Computer Crime: A Increasing Problem


ABSTRACT

Computer crimes seem to be an increasing problem in today\'s society. The main
aspect concerning these offenses is information gained or lost. As our
government tries to take control of the information that travels through the
digital world, and across networks such as the InterNet, they also seem to be
taking away certain rights and privileges that come with these technological
advancements.

These services open a whole new doorway to communications as we know it. They
offer freedom of expression, and at the same time, freedom of privacy in the
highest possible form. Can the government reduce computer crimes, and still
allow people the right to freedom of expression and privacy?

INFORMATION CONTROL IN THE DIGITIZED WORLD

In the past decade, computer technology has expanded at an incredibly fast rate,
and the information stored on these computers has been increasing even faster.
The amount of money, military intelligence, and personal information stored on
computers has increased far beyond expectations. Governments, the military, and
the economy could not operate without the use of computers. Banks transfer
trillions of dollars every day over inter-linking networks, and more than one
billion pieces of electronic mail are passed through the world\'s networks daily.
It is the age of the computer network, the largest of which is known as the
InterNet. A complex web of communications inter-linking millions of computers
together -- and this number is at least doubling every year. The computer was
originally designed as a scientific and mathematical tool, to aid in performing
intense and precise calculations. However, from the large, sixty square foot
ENIAC (Electronical Numerical Integrator and Calculator) of 1946, to the three
square foot IBM PC of today, their uses have mutated and expanded far beyond
this boundary. Their almost infinite capacity and lightning speed, which is
increasing annually, and their low cost, which is decreasing annually, has
allowed computers to stabilize at a more personal level, yet retain their
position in mathematical and scientific research1 . They are now being used in
almost every aspect of life, as we know it, today. The greatest effect of
computers on life at this present time seems to be the InterNet. What we know
now as the InterNet began in 1969 as a network then named ArpaNet. ArpaNet,
under control by the pentagon\'s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was
first introduced as an answer to a problem concerning the government question of
how they would communicate during war. They needed a network with no central
authority, unlike those subsequent to this project. A main computer controlling
the network would definitely be an immediate target for enemies. The first test
node of ArpaNet was installed at UCLA in the Fall of 1969. By December of the
same year, three more nodes were added, and within two years, there was a total
of fifteen nodes within the system. However, by this time, something seemed to
be changing concerning the information traveling across the nodes. By 1971,
government employees began to obtain their own personal mail addresses, and the
main traffic over the net shifted from scientific information to personal mail
and gossip. Mailing lists were used to send mass quantities of mail to hundreds
of people, and the first newsgroup was created for discussing views and opinions
in the science fiction world. The networks decentralized structure made the
addition of more machines, and the use of different types of machines very
simple. As computer technology increased, interest in ArpaNet seemed only to
expand.

In 1977, a new method of transmission was put into effect, called TCP/IP. The
transmission control protocol (TCP) would convert messages into smaller packets
of information at their source, then reassemble them at their destination, while
the InterNet protocol (IP) would control the addressing of these packets to
assure their transmission to their correct destinations. This newer method of
transmission was much more efficient then the previous network control protocol
(NCP), and became very popular. Corporations such as IBM and DEC began to
develop TCP/IP software for numerous different platforms, and the demand for
such software grew rapidly. This availability of software allowed more
corporations and businesses to join the network very easily, and by 1985,
ArpaNet was only a tiny portion of the newly created InterNet. Other smaller
networks are also very widely used today, such as FidoNet. These networks serve
the same purpose as the InterNet, but are on a much smaller scale, as they have
less efficient means of transferring message packets. They are more localized,
in the sense that the information travels much more slowly when further
distances are involved. However, the ease of access to these networks and
various