Technology and Criminology

Technologies have become indispensable tools for many industries, companies and even households. Their ease of usage and the benefits they offer are what attracted people to continually improve them to better suit the needs of each industry and person. With the boom in Internet, the use of technologies became unparalleled. However, criminals have also used technologies to exploit information that they can get. Criminals utilize technologies to steal personal information, hack into confidential systems and personal home computers, and commit online scams.

As technology advances, so do the problems that come with such developments. Law enforcement agencies have responded by acknowledging that these problems could go out of hand if not resolved immediately. They have prioritized ways to solve these problems so that consumers can make the most of their online ventures without having to worry about high tech crimes. High Tech Crimes Sometimes it is funny to think that even criminals are utilizing technologies to execute their crime in a much easier way.

Criminals have made use of the Internet, cell phones, and other technologies to steal information from unsuspecting consumers and use the information for the criminals’ pleasure. Some of the high tech crimes are online scams, identity theft, and hacking. The Internet was primarily created to offer people the ease to access information and conduct business. To many people’s chagrin, the Internet has become a tool for some individuals’ enjoyment, even if it means stealing information and using it for unethical purposes. The Internet has been a common ground for many online scams.

In fact, there were many reported cases of online scams. In 2007 alone, the number of Americans who reported that they were victims of online scams was over 90,000. More than 70,000 of them were victims of financial loss, which accumulated to $239 million (Moulin, “Online Scams,” n. d. ). From recent researches, it was found out that the United States ranked first in worldwide online fraud crimes. Most of the victims were males between 40-49 years old. Most of the online scams make use of e-mails or websites to contact the victims. There are methods used in online scams.

These are phishing, pharming, and vishing. Pishing is the method of gathering information from people “under flase pretenses. ” Phishing in the form of e-mails are usually claiming from companies such as PayPal. These emails are sent with the objective of gathering personal information that the attacker might use against the victim. Once the victim provides information such as name, account numbers, passwords, address and so on, the attacker then gets the information and uses it to get access to accounts, purchase from online, sell the information to others, or steal the victim’s identity.

Pharming is a method that hackers use to direct web traffic from one legitimate website to a bogus one. Vishing makes use of social engineering and voice over IP telephone to get personal information through telephone (Moulin, “Online Scams,” n. d. ). Aside from the above mentioned methods, most of the online scams are in the form of selling sets, romance connections, and secret shopper employment. Additionally, these scams have to do with fraudulent checks. In some cases, those who sell products through the Internet are paid with a money order or check.

It pays to make sure that the money order or check is not fraudulent (Moulin, “Online Scams,” n. d. ). Hacking is another high-tech crime that is a very common activity in the Internet. It is defined as the unauthorized “breaking into a computer system or network” (Stone, 1999; Sabadash, 2004). In the United States and other countries, hacking is a felony (Sabadash, 2004). There were cases of individuals being charged for hacking. For instance, there were two teenagers who hacked the government and military computers.

They were sentenced with 3-year probation, no computer and modem use, 100 hours of community service and $4,100 for reparations (Crime and Violence Prevention Center, 2000). Although the two teenagers hacked just to prove that they could do it, hackers in today’s landscape are primarily after financial gain. They target companies and get their valued information (Hoffman, 2006). Computers that are connected to the Internet can be the targets of hackers. The prevalence of hacking activities has prodded the government and military agencies as well as businesses to implement measures to prevent being victimized by hackers.

This is because most of these agencies’ websites and computers contain sensitive information. The agencies make sure to encrypt their files before sending them over the Internet. Although encryption is one of the easiest ways to secure files, there are individuals who try to break the codes needed to read the encrypted files. There were programs created for this purpose, one of which is the Back Orfice. Hackers use this program to attack unknowing online users. Someone who uses the Back Orfice can break into someone else’s computer while he’s online.

When the hacker has access in other’s files, he can freely delete, change, or even plant computer viruses without the victim knowing it. The personal information stored in the computer’s hard drive is vulnerable. Computer users should instead opt to store their personal information on disks (Crime and Violence Prevention Center, 2000). Identity theft is also one of the high-tech crimes in the United States. It refers to crimes wherein the thief gets someone’s personal information and uses it for fraud or deception to acquire financial gain.

Personal information such as credit card number, bank account, Social Security number, and other valuable data can be used at the owner’s expense. There were many cases about victims of identity theft who reported that some unauthorized persons took hold of their personal information and used it to acquire funds from the bank accounts. In some serious cases, the thief pretended to be the owner of the credit card or bank accounts that they stole, committing crimes and gathering debts using the unknowing victim’s name.

This can have serious repercussions for the victims. They are not just robbed of their finances, but they also have to rebuild their tainted reputation and correct wrongful information that was the thief’s doing (United States Department of Justice, n. d. ). In 2005, there were more than eight million Americans who were identity theft victims (Synovate, 2007, p. 11). Moreover, almost 60% of victims experienced misuse of their existing credit card while the personal information of the 21. 9% of victims was used to commit frauds (Ibid, p. 13).

