There are no precise, reliable statistics on the amount of computer crime and the economic loss to victims, partly because many of these crimes are apparently not detected by victims, many of these crimes are never reported to authorities, and partly because the losses are often difficult to calculate. Internet fraud takes many forms. The