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13 September 2009

Cybercrime Overview


Abuse and misuse of computer systems has existed nearly since mainframe computers were first invented during the 1940s and 1950s as a means to improve military munitions and then rocket guidance systems. As computers became more necessary for research and communications within academic institutions, military organizations, and financial institutions, pranks and pranksters inevitably came onto the scene. Originally these pranksters were mainly university students who possessed tremendous curiosity about computers and the ways in which they could be used to solve problems.

Eventually, during the 1960s, with the invention of ARPANET and then the Internet, and as computers located in colleges and universities throughout the United States interconnected with those located in government agencies and businesses, pranks and the abusive use of computers and computer networks became more common and harmful.

By the mid-1970s researchers began studying ‘‘computer abuse’’ because in those days harmful activities committed with computers were not prohibited by computer crime laws.

By the 1980s all this began to change. With more and more computers interconnected via the Internet, more abuses of computer systems drove state governments and the federal government to begin passing computer crime laws. Initially these laws focused on the growing phenomenon of computer hacking, but were soon expanded into other types of criminal behaviors. In effect, computerization made possible by inventions and innovations in computing and telecommunications technologies also made possible, if not inevitable, the concept of ‘‘computer crime.’’ This concept, however, became outdated as computer technologies became smaller, more powerful, more affordable, and capable of performing many tasks including uploading and downloading data files on the Internet.

With the emergence of the World Wide Web in 1993, along with a myriad of software applications, online content, and the beginning of high-speed/broadband Internet connections, computer crime evolved into computer-related crime and then what we know today as cybercrime. Today computer networks are more accurately referred to as information systems.
The largest information system in the world is the Internet, although there are many regions and parts to this giant network. Organizations often create and manage their own information systems and connect these to other systems and the Internet. Cybercrimes include illicit uses of information systems, computers, or other types of information technology (IT) devices such as personal digital assistants (PDAs) and cell phones. There are many forms of cybercrime that go well beyond hacking into computer systems, although that remains a problem. Modern societies must also confront identity theft, online fraud, phishing, spamming, malware, and many types of attacks launched against information systems such as denial of service attacks and those involving bot nets.

If you wish to remain safe online, you must educate yourself about cybercrime and ways to prevent it. Finally, you must also chose to use information systems, computers, and other types of IT devices responsibly. Doing so is your duty as a citizen of our increasingly interconnected world. This encyclopedia can help. Enjoy these entries and use this reference work to your advantage.


Important Books on Cybercrime-Related Subjects
  • Computer and Intellectual Property Section–Criminal Division. (2002). Searching and seizing computers and obtaining electronic evidence in criminal investigations.Washington DC: U.S. Department of Justice.
  • Cuéllar, M., et al. (2001). The transnational dimension of cyber crime and terrorism. Abraham D. Sofaer and Seymour E. Goodman (Eds). Palo Alto, CA: Leland Stanford Junior University, Hoover Institution Press.
  • Girasa, R. J. (2002). Cyberlaw: National and international perspectives. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Goetz, E., & Shenoi, S. (Eds.). (2007). Critical infrastructure protection (IFIP International Federation for Information Processing). New York: Springer.
  • Himanen, P. (2001). The hacker ethic and the spirit of the information age. New York: Random House, Inc.
  • Hugh, S.A. (2006). Computer and intellectual property crime: Federal and state law. Arlington, VA: BNA Books.
  • Levy, S. (1984). Hackers: Heroes of the computer revolution. New York: Doubleday.
  • Lewis, T.G. (2006). Critical infrastructure protection in homeland security: Defending a networked nation. New York: Wiley-Interscience.
  • McCue, C. (2007). Data mining and predictive analysis: Intelligence gathering and crime analysis. Boston, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • McQuade, S. (2006) Understanding and managing cybercrime. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
  • National Academy of Engineering. (1985). Information technologies and social ransformation.Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • National Research Council. (1991). Computers at risk: Safe computing in the information age. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
  • Popp, R.L., & Yen, J. (Eds.). (2006). Emergent information technologies and enabling policies for counter-terrorism. IEEE Press Series on Computational Intelligence. New York: Wiley-IEEE Press.
  • Prosise, C. (2001). Incident response: Investigating computer crime. New York: McGraw-Hill Companies.
  • Raymond, E.S. (1996). The new hacker’s dictionary. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Richards, J.R. (1998). Transnational criminal organizations, cybercrime, and money
    laundering: A handbook for law enforcement officers, auditors, and financial investigators.
    Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.
  • Schneier, B. (2000). Secrets and lies: Digital security in a networked world. New York:
    Wiley Computer Publishing.
  • Segaller, S. (1999). Nerds 2.0.1: A brief history of the Internet. New York: TV Books,
  • Splichal, S., et al. (1994). Information society and civil society: Contemporary perspectives
    on the changing world order. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press.
  • Sullivant, J. (2007). Strategies for protecting national critical infrastructure Assets: A focus
    on problem-solving. New York: Wiley-Interscience.
  • Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing up digital: The rise of the net generation. New York:
  • Toren, P. (2003). Intellectual property and computer crimes. Intellectual Property Law
    and Business Crimes Series. New York: Law Journal Press.


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