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Cyber crime refers to outlawed use of the network and a computer with an aim to commit a crime be it to copyright, hack or conduct cyber warfare. These crimes cannot go unpunished. There are several laws that have been put in place to curb this though deterrent measures have not been very successful. In 1820, the first case was recorded in Joseph-Marie Jacquard's textile factory, whose machine was considered as the earliest form of a computer. His workers committed sabotage to discourage him from implementing further changes in technology since they feared losing their jobs. Various countries have effected various legislation against cyber crime and the installation of malware on unsuspecting network users. In this essay, I will discuss various cyber crimes, legislations put in place to curb these and then propose various ways of punishing cyber criminals.
The first crime I am going to discuss is computer fraud. This entails use of the internet to misinterpret facts by changing the content with an aim of causing loss. The objective of fraud may or may not be beneficial to the perpetrator. This may include altering, misusing, suppressing or stealing information related to input of data, concealment of transactions, change of stored data, application programs or operating software, change of a person's identity, bank fraud and altering classified data. This crime is punishable by a jail-term varying according to a particular country and gravity of crime committed. The perpetrators of these crimes should be heavily fined in addition to a considerable jail term. Where the criminals are not able to pay for liability damages, countries should amend their laws to incorporate a clause allowing confiscation of personal property.
Harassment entails use of threats, spread of slander and libel, obscenities and displaying obscene content about a person. This might be based on gender, religion, country of origin or race. In popular social sites and chat rooms, these crimes have become very prevalent. Cyber stalking entails spreading false statements and encouraging others to do so, monitoring and threatening in order to solicit minors for sex commonly known as online predator, or gather information in order to cause distress to another party. Hate crime occurs when one is prejudiced over another's race, gender or religion and holds certain stereotypes against them which one chooses to spread over the internet. Combating this crime has been challenged by federal law which limits the ability of law agencies to track down the stalkers. The U.S Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 provides anonymity to persons who use cable companies to acquire their Internet Service Providers (ISPs).Proper laws which are easy to implement should be put in place. Once a user is suspected, data about him should be collected to ensure sufficient evidence in law courts against them and when making liability claims. Their ISP addresses should be disconnected and data about the perpetrator floated in the net to warn all companies about this.
Selling or advertising of any drugs otherwise prohibited by the mother country constitutes a crime, that is, drug trafficking. Drug traffickers are continuously hacking into medical and pharmaceutical companies order sites in order to swap the invoices. This constitutes a crime and the perpetrator should be treated like the usual drug traffickers, who in addition to serving jail terms should have their illegal trade and assets resulting from these trade assumed by the state. This will act as a deterrent.
Another common place crime is Cyber terrorism. This is use of the internet to intentionally disrupt networks by use of malware such as viruses, adware and spyware. Viruses are programs which can copy and infect other computers unlike spyware and adware which merely infect. Infecting network file system by use of these programs like Trojan horses that deter the proper functionality of your system files and worms that undermine the security system installed constitutes serious crime. Various governments and media have been worried by the potential damages like the potential damages of large-scale cyber terrorism. Estonia has fallen victim to these crime where government and airport sites were bombarded with data in order to force them offline. On 24 January 2008, and after deep investigations, a student named Dmitri Galushkevich was found guilty of instigating the attacks and was fined 17,500 kroons which is approximately US$1,640 for attacking the website of the prime minister's Estonian Reform Party. This might be a sure way of curbing rising cyber terrorists cases.
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Computer trespass entails any malicious copying, modifying, or erasing data from a computer in order to cause a computer to malfunction or cause Electronic funds transfer. The Virginia General Assembly effected laws in 2005 to clearly define this crime through House Bill 2215. It illegitimates unauthorized installation and running software. Provisions are made for offenders if damage is caused of $1,000 or more, or if software is installed in violation of this law on more than five computers of another.
Cyber warfare can be defined as actions by a nation-state to access another country's computers or networks in order to cause damage or disruption. In 2006, Israel claims that cyber warfare was used by its Middle East enemies. These hackers were reportedly Russian. The Israel Defense Force has chosen to invest in cyber-tactics that could worsen the already bloody war between Israel and its neighbors. The U.S. Department of Defense has noted several cases of cyber warfare of high implications. Estonian attack allegedly by Russian hackers in 2007 illustrated the need for continuous surveillance. In 1982, a computer code inclusive of a logic bomb was stolen by Soviet spies in Canada. These caused a Russian gas pipeline to explode due to a change in gas speed. In 2008, Russia came under sharp critism for conducting well planned and synchronized kinetic and non-kinetic campaign against the state of Georgia. There has been widespread fear that cyber wars might erupt between nations. It is in line with the need to avert these that the Americans led by General Keith B. Alexander are in talks with Russia. An agreement between the two would limit the amount of military attacks over the internet. Rogue nations that insist on carrying out such attacks should face sanctions and charged in international courts. This though would be difficult to implement on powerful nations like Russia.
Spam is the outlawed sending of bulk unsolicited email for commercial purposes. Specific anti-spam laws are quite new. The U.S has an anti-spam act of 2003 which clearly defines spam and the penalties for such under Section 622. Section 624 goes further on to define that one may face a fine or imprisonment for not more than two years. This has not served to sufficiently deter perpetrators on the internet who send spam in bulk to electronic mail accounts. If an offender is found guilty; he should be fined and imprisoned at the same time. This will lower spam sent to others.
These crimes are very serious and should not be treated lightly. I strongly feel that strong enforcement of cyber rules whereby countries should come together and draft uniform international rules and establish a common international body is the way to combat these cyber crimes. Rogue nations, however powerful and cyber criminals should be charged by this body. This will go a long way in stopping cyber warfare and terrorism whereas ensuring our data is secure over the internet. (E.Quarantiello, 1996)
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