Computer Crime (2899 words) Essay

Computer Crime
It’s the weekend, you have nothing to do so you decide to play around on your
computer. You turn it on and then start up, you start calling people with your
modem, connecting to another world, with people just like you at a button press
away. This is all fine but what happens when you start getting into other
peoples computer files. Then it becomes a crime, but what is a computer crime
really, obviously it involves the use of a computer but what are these crimes.

Well they are: Hacking, Phreaking, ; Software Piracy. To begin I will start
with Hacking, what is hacking. Hacking is basically using your computer to
“Hack” your way into another. They use programs called scanners which
randomly dials numbers any generating tones or carriers are recorded. These
numbers are looked at by hackers and then used again, when the hacker calls up
the number and gets on he’s presented with a logon prompt, this is where the
hacking really begins, the hacker tries to bypass this anyway he knows how to
and tries to gain access to the system. Why do they do it, well lets go to a
book and see “Avid young computer hackers in their preteens and teens are
frequently involved in computer crimes that take the form of trespassing,
invasion of privacy, or vandalism. Quite often they are mearly out for a fun and
games evening, and they get entangled in the illegal use of their machines
without realizing the full import of what they are doing”, I have a hard
time believing that so lets see what a “hacker” has to say about what
he does “Just as they were enthraled with their pursuit of information, so
are we. The thrill of the hack is not in breaking the law, it’s in the pursuit
and capture of knowledge.”, as you can see the “hacker” doesn’t
go out to do destroy things although some do. It’s in the pursuit of knowledge.

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Of course this is still against the law. But where did all of this start, MIT is
where hacking started the people there would learn and explore computer systems
all around the world. In the views of professional hacking is like drugs or any
other addictive substance, it’s an addiction for the mind and once started it’s
difficult to stop. This could be true, as hackers know what they are doing is
wrong and they know odds are they will be caught. But as I mentioned some
hackers are just above average criminals, using there skills to break in banks
and other places where they can get money, or where they can destroy
information. What a hacker does at a bank is take a few cents or even a few
fractions of a cents from many different accounts this may seem like nothing but
when all compiled can be alot. A stick up robber averages about $8,000 each
“job”, and he has to put his life and personal freedom on the line to
do it while the computer hacker in the comfort of his own living room averages
$500,000 a “job”. As for people destroying information, this is for
taking some one down, destruction of data could end a business which for some is
very attractive. It can cost a company thousands of dollars to restore the
damage done. Now that you have an understanding of what a “hacker” is,
it time to move on to someone closely associates with a hacker. This is a Phreak,
but what is that. For the answer we turn to the what is known as the
“Official” Phreakers Manual “Phreak [fr’eek] 1. The action of
using mischievous and mostly illegal ways in order to not pay for some sort of
telecommunications bill, order, transfer, or other service. It often involves
usage of highly illegal boxes and machines in order to defeat the security that
is set up to avoid this sort of happening. [fr’eaking] v. 2. A person who uses
the above methods of destruction and chaos in order to make a better life for
all. A true phreaker will not go against his fellows or narc on people who have
ragged on him or do anything termed to be dishonourable to phreaks. [fr’eek] n.

3. A certain code or dialup useful in the action of being a phreak. (Example:
“I hacked a new metro phreak last night.”)” The latter 2 ideas of
what a phreak is, is rather weird. A Phreak like the hacker likes to explore and
experiment, however his choice of exploring is not other computer but the phone
system as a whole. Phreaks explore the phone system finding many different ways
to do things, most often make free calls. Why do they do this, ” A hacker
and phreaker will have need to use telephone systems much more than an average
individual, therefore, methods which can be used to avoid toll charges are in
order. “. A phreak has two basic ways of making free calls, he can call up
codes or PBXs on his phone and then enter a code and make his call or he can use
Electronic Toll Fraud Devices. Codes are rather easy to get the phreak will scan
for them, but unlike a hacker will only save the tone(s) number instead of the
carrier(s). Then he will attempt to hack the code to use it, these codes range
from numbers 0 – 9 and can be any length, although most are not more than 10.