One of the cases reported before identity theft was pronounced as a federal crime involved the thief’s usage of a certain man’s credit card. This was not the only thing that the thief caused. Aside from running around $100,000 worth of credit card debts, the thief bought homes, handguns and motorcycles, and got a federal home loan using the victim’s name. The worst about it was that the thief has the courage to call the victim and taunt him. Additionally, the thief boasted that he could get away with it because identity theft was not yet declared a federal crime.

Afterwards, the thief filed for bankruptcy, again in the victim’s name. The victim and his wife had to spend their own money to restore their damaged reputation and credit (United States Department of Justice, n. d. ). Technologies to Fight Crime To fight these high tech crimes, law enforcement agencies have also resorted to new technologies. The first to have a High-Tech Crimes Unit was Southern Oregon’s Central Point Police Department in 2005. The police department owns an advanced, well-equipped digital evidence forensic laboratory.

It contains forensic workstations, laptop computers, workstation for PDAs and cell phones, and other high-tech hardware. There were also adequate forensic software available at all times to the forensic examiners. Additionally, the laboratory has its own network with a server, a tape backup solution which ensures the security of the laboratory’s valuable information and evidence, and a Storage Area Network (SAN). SAN contains forensically imaged evidences. This enables investigators to access evidence from any workstation. It also does not require multiple hard drives (Moulin, “Striking the Heart of Internet,” n.

d. ). Additionally, the laboratory has also its own independent Internet line that is solely for undercover Internet investigations. This ensures that online investigations are done without the suspects knowing that it is a law enforcement investigating them. Aside from a skilled forensic computer examiners, the police department conducted proactive investigations in the Internet to identify and arrest those who use the Internet for crimes. The police department’s Task Force has arrested criminals associated with high-tech crimes (Moulin, “Striking the Heart of Internet,” n. d. ).

Other technologies have also been introduced to fight the abovementioned high-tech crimes. Software that prevents phishing, viruses, hacking and other online scams is now available. Some security companies are also evaluating and planning to implement building tools for merchants and banks. Moreover, online businesses such as eBay have included in their website features to avoid being hacked into. For instance, the eBay included an Account Guard feature. This feature allows eBay to know when users or fraudulent sites are on sites run by eBay.

Aside from eBay, PostX Corp, EarthLink Inc, MailFrontier,Inc, and other websites have implemented measures to protect their websites and their customers from online scams. Some of these measures include plug-in tools and e-mail programs, toolbars that block fraudulent users, systems to authenticate emails, password imaging system, and spam-blocking software (Cosgrove-Mather, 2004). Despite the available technologies that police departments can use to fight crime, there are some gaps between the high-tech crimes and the training and equipment that law enforcement agencies used to fight crimes.

For one thing, there are not many records of high-tech crimes known to both the law enforcement and public. For instance, no bank would announce to the public that its private information was hacked. Another gap is that law enforcement agencies do not have adequate training needed for the investigation of high-tech crimes. Added to this is the fact that hackers and criminals do not leave traces for law enforcement agencies to identify them. Moreover, high-tech crimes are, in most cases, transnational and transfrontier. It means that a criminal in a state commits a crime against another state (Golubev, 2004).

It is just right that the court and law enforcement agencies have resorted to technology to fight high-tech crimes. As technologies advance at a very rapid rate, the use of them to fight crimes will be more appropriate and will yield more results compared to traditional methods. References Cosgrove-Mather, B. (2004). Web ‘phishing’ scams targeted. CBS News. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. cbsnews. com/stories/2004/05/19/tech/main618484. shtml Crime and Violence Prevention Center. (2000). Hi-tech crime.

Retrieved February 26, 2009, from http://safestate. org/documents/Hi-Tech_Crimes. pdf Golubev, V. (2004). Computer crime: Threats and forecasts. Computer Crime Research Center. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. crime-research. org/interviews/hackers/ Hoffman, D. V. (2006). Advanced hacking techniques: Implications for a mobile workforce. Fiberlink Communications, Corp. Retrieved February 26, 2009, from http://www. fiberlink. com/export/sites/default/fiberlink/en-US/_galleries/downloads/AdvancedHackMobile-CompanionGuide. pdf Moulin, J. (n. d. ). Online scams. Southern

Oregon, High-Tech Crimes Task Force. Retrieved February 24, 2009, from http://www.hightechcops. com/published/Online%20Scams. pdf Moulin, J. (n. d. ). Striking the heart of Internet victimization. Retrieved February 27, 2009, from http://www. hightechcops. com/published/StrikingAtTheHeart. pdf Synovate. (2007). Federal trade commission – 2006 identity theft survey report. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved February 26, 2009, from http://www. ftc. gov/os/2007/11/SynovateFinalReportIDTheft2006. pdf United States Department of Justice. (n. d. ). Identity theft and identity fraud. Retrieved February 26, 2009, from http://www. usdoj. gov/criminal/fraud/websites/idtheft. html