Information Technology free: E-Crime Assignment
Also called cyber crime, e-crime is a type of organized crime that involves an attack on the computer, technological devices related to the computer and/or data contained in remote networks (Alhomoud et al., 2013). Cyber crime is a rapidly growing form of organized crimes and it is one of the most prevalent problems faced by the United Kingdom and the rest of the world today. The high rate of growth of cyber crime has been facilitated by the rapid development of the internet technology during the recent years. Over the last few decades, there are numerous channels for communication and interaction through the internet that have emerged (Holt, 2013). Among the channels that have emerged are email, social networking sites (such as FaceBook, Funspace, WhatsApp and Twitter), blogs and websites (Chu, Holt & Ahn, 2016). Although the emerging internet communication and interaction channels have been very useful in enhancing exchange of information and interaction in virtual settings, they have weaknesses and loopholes that are utilized by cyber attackers. The cyber attackers intercept information being exchanged by the users of those communication channels and steal it, or they use those communication channels to perpetrate cyber terrorism (Holt, 2013). Cyber attackers also target networks for organizations to steal information about the targeted firms, their customers, workers, managers and/or shareholders, among others.(Rushton, 2015). In some cases, cyber attackers have targeted government institutions. The cyber attackers, especially terrorists, use such information to blackmail governments or to learn how governments operate (Chu et al., 2016). Cyber attackers also target children through sex exploitation, which is called cyber terrorism.
As Alhomoud et al. (2013) explains, cyber crime has led to loss of billions of dollars from corporations, governments, and individuals. Also, cyber crime has led to loss of vital information from organizations and individuals, which is misused by the hackers. Cyber crime also leads to loss of reputation and customers by corporations that are victims. The hacked information, especially from government institutions, has been used by the culprits to plan for terrorist attacks (Choo & Smith 2008). Considering the potential adverse impact of the cyber crime, it is vital for individuals, corporations and governments to adopt approaches of preventing it. The government of the UK has established laws that are meant to fight against cyber crime (Rushton, 2015). However, the UK government has a limited ability to address the problem of cyber crime since it is a global problem, and even attackers from other nations target victims in the UK. As such, addressing the problem of cybercrime effectively will require concerted efforts of all governments, corporations and individuals across the globe. Given that cyber crime is becoming a global problem, it is vital to carry out comprehensive analysis of its development, nature and impacts, and determine the strategies that can help to significantly reduce its occurrence, which is the focus of this research
The Growth of E-Crime and the Current Status
Although the problem cyber crime has become very prevalent during the recent years, it is not a new form of organized crime. Cases of cyber crime have been recorded throughout the history of computers and the related devices. In 1973, for instance, a teller at Dime Savings Bank in New York, US, used a computer to embezzle money from that bank worth $2 million. In 1981, Ian Murphy accessed the computers of a financial institution called AT&T and changed its billing clock (Saini, Rao & Panda, 2012). In 1985, a hacking magazine that was meant to be used online was developed. In 1986, a virus called Pakistani Brain was developed and used to attack IDM computers. In 1988, Morris Worm was developed and used to attack more than 6,000 networked computers for universities and governments (Choo & Smith 2008). In 1996, cyber attackers hacked the websites of the US Air force, the CIA and the Department of justice. In 2004, North Korean cyber attackers hacked numerous computer systems in Japan, South Korea and other countries. In 2006, a Turkish cyber attacker hacked 21,549 computer systems in a sweep. Although the cases of cyber crime that occurred prior to 2006 were serious, its rate was significantly low relative to old forms of organized crimes such as burglary and murder (Kissel, 2010). The rate of the cyber crimes has been growing exponentially since the first case. Over the last one decade, the rate of e-crimes has grown to the extent that everybody who has used a computer and related devices has an experience of it or how it occurs (Chu et al., 2016).
