The widespread occurrence of computer crime has given rise to abundant research and investigation on the subject. The incidence of criminal behavior on the internet is directly related to the increase in time users spend at the computer. That is, the longer people spend working, communicating, doing business, or seeking entertainment on their computers, the more likely they are to encounter – or attempt – criminal behaviors (Jaishankar 27). Any endeavor to research this subject must include data, findings, and studies from the early days of the internet to the present day, because changes and innovations occur rapidly and constantly.
It is not difficult to find recent works that treat the subject of cyber criminality. A number of excellent books have been written by Information Technology (IT) experts, and there are also some very comprehensive law books, which enumerate the aspects of crimes that take place online, how they are dealt with, and the legislation put into place to control them.
Robert Moore (2010), in his recent book Cybercrime, Second Edition: Investigating High-Technology Computer Crime, introduces researchers, and those whose job it is to investigate online misconduct, to existing and emerging hi-tech crimes. He explores legal issues, digital evidence and how it is presented; and shows how criminal justice responds to cyber criminology. As new ways of breaking the law using computers are devised by those with malice in mind, new ways must be found to fight them (Moore 15). This IT expert explains how certain terms, such as ‘hacker’, came about, what online criminals do and how they think, and how investigators at agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) go about understanding, investigating and controlling their ill deeds (Moore 24). The book also treats data manipulation, denial-of-service attacks, the creation of Trojan horses and other viruses, and goes on to describe the language and ethics of hackers.
“In less than 15 years, cybercrime has moved from obscurity to the spotlight of consumer, corporate and national security concerns.” (Florencio and Herley, 2012) So starts an article in a New York Times earlier this year. The article goes on to give some statistics about the frequency and growth of online crime and how the only reason incidences are not more massive is that pickings are necessarily limited and exhausted quickly. The writers assert that although many respondents to surveys exaggerate their losses, it would be a ‘mistake not to consider cybercrime to be a serious problem.’ (Florencio and Herley, 2012).
In their latest book Computer Crime, Investigation, and the Law, C. Easttom and J. Taylor (2010) write that the online world is awash ‘in identity theft, online child predators, and even cyber espionage’. They enumerate cases of unauthorized access, phishing, auction fraud, session hijacking, brute force attacks, foot-printing, and website hacking that are becoming harder to predict, prepare for, or counter. Hacking techniques are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to fight (Easttom and Taylor 209). Identity theft techniques, for instance, are doubling in efficiency every week, and because the consequences for the victims can be very severe and difficult to reverse, hundreds of thousands of people are affected.
In Cyber Criminology: Exploring Internet Crimes and Criminal Behavior, the editor K. Jaishankar (2011) has collected articles by a number of noted authors on the subject of computer crime, with topics that include the criminal subculture of the internet, deviants’ and perpetrators’ perspectives, how hackers regard identity construction, digital piracy, and cyber stalking. This interesting book has an important conclusion by the editor that shows how location has become irrelevant, and that crime on the internet can have no real limits or borders. It is no longer a question whether cyber criminology will emerge as a separate discipline, but rather when this will be established in colleges, universities and the courses run by crime fighters in this all-important field (Jaishankar 411).
One of the most important findings that appear in these books is that computer crime is committed by those to whom online anonymity seems to mean identity flexibility, and is related to dissociative behavior (Jaishankar xxix). If one commits a crime online, the likelihood of criminal behavior offline is increased. This does not bode well for the future, and seems to indicate that everyone must be more security-conscious and mindful of cybercrime and its implications.
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