As the use AIS becomes more widespread, they also become prone to computer crimes. Computer crimes involve using an information technology system to commit an illegal activity. The computer serves an important role in the commission of the crime. Computer crimes ranges from use of computer to commit other crimes such as fraud and embezzlement to commission of crimes that are purely computer related. Accounting information systems hold sensitive and confidential company information that should be safeguarded.
This information if in the wrong hands, would be used to harm the organization. People attack these systems for financial gain or just malice. There are various forms of computer crimes. There are physical computer crimes that target AIS computer equipment. Criminals may steal equipment for resale, for own sue or just vandalize it. When this equipment is stolen or damaged, AIS breaks down and the causes of the organization huge financial loss. It halts certain crucial services and operations in the organization.
Physical computer crimes can also involve theft or destruction of disks and tapes. Another form of computer crime is unauthorized access to financial data. This involves an individual gaining access to highly confidential company’s financial data without necessary authority. Organizations hold information on future plans especially on products development. If the competition gets that information, it will have an upper hand over the company in the market. A computer thief may just copy the data and leave the system intact.
The criminal can also make unauthorized manipulations on the data. He can alter some of the financial information so that it does not reflect the true and fair view of the financial status of the organization. This leads to misleading financial statements that may cause the organization financial loss. A computer criminal may create ‘ghost workers’ files and draw their wages regularly from the company. A computer criminal may also delete crucial data sabotaging the company. Loss of financial data can be expensive and irreversible and may make the organization to fold up.
Another form of illegal data access and manipulation is superzabbing. This involves a person with authority to access and manipulate data going beyond his mandate and manipulating other files for financial gain. The criminal exploits the information legally handed to him to commit unauthorized activities. A computer criminal may also impersonate employees of an organization to gain access to financial information. They learn employees’ passwords and P. I. N. and are able to access information meant for internal purposes only. Professional computer criminals may also attack AIS software.
They can introduce viruses to the system that leads the system to crash or data loss. These viruses may take up a lot of resources and time to clean up. Another form of software attack is use of Trojan Horses. Trojan Horses are concealed instructions to carry out on illegal task sneaked in with a program carrying out an authorized function. These instructions are usually used to carry out fraudulent activities. An outsider may gain access to organization confidential files with the use of Trojan Horse. (Bagranoff, N. , et al, 2005: 76)