Electronic Toll Fraud Devices are known as Boxes in the underground. Most are
the size of a pack of smokes, or than can be smaller or bigger. I will not go
too deep. They are electronic devices than do various things, such as make
outgoing calls free, make incoming calls free, simulate coins dropping in a
phone, etc. People who “Phreak” are caught alot these days thanks to
the new technology. Software Piracy is the most common computer crime, it is the
illegal coping of software. “People wouldn’t think of shoplifting software
from a retail store, but don’t think twice about going home and making several
illegal copies of the same software.” and this is true because I myself am
guilty of this. The major problem is not people going out and buying the
software then making copies for everyone, it’s the Bulletin Boards that cater to
pirating software, that really cause the problem. On anyone one of these boards
one can find an upwards of 300 – 1000+ of pirated software open for anyone to
take. This is a problem and nothing can really be done about it. Few arrests are
made in this area of computer crime. I will now devote a brief section to the
above mentioned BBS’ , most are legal and do nothing wrong. However there are
many more that do accept pirated software, pornographic pictures, animations ,
and texts. As well as a trading area for phone codes, other BBS’, Credit Card
numbers, etc. This is where a majority of Hackers and Phreaks come, as well as
those who continue to pirate software come to meet and share stories. In this is
a new world, where you can do anything, there are groups that get, crack, and
courier software all over the world some of them are called: INC: International
Network Of Crackers, THG: The Humble Guys, TDT: The Dream Team. As well a number
of other groups have followed suit such as Phalcon/SKISM (Smart Kids Into Sick
Methods), NuKE, and YAM (Youngsters Against McAfee) these are virus groups who
write and courier their work anywhere they can, they just send it somewhere,
where anyone can take it and use it in any manner they wish, such as getting
even with someone. All of these activities are illegal but nothing can be done,
the people running these boards know what they are doing. As it stands right
now, the BBS world is in two parts Pirating and the Underground, which consists
of Hackers/Phreaks/Anarchists/Carders(Credit Card Fraud)/Virus programmers. All
have different boards and offer a variety of information on virtually any
subject. Well from all of this reading you just did you should have a fairly
good idea of what computer crime is. I didn’t mention it in the sections but the
police, phone companies are arresting and stopping alot of things every day.

With the new technology today it is easier to catch these criminals then it was
before. With the exception of the BBS’ the police have made some major blows
busting a few BBS’, arresting hackers and phreaks. All of which were very looked
up to for knowledge in their areas of specialty. If I had more time I could go
into these arrests but I must finish by saying that these are real crimes and
the sentences are getting harsher, with alot of the older people getting out the
newer people are getting arrested and being made examples of. This will deter
alot of would-be computer criminal away. The word virus can be very
disheartening, especially when computers are involved. A virus is composed of
instructions hidden inside a program. These instructions copy themselves to
other programs, and the cycle continues spreading. Fortunately, help is
available; antivirus software is available to anyone. “Viruses first
appeared in 1985. Then, they were largely created in university laboratories by
mostly wayward geniuses keen to pit their programming skills against each other.

Since then, errant programmers began to create newer and more destructive
viruses targeted at specific user groups.” (Yang, 1998) A computer virus
can be as “evil as it sounds, snaking its way into personal computers,
posing an occasional annoyance or a serious threat to all data.” (Miastkowski,
1998) Symptoms can range from unpleasant to fatal. Computer viruses spread from
program to program and computer to computer, “much as biological viruses
spread within individual…members of a society.” (Chess, 1997) Diskettes
were the “primary carriers of viruses in the 1980s.”
(“Computer,” 1997) Today, they are e-mail attachments, file transfers
and infected software downloads or uploads. Networks can even spread viruses to
large numbers of connected PCs rapidly. (Yang, 1998) No one working on a
[personal computer] is risk free; more viruses are being spread today than ever
before, but more help is being developed as well. Special software is now in
stores that will help to prevent any major disasters that viruses can cause. (Miastkowski,
1998) Antivirus software is a program that protects against viruses. It scans
all files on the hard disk, diskettes, CD ROM, and memory to locate viruses.

