important topic to think about. “Computer integrity crimes are offending behaviors that assault the integrity of network access mechanisms” (Wall 186). Wall goes on to define what type of crimes ‘computer integrity’ entails. “They include hacking and cracking, vandalism, spying, denial of service, and the planting and use of viruses and Trojans” (Wall 186). When I am bored, which is very rare in college, I enjoy playing games online. Popular websites such as Miniclip and Candystand offer thousands of games that can cure any boredom. Last year, I visited a different game website and as a result my computer at home was infected with a virus. My anti-virus software did not detect the virus until it was already on my device. I was forced to take my computer into Best Buy. After countless hours and a hefty bill, my computer was finally free of all viruses. It’s safe to say I learned my lesson after that experience. Wall writes, “Socially engineered variants such as ‘phishing’, advanced fee frauds and the manipulation of new online sales environments, particularly auction sites” (186). This quote is significant because it shows how cybercrime isn’t just isolated to one area of the Internet. Like technology, cyber crime is advancing and growing as well. With the development of online auction websites such as EBay, it has enabled people to steal information from others with little to no work. Cyber crimes occur in many different ways. The ability for people to better understand what these criminals look for is a strategic defense against them.
The source “Controlling Cyber-Crime and Gambling: Problems and Paradoxes in the Mediation of Law and Criminal Organization” by John L. McMullan & David C. Perrier talks about cybercrime and the methods used by police and law enforcement to prevent these crimes.
Law enforcement officials have begun to implement new techniques as well as stricter rules in order to prevent cyber crime. One of these techniques includes scare tactics. Some of the cyber crimes committed today are not that serious, such as downloading illegal music. When law enforcement implements scare tactics, many people don’t commit the act of downloading music. However, for more serious crimes such as identity theft and stealing money, police have implemented more strict techniques. Many law enforcement agencies have special units designated to cyber crime. They have the technology to determine the
origin of the crime so field agents can conduct an assault on that house.
“Law enforcement agents have the ability to secure telephone lines that connect the machine to the registration system, freeze the records, and seize equipment from the suspects’ home” (McMullan and Perrier 440). Many companies have begun to implement their own measures to combat cyber crimes. Banks, for example, call to ask the cardholder to approve of a transaction if it is over a certain dollar amount. This prevents purchases not made by the cardholder, if for some reason your account gets hacked. Another technique used by law enforcement is the use of online surveillance. This allows companies and agencies to watch activity on websites to monitor for suspicious activity. This surveillance can either be manned or unmanned. Downloadable software can be used to monitor activity and the money saved can go to further security measures. Security measures taken by law enforcement and companies has helped stem the flow of cyber crimes.
For my field research I wanted to see how many people have committed some kind of cyber crime before. Prior to this research I formulated that most people have not committed any serious cyber crime, except for downloading music. When posting this question I received feedback almost instantly. Out of the thirty-six people that responded to my question, thirty-two had downloaded illegal music at some point. Around eighty-nine percent of people who answered had downloaded illegal music. Perhaps that’s a good thing though. Law enforcement is focusing their time and assets to prevent larger crimes from happening such as identity theft. The insignificant crimes in the larger picture are being allowed. This field research shows how cyber crime, no matter how small, is occurring.
Cyber crime has been an increasing problem over the past few years. Advances in technology have made it easier than ever for criminals to gain access to the personal information of others. Law enforcement has begun to implement harsher punishments as well as creative strategies to help prevent these crimes.
McMullan, John L., and David C. Perrier. “Controlling Cyber-Crime And Gambling: Problems And Paradoxes In The Mediation Of Law And Criminal Organization.” Police Practice & Research 8.5 (2007): 431-444. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2014. ŞTEFAN, Ileana. “Cyber Crime.” Juridical Current 14.3 (2011): 115-120. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.
Wall, David S. “Policing Cybercrimes: Situating The Public Police In Networks Of Security
Within Cyberspace.” Police Practice & Research 8.2 (2007): 183-205. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Nov. 2014.