Social Control Of Cyber Space

Social Control Of Cyber Space Social Control of Cyberspace B. Pereyra Our nation’s infrastructure is daily becoming much more of an abstract environment due to the use of organized cyber criminals hacking away at our super computer information systems. They are generating unpredictable challenges for law enforcement in discovering the unethical abuse on computer systems and a concentration on the young topic of cyber terrorism threatening our criminal justice system. Our law enforcement continues to invent newer methods to function and learn from this new social phenomenon and define cyber terrorism activity as motivation by the rapid growth of technology as a challenge, dominance, and as pleasure to obtain privileged information for illegal use to intentionally harm others and our information networks as well. Therefore, it is of relevance to explore the behavior of a computer hacker and a cracker; including the control, response, and the appropriate measures to combat this new crime wave, and how the academic community, courts, police, and the scientific government are approaching this radical form of crime.

On October 25th, 1983, a hearing was formed by the U.S. Congress on the issue of computer security in the federal government and the private sector. The hearing discussed the level of importance on how serious the United States Government must become in learning to monitor the use of computers and Internet through several knowledgeable witnesses. Susan H. Nycum, an attorney representing Gaston, Snow and Ely Barlett firm’s computer high technology group defined computer crime as: ..

any illegal act where a special knowledge of computer technology is essential for its perpetration, investigation, or prosecution” (Nycum, 15). Nycum also added before the committee that computer abuse falls into four categories that follow. The first category is abuse like financial fraud and theft, incidents of theft of money from financial institutions or goods from businesses. The second is information fraud and theft. Information can be data, such as business secrets stored in computer systems, valuable to computer programs and data about individuals.

The third category is theft of services. For example, systems hackers who use computer time to look around or employees who run entire profitable computer enterprises, such as service bureaus on the company or agency computer systems are examples of this kind of abuse. Lastly, vandalism, where computers have been damaged or destroyed as have databases and programs to perpetrate crimes. In addition, Nycum also points out that computers are involved in several ways as tools or objects for an attack. For example, international terrorists have used bombs and submachine guns to attack at least 28 computer centers of multi national companies and government agencies in Italy and France over the past years. A misguided employee of a U.S. company firebombed a computer of a competing company for the purpose of giving his employer a competitive business advantage.

Furthermore, a computer can be the subject of crime by providing the automated mechanism to modify and manipulate new forms of assets, such as computer programs and information representing money. For example, bank frauds have been accomplished by manipulating the system to transfer small amounts of money from one account, which is later withdrawn. This is known as the salami effect, where near the end, after slicing the intruded account, the complete account is exhausted by all the small transfers or withdrawals. Bogus accounts have been created in computerized delivery or accounts payable systems to which goods have been shipped or money paid by financial institutions and retailers. Changes to computerized data have resulted in inflation of inventories in credit ratings, employment reviews, college and school grade records, etc.

Lastly, a person can use a computer as an instrument for conducting or planning a crime. A perpetrator modeled his crime on a computer to alert him to the amount of activities he could engage in without attracting attention to his deeds, and later used the computer as a management tool to keep track of the activity, or even aid a stockbroker to produce forged investment statements to show huge profits to deceive his client and steal millions. Thus, the cyber criminal can only use the symbol of the computer to intimidate or deceive others. An example would be to convince his victim that he possess a very unique money making program or application able to do wonders like to hack classified information. Amazingly, it is difficult for agencies, institutions, or the private sector to know the extent of computer crime and abuse. Like other crimes, cyber terrorism is very difficult to detect until it has already struck, causing millions, if not billions of dollars, or even life.

In June 1999, tens of thousands of computer systems in several major U.S. companies (including AT&T, Boeing, and General Electric) had their files infected, damaged, or destroyed by a software virus, Explore. Zip worm. This file-destroying but, first detected in Israel, arrived as an e-mail message and utilized MAPI commands and Microsoft Outlook on Windows systems to propagate itself. It has been estimated that damages from the Explore.

Zip worm and other viruses (e.g., Melissa macro virus) topped $7 billion during the first two quarters of 1999. By the end of the year, computer intrusions will cost private industry more than $20 billion (Alexander & Swetnam, 4). It may seem Internet bandwidth connections have advanced way beyond what the program creators of File Transfer Protocol (FTP) ever imagined. Complete files can be sent across the globe at the click of a mouse into other hard-drives in less than 45 million bits per second on a T-3 connection. Currently, the T-3 is one of the fastest digital lines available for any person who could cast an effective attack in less than 0.06 seconds.

Scary, don’t you think? Unbelievably so, attacks did come about during the Kosovo War. Serb entities attempted to overwhelm NATO computers by ping attacks which establish communication with a target computer and occupies its functions by continuing to stay linked and feeding the computer system information. Recently, similar attacks were made towards the online auction website EBAY, and other electronic commerce websites using the same technique. Devices, such as an amplifiers assist the hacker in resending the signal repeatedly, causing vulnerable servers to lag or crash, making it disabled for blameless users to visit the website for the information they seek justifiably. Whether or not the attempts by the user are to just visit the website or surf unto the information and cause a crime, it is difficult to really suspect them in committing an illegal operation or an attempt to cause major inner structural damage to the providers server until it has already been done. For instance, in 1970 Susan Nycum was director of Stanford University’s Computer Facility when her office was entered by a person saying, I think we are about to have a problem. In her own words, What had happened wa …