(“Computer,” 1997) The life cycle of a virus is rather complicated; it
begins when a user runs an infected program. The computer copies the program
from the disk into RAM, random access memory, where it can be performed. The
viral code begins to run, and the virus copies itself into a part of RAM that is
separate from the program. This allows the pesky virus to continue to spread
while another program is running, until it is finished and passes back into the
infected program. “When the user runs a different program, the dormant
virus begins to run again. It inserts a copy…into the…uninfected software so
that the cycle…can repeat.” (Chess, 1997) There are also other computer
pests such as “worms” that effect networks, but viruses are the most
common. (Yang, 1998) Years of research have allowed scientists to find ways to
detect and destroy viruses. (Chess, 1997) “Building on decades of research
by mathematical epidemiologists, [researchers] have obtained some understanding
of the factors that govern how quickly viruses spread.” (Yegulalp, 1997)
Many researchers feel that they owe much to “pattern-matching techniques
developed by computational biologists.” (Chess, 1997) This has helped them
to develop antivirus software from the defenses used by the human body to fight
off pathogens. According to an independent survey by the National Computer
Security Association, the infection rate for personal computers in North America
has more than tripled in the last year. (McDonald, 1997) “In the 1990s, the
virus problem has become an epidemic. New forms, including the shape-changing
polymorphic virus, elusive stealth strains, and the very common macro viruses
are making their appearance with alarming frequency.” (Yang, 1998) The
macro viruses are big problems; they infect very popular programs such as
Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. This type of virus can effect daily work
much easier than any other virus. (Miastkowski, 1998) “Almost any [antivirus]
package does a nice job of finding and eradicating most viruses, including macro
viruses. The key is to keep the products’ library of signatures–binary code
that helps identify viruses–current.” (Yegulalp, 1997) That is one area
where these packages differ most. Some of the major brands of antivirus software
include Norton AntiVirus 4.0, PC-cillin 3.0, Dr. Solomon’s Anti-Virus 7.0,
McAfee VirusScan 3.0, and IBM AntiVirus 3.0.1. (Miastkowski, 1998) “All the
programs share some common attributes; for starters…each program indeed hunts
down and eradicates the bugs introduced into a system.” (Cope, 1998) By
far, the best at detecting and destroying viruses is Norton AntiVirus 4.0; it
offers superior protection. This particular software uses a virus-detection
technology called “Bloodhound.” It “sniffs out viruses that may
have been mutated beyond their original forms.” (Yegulalp, 1997)
TouchStone’s PC-cillin 3.0 follows closely behind Norton AntiVirus 4.0; it
provides sufficient protection, and updates are available over the internet. (Miastkowski,
1998) “Each program scans or boot-sector and memory-resident viruses
automatically when [the user] turns on the computer.” They also include a
Windows 95 antivirus shield that blocks contamination from infected floppy disks
and warns the user when a tainted file is being run. “In addition, they let
users perform manual scans of any drive from within Windows 95, and also
check…files downloaded from the Internet.” (Cope, 1998) “Norton
AntiVirus 4.0 generously incorporates its Windows NT, DOS, Windows 3.x and
Windows 95 editions into one package. PC-cillin also runs under NT, although
TouchStone ships the NT edition as a separate product.” (Yegulalp, 1997)
Another advantage to the Norton AntiVirus software is the installation process;
it is not difficult, and several options are provided for the user. Norton
AntiVirus can load live protection and allow the user to create a rescue disk
set. The rescue disk set backs up the system, allowing the user to boot and
recover from a virus attack. (“Hackers,” 1997) The PC-cillin software
is very protective also. “Upon installation, PC-cillin immediately makes
sure its own files are clean, since an infected antivirus program is powerless
to prevent further infection.” (Yegulalp, 1997) This program also offers a
backup system and scan of the system before Windows 95 loads. (Yang, 1998) The
latest version of PC-cillin informs the user as it is scanning an internet
connection. It “offers much tighter functionality than before. Earlier PC-cillin
users will definitely want to upgrade.” (Yegulalp, 1997) On the surface, it
looks as if the odds are against personal computer users. Despite increased use
of antivirus software, viruses continue to spread at an unnerving rate.