As stated earlier, cyber crime has evolved over time leading to emergence of many different types of online crimes that are witnessed globally today. The first type is the attack on computers using software such as work, viruses and malware. This is the most common type of attack, which occurs in the cases internet users do not install the necessary software or use the required protocol to prevent attacks by such software. The second form of attack occurs in the cases where the attackers send phishing links to the targets through the internet sites or internet communication channels such as email, FaceBook and the rest (Wong, 2013). When the phishing links are clicked, they redirect to the information that is targeted by the hacker. The information is sent to the hacker. Phishing is also used as a way of tricking the targeted individuals to provide information voluntarily to the cyber attackers. The third type of cybercrime involves unauthorized physical access to confidential information stored in computers (Kissel, 2010). The fourth type of cyber crime involves an attack on a computer network, either in an online or offline server. In order to access the servers, for instance, the hackers impersonate the targeted servers, forge certificates for the servers or use software to intercept the servers (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). The fifth type of cyber crime is hacking online accounts, such as online bank accounts, email accounts and accounts opened on social networking sites (Jewkes, 2013). In some cases, the attackers use denial service attacks, which involve pulling networks down through filling them with information that is useless and damaging. Cyber terrorism is also another type of cyber crime that is usually targeted on children. For instance, pedophiles use the internet as a channel for preparing children for sex exploitation. They send messages and images about sex to children and use them as baits. Children that are eager to experience sex after seeing the messages and images can easily fall into the trap of sexual exploitation (Gillespie, 2015).
The different types of cyber crime described above have become too prevalent to the extent that they have raised global concern. Recent reports indicate that the UK has been the one of the major targets of the cyber crime. In fact, the UK is ranked first among the countries targeted by spear phishing attacks in the world. Also, the UK is ranked first among the European countries targeted by social media scams. Regarding ransomware attacks, the UK is ranked second after Germany in Europe (Guitton, 2013). Europol’s 2015 Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment indicated that the volume of cyber attacks is on an upward trend (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). The report indicated that the rising trend is triggered by the presence of emerging opportunities for engagement in cybercrime, which have been facilitated by the development of internet technology. European countries estimate that the volume of the cyber crimes is currently higher than the volume of the traditional forms of crime (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). This explains the reason why cyber crime is a major problem today.
Impacts of Cyber Crime
Cyber crime has a major negative impact on the economy and the victims’ financial statuses. A study conducted in the UK in 2012 indicated that approximately 9 million adults in the country had been victims of cyber crime. 2.3 percent of the victims stated that they had lost more that £10,000 each to online fraudsters (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). Surveys have also been conducted on the UK companies to determine the effects of cyber crime on their financial statuses. The results of the recent survey on UK companies released in 2014 showed that approximately 80 percent of the firms had been victims of cyber crime. In total, UK companies, government institutions and individuals lost almost £11 billion to online fraudsters in 2015 (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). A survey conducted in the US in 2011 indicated that around 74 million of the Americans had been victims of cyber crime. The survey also showed that during that year, the US lost approximately $34 billion to cyber crime. This indicates that cyber crime has a major impact on financial statuses of the victims and the economy. In some cases, cyber crime leads to the theft of intellectual property rights when the culprits use the information they hack for their own benefit. Cyber crime has a major negative impact on the reputation and image of the companies that are victims. The occurrence of cyber crime creates a notion among the members of the public that an organization does not adopt strong strategies to protect its data (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). More significantly, cyber crime makes the customers and other stakeholders lose trust of the affected organizations. This occurs mainly in the cases where the data for the customers and other stakeholders held by an organization is accessed by online fraudsters. A good example is the case in which bank accounts of 70 million customers of Wells Fargo were accessed and compromised by fraudsters (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). As stated earlier, cyber attackers can use information derived from computer systems of government agencies to plan for attacks. When they understand how law enforcement agencies operate from that data, they increase chances of succeeding in terror attacks. The terror attackers use sensitive information they derive from the computer systems of the government institutions to intimidate or blackmail governments (Wall & Mathew, 2013). Cyber terrorism causes emotional and psychological problems on the victims, such as anxiety, depression and stress. In this regard, cyber crime contributes to increase in security threats. The data gathered by the cyber attackers can also be used for the purpose of defamation. Cyber crime also contributes to child trafficking when it is targeted on sex exploitation of children (Wall & Mathew, 2013).
