• 18 янв. 2011 г.
  • 1815 Слова
Computer crimes

More and more the operations of our businesses, governments, and financial institutions are controlled by information that exists only inside computer memories. Anyone clever enough to modify this information for his own purposes can reap substantial rewards. Even worse, a number of people who have done this and been caught at it have managed to get away without punishment.These facts have not been lost on criminals or would-be criminals. A recent Stanford Research Institute study of computer abuse was based on 160 case histories, which probably are just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. After all, we only know about the unsuccessful crimes. How many successful ones have gone undetected is anybody's guess.
Here are a few areas in which computer criminalshave found the pickings all too easy.
Banking. All but the smallest banks now keep their accounts on computer files. Someone who knows how to change the numbers in the files can transfer funds at will. For instance, one programmer was caught having the computer transfer funds from other people's accounts to his wife's checking account. Often, traditionally trained auditors don't know enough aboutthe workings of computers to catch what is taking place right under their noses.
Business. A company that uses computers extensively offers many opportunities to both dishonest employees and clever outsiders. For instance, a thief can have the computer ship the company's products to addresses of his own choosing. Or he can have it issue checks to him or his confederates for imaginary suppliesor services. People have been caught doing both.
Credit Cards. There is a trend towards using cards similar to credit cards to gain access to funds through cash-dispensing terminals. Yet, in the past, organized crime has used stolen or counterfeit credit cards to finance its operations. Banks that offer after-hours or remote banking through cash-dispensing terminals may find themselvesunwillingly subsidizing organized crime.
Theft of Information. Much personal information about individuals is now stored in computer files. An unauthorized person with access to this information could use it for blackmail. Also, confidential information about a company's products or operations can be stolen and sold to unscrupulous competitors. (One attempt at the latter came to light when thecompetitor turned out to be scrupulous and turned in the people who were trying to sell him stolen information.)
Software Theft. The software for a computer system is often more expensive than the hardware. Yet this expensive software is all too easy to copy. Crooked computer experts have devised a variety of tricks for getting these expensive programs: printed out, punched on cards, recorded ontape or otherwise delivered into their hands. This crime has even been perpetrated from remote terminals that access the computer over the telephone.
Theft of Time-Sharing Services. When the public is given access to a system, some members of the public often discover how to use the system in unauthorized ways. For example, there are the "phone freakers" who avoid long distance telephone chargesby sending over their phones control signals that are identical to those used by the telephone company.
Since time-sharing systems often are accessible to anyone who dials the right telephone number, they are subject to the same kinds of manipulation.
Of course, most systems use account numbers and passwords to restrict access to unauthorized users. But unauthorized persons have proved tobe adept at obtaining this information and using it for their own benefit. For instance, when a police computer system was demonstrated to a school class, a precocious student noted the access codes being used; later, all the student's teachers turned up on a list of wanted criminals.
Perfect Crimes. It's easy for computer crimes to go undetected if no one checks up on what the computer is...
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