(McDonald, 1997) Clearly, anti-virus software is one of the smartest buys a
computer owner can make. There are nearly 10,000 known computer viruses
threatening the world’s personal computers, “with effects ranging from
relatively harmless to ferociously destructive.” (Cope, 1998) These
troublemakers can spread to personal computers easily from an infected floppy
disk, as well as from files downloaded onto the hard drive from an e- mail
attachment and the Internet. (McDonald, 1997) Despite the great reviews of these
antivirus programs, many computer researchers maintain a sense of skepticism
towards complete protection. “Regardless of how sophisticated antivirus
technology may become, computer viruses will forever remain in an uneasy
coexistence with us and our computers.” (Chess, 1997) Unless there are
updates to virus scanners every few minutes, no one is completely safe from a
destructive virus. New viruses are popping up so fast that virus scanner vendors
cannot hope to keep up with them. Even with the best of tools and policies,
“bulletproof security is probably unattainable. High costs, changing
networks and software versions, incomplete security tools, and the growing pool
of ingenious and dedicated hackers prohibit this.” (“Hackers,”
1997) The numbers of people who can create new viruses have also increased.

(Yang, 1998) “[In June 1997], a group of hackers quickly cracked a
much-vaunted…code using relatively simple brute force techniques.”
(“Hackers,” 1997) This breach of security was only five weeks after
the data security invited the attack in the hope of proving its codes resistant
to such attacks. Over several years, people have been perfecting the care of
personal computers. However, over that same amount of time, others have been
hard at work to develop new ways to cause a system to “crash.” Some
problems with a personal computer cannot be stopped, but preventative action can
take place for viruses. Every computer user should be equipped with an antivirus
program; there is no way of predicting whether or not a simple file contains a
tremendous virus. The user must leave such a decision to the computer itself;
only it can detect and destroy the virus. By purchasing a simple antivirus
package, each computer user can hamper viruses from entering and destroying his
personal computer. After taking all of the costs into consideration, it is much
more expensive to rebuild a computer after destruction than it is to purchase an
effective antivirus software package.

Chess, David, Jeffrey Kephart, Gregory Sorkin, and Steve White.

“Fighting Computer Viruses: Biological Metaphors Offer Insight into Many
Aspects of Computer Viruses and Can Inspire Defenses Against Them.”
Scientific American Nov. 1997: 134-138. “Computer.” The World Book
Encyclopedia. 1997. Cope, Jim. “A Buyer’s Guide To Virus Protection: Get
the Lowdown on Six Win 95 Programs that Keep Digital Bugs from Invading your PC
and Destroying your Files.” NetGuide Mar. 1998: 143-146 “Hackers,
Terrorists, and Spies: You know they’re coming at you. Can you stop them?”
Software Magazine Oct. 1997: 76. McDonald, Glenn. “Viruses: An Anatomy of
Mass Hysteria.” PCWorld Sept. 1997: 123-125 Miastkowski, Stan. “Virus
Killers 1998: This Year, Macro Viruses are Running Rampant. Which Antivirus
Program is Your Best Defense?” PC World Mar. 1998: 114-116. Yang, W.D.

“Be Aware of Viruses and Use Protection.” Computer Times 18 February
1998: 85-89. Yegulalp, Serdar. “Head to Head: Antivirus Software Virus
Protection Superheroes.” Windows Magazin


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