In the world of computers, computer fraud and computer crime are very prevalent issues facing every computer user. This ranges from system administrators to personal computer users who do work in the office or at home. Computers without any means of security are vulnerable to attacks from viruses, worms, and illegal computer hackers. If the proper steps are not taken, safe computing may become a thing of the past. Many security measures are being implemented to protect against illegalities. Companies are becoming more aware and threatened by the fact that their computers are prone to attack.
Virus scanners are becoming necessities on all machines. Installing and monitoring these virus scanners takes many man hours and a lot of money for site licenses. Many server programs are coming equipped with a program called “netlog. ” This is a program that monitors the computer use of the employees in a company on the network. The program monitors memory and file usage. A qualified system administrator should be able to tell by the amounts of memory being used and the file usage if something is going on that should not be.
If a virus is found, system administrators can pinpoint the user ho put the virus into the network and investigate whether or not there was any malice intended. One computer application that is becoming more widely used and, therefore, more widely abused, is the use of electronic mail or email. In the present day, illegal hackers can read email going through a server fairly easily. Email consists of not only personal transactions, but business and financial transactions. There are not many encryption procedures out for email yet.
As Gates describes, soon email encryption will become a regular addition to email just as a hard disk drive has become a regular addition to a computer (Gates p. 97-98). Encrypting email can be done with two prime numbers used as keys. The public key will be listed on the Internet or in an email message. The second key will be private, which only the user will have. The sender will encrypt the message with the public key, send it to the recipient, who will then decipher it again with his or her private key. This method is not foolproof, but it is not easy to unlock either.
The numbers being used will probably be over 60 digits in length (Gates p. 98-99). The Internet also poses more problems to users. This problem faces the home user more than the business user. When a person logs onto the Internet, he or he may download a file corrupted with a virus. When he or she executes that program, the virus is released into the system. When a person uses the World Wide Web(WWW), he or she is downloading files into his or her Internet browser without even knowing it. Whenever a web page is visited, an image of that page is downloaded and stored in the cache of the browser.
This image is used for faster retrieval of that specific web page. Instead of having to constantly download a page, the browser automatically reverts to the cache to open the image of that page. Most people do not know about this, but this is an example f how to get a virus in a machine without even knowing it. Every time a person accesses the Internet, he or she is not only accessing the host computer, but the many computers that connect the host and the user. When a person transmits credit card information, it goes over many computers before it reaches its destination.
An illegal hacker can set up one of the connecting computers to copy the credit card information as it passes through the computer. This is how credit card fraud is committed with the help of the Internet. What companies such as Maxis and Sierra are doing are making secure sites. These ites have the capabilities to receive credit card information securely. This means the consumer can purchase goods by credit card over the Internet without worrying that the credit card number will be seen by unauthorized people.
System administrators have three major weapons against computer crime. The first defense against computer crime is system security. This is the many layers systems have against attacks. When data comes into a system, it is scanned for viruses and safety. Whenever it passes one of these security layers, it is scanned again. The second resistance against viruses and corruption is computer law. This defines what is illegal in the computer world. In the early 1980’s, prosecutors had problems trying suspect in computer crimes because there was no definition of illegal activity.
The third defense is the teaching of computer ethics. This will hopefully defer people from becoming illegal hackers in the first place (Bitter p. 433). There are other ways companies can protect against computer fraud than in the computer and system itself. One way to curtail computer fraud is in the interview process and training procedures. If it is made clear to the new employee that honesty is valued in the company, the mployee might think twice about committing a crime against the company.
Background checks and fingerprinting are also good ways to protect against computer fraud. Computer crime prevention has become a major issue in the computer world. The lack of knowledge of these crimes and how they are committed is a factor as to why computer crime is so prevalent. What must be realized is that the “weakest link in any system is the human” (Hafner and Markoff p. 61). With the knowledge and application of the preventative methods discussed, computer crime may actually become an issue of the past.