In today’s hi-tech world of computers, the Internet, online banking and the likes, the criminal fraternity have turned their attentions to other ways of blackmailing and theft.
Types of Computer Crime
Since the Internet’s surge into the mainstream and into our daily lives criminals have been finding new and more ingenious ways of attacking our computers both in the work place and at home thus making us vulnerable to computer crime.
The number of reported cases of credit card fraud and bank fraud has increased dramatically over the last few years and this is in no small part due to the fact that criminals have embraced the World Wide Web and transformed it into another area of criminality.
Indeed it is not just fraud and theft of money that is a problem. Identity theft has also spiralled to epic proportions. Many people have reported receiving credit card bills with items billed that they have not bought, airline flights for journeys never taken and subscriptions to Internet websites that they would not normally visit.
In addition to this the adult entertainment industry has also embraced this new technology and is now broadcasting its wares over the World Wide Web for people of all ages to gain access to. It is important to note that in the United Kingdom it is illegal to view or distribute pornography via the Internet even though many people do so daily. This is also why many of the pornography websites visible on the Internet are hosted from countries outside the Americas and the European Union.
Combating Computer Crime
With this upsurge in computer crime police forces all across the globe have had to change their strategies and embrace the fact that the criminal who would once hold you at gunpoint for your money can now take your money and your identify from a remote location sometimes many thousands of miles away without you ever knowing.
Forensic I.T Laboratories have been set up in all the major police forces to combat this problem and also many of them work closely with Obscene Publications Squads to combat pornography, child abuse and other crimes against minors that are committed over the Internet.
It is interesting to note that a computer’s hard drive can be reconstituted long after it has been deleted and many of these forensic laboratories are in a position to do this at any time.
A computer hard drive simply stores information as a series of binary combinations (binary = zeros and ones) and when this information is deleted it is simply freed up so that other information can be written over the top of it. This is in itself something that computer criminals exploit because when you think you have deleted email containing important information what you are actually doing is writing over the top of it.
These ‘hackers’ can reconstitute this information using various algorithmic combinations and extract account information, usernames and passwords from it.
This is why it is important that all computers – be they in the work place or at home – are fully installed with the latest anti-virus software and firewall technology to reduce the risk of such an attack taking place.
Indeed many forensic laboratories are working in conjunction with the makers of anti-virus and firewall software to ensure they are fully up to date and the risks of attacks on your computer are limited.