Computer crime: hacking

Nowadays, the one place that people thought they were secure could be one of the most dangerous areas in society. Computer use is increasingly spreading, and more and more users are connecting to the Internet. The Internet is a source for almost anybody to access, manipulate and destroy others’ information. These “criminal activities directly related to the use of computers, specifically illegal trespass into the computer system or database of another, manipulation or theft of stored on-line data, or sabotage of equipment and data” are defined as computer crimes according to the American heritage dictionary (2000). Computer crime is becoming more of an issue every year. In the past, the criminals were pirates, murderers, and thieves. Today these criminals are still the same, and there is a new “modern” criminal. This criminal is commonly known as the hacker. Hacking is a word that many people in the world have heard of. Hacking can mean many different things. Gaining illegal entrance to computer systems and networks is one way to describe hacking but hacking does not always mean breaking into computers. There are different definitions: Hacking can be just to find out how it works without criminal intent. Hacking can be simply to crack a code; a hacker can be breaking into a computer that’s yours, often not wanted, and now prohibited by law. These hackers often say they are doing nothing wrong as long as they do not do any damage. Hacking can also mean a person who works with computers, creating new ideas and applications to “better the computer industry.” Originally, hacking had nothing to do with breaking into one another’s computers. It was primarily tinkering away with hardware to make things work. And these strains of hackers are still out there in multitude!

There are several ways to categorize hackers. Most experts place hackers in one of three broad categories. The pirates are the most common; the amateurs who usually don’t do anything but try to gain access. Browsers are more skillful and may try to gain something for their work. A hacker who vandalizes Web pages, steals credit card numbers, and obtains harmful information is also called a cracker. Crackers are the smallest and most dangerous group of hackers. They are the ones who do damage to systems and rarely get caught, as they are very cautious at what they do. Hackers come from many varieties, old, young, rich and poor.Hackers attack networks for many reasons. These reasons include:

To see if they can gain accessTo become famousObtaining money, information or jobsTerrorismPolitical motivesHacking has become easy with the many tools and instructions available for beginners on the web. One common way of getting almost anything out of a computer is by utilizing a virus. By accessing the network a hacker can easily put a virus in the source code of big-name programs like Windows and Office, which will damage computers that run or use this software. One of the types of viruses are Trojan horses, which are hidden instructions embedded in software or email that, once opened, may modify, damage or send important data. Other ways that hackers hack are by using program bugs. Examining the original program’s instructions can let vandal find vulnerabilities in programs not known to other people and use them to his benefit. Furthermore, many hackers utilize vulnerabilities involving computer use. One of these methods is called data diddling. This is when a hacker modifies certain programs to send certain information such as passwords and names back to him when other people use these programs. Many hackers also gain access to systems by guessing passwords. Users often have simple passwords that someone could guess by knowing a few things about the person. A hacker may even simply pose as a member of a department to gain access to certain data.

Computer crime can cause many damaging results. For one, computer crime can cause damage involving data. Once inside, a hacker can steal desired items such as credit-card number and passwords. He can also manipulate and destroy crucial data such as bank accounts, legal files or personal information. In addition, hackers can take control of various services, including one time when hackers figured out how to control the phone service nationwide in order to win prizes on phone-related games. Computer crime can also cause business failure. Hacking has caused government sites to temporarily and permanently shutdown, giving users and employees denial-of-service errors when trying to access them. Hacks resulting in losing credit-card numbers or social security numbers can result in costly lawsuits, threatening bankruptcy for the company. Moreover, after websites are hacked, businesses often lose their credibility, and consumers look elsewhere for the services.

Information technology security has come a long way since the first days of hacking. People want their privacy to remain intact and their secrets protected. When the public realized that they were becoming vulnerable to hackers, they started becoming more security minded. Companies and governments protect their information from criminals with many different methods. Computer crime is far too costly to just ignore and it is get more costly every year. There are many small things that can be done to enhance the security of a network. Firewalls and password protection are the most common. In the place of passwords, more advanced palm readers or retina scanners may be used. In addition to having users prevent problems, companies have many ways to improve their security systems. Companies need to reevaluate their security systems and respond accordingly. A business should regularly assess its vulnerabilities and respond accordingly with buying firewalls, installing software or upgrading security. Moreover, companies can undertake various actions to improve their security systems. A company should perform regular audits and supervise their employees well. Employers should always check the IT background of prospective employees. Educating users on computer security is a great boost to maintaining network security. Many businesses are also hiring good-guy hackers to prevent bad-guy hackers from breaching and to test their systems. Reducing networking is another simple solution to improving a company’s security system. Other improvements need to be made by the government to detect criminals better. For one, the government needs to upgrade their systems. Moreover, many actions are already being taken and need to be taken to punish the hackers. Many new laws are both needed and have been implemented to punish computer criminals. Cyber-criminal laws need to be more severe towards lawbreakers and should establish rules of conduct to clearly define what is illegal. However, good security systems are expensive, and none is foolproof. Yet having an excellent security system can also be negative, because hackers see the security as a challenge and attack it.

Hacking or Cracking is merely a human trait that is triggered and inherent to our being: our unbridled curiosity. Hide something and you’re bound to find someone that wants to find out. Make some complicated machinery or other gadget and someone will find a way to reverse engineer it. Nothing malicious to that but it is the use you make of your gained knowledge that makes it sometimes illegal. Even though computer crime is a big problem, much can and has been done to help fight it. If these solutions are undertaken, the world of computer usage will no longer be a dark, dangerous alley for criminals to tamper with and will become a haven for anyone who wants to come.

REFERENCESchindler, D. J., & Halpern, T. H. (2000, March 27). www.computer.crime: E-crime and what to do about it. Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved October 30, 2006, from LookSmart database.