UK Laws and Regulations on Cyber Crime
The government of the UK has established numerous laws and regulations meant to curb the problem of cyber crime. The main law that is focused on the problem of computer crime is the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which was amended in 2015 by the Serious Crime Act. Article 4A of the Act states that a person found guilty of engaging in computer crime will be convicted irrespective of country within where the person perpetrated the crime (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). The Act stipulates that a person found guilty of accessing a computer without authorization by the owner or the designated person, and ends up doing acts of cyber crime, can be imprisoned for a maximum of 14 years. The issue of hacking is covered in section 1 of the Act. The issue of phishing is addressed by the Common Law of Conspiracy to Defraud and the Theft Acts 1968 and 1978 (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). A person found guilty of phishing can be imprisoned for a maximum period of 10 years. Violating privacy of the victims of cyber crime is an offence under the amended version of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s198. Cyber crime that involves money laundering is an offence under the Crime Act 2002, and the culprits can be imprisoned for a maximum period of 14 years (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). The National cybercrime Unit, which is a branch of the National Crime Agency, is the organization that deals with the issue of cyber crime in the UK. The National cybercrime Unit works with other partners to determine and respond to threats and cases of cyber crime. The Centre for Protection on National Infrastructure also contributes through providing guidance to organizations on how to reduce vulnerability to cyber crime. The The Office of Cyber Security & Information Assurance provides support to the government of the UK on how to address the problem of cyber crime. In short, there are significant efforts to fight cyber crime in the UK (Akhgar & Brewster, 2016). Despite this, the problem of cyber crime is still escalating. The main reason, as mentioned earlier, is because cyber crime is a global problem. A person in the US can hack computer systems in the UK. Also, cyber crime is difficult to detect in advance since they are usually perpetrated by people who are in hiding places (Wall & Mathew, 2013).
Combating cyber crime completely is difficult, but measures can be taken to reduce its occurrence and severity of its impacts. First, organizations should establish strategies and policies that are effective in reducing chances of occurrence of cyber attacks. For instance, employees dealing with computer systems of the organizations should be provided with adequate education and training on how to deal with it (Yee, 2011). Second, training on how to prevent cyber crime should be included in school curriculum. Doing so would ensure that all individuals have ability to protect themselves from the crime (Wall & Mathew, 2013). Third, governments should work together to combat cyber crime. One of the reasons why cyber crime is escalating is because of the lack of cooperation among governments of different countries to combat it (Dawson, 2015). Thus, the UK government should solicit other governments to work together in fighting against the crime. Last, the government of the UK should work together with the private sector, such as the internet providers, to investigate the perpetrators of cyber crime (Dawson, 2015).
Overall, cyber crime is a major security issue faced in the UK and other parts of the world today. Cases of cyber crime have been there for more than four decades. However, the volume of the cases has been increasing exponentially over time. As explained earlier, the increase has mainly been facilitated by the rapid development of the internet technology. Today, there are different types of cyber crimes, including attack on computers, attack on computer networks, attack on the users of the internet, and cyber terrorism. Cyber crime has adverse impacts on the economy and the financial statuses of the victims. Also, cyber crime has a negative impact on the reputation of organizations affected and the level of trust of the customers and other stakeholders. Cyber crime also causes emotional and psychological problems to the victims in some cases. The UK has numerous laws and regulations meant to combat cyber crime. Also, there are organizations in the UK that play the role of fighting against cyber crime. However, their efforts have not been effective since cyber crime is a global problem. Cyber crime can be addressed more effectively if all governments cooperate and work together with private sectors to combat it. Also, there is a need for efforts by individuals and organizations to prevent the crime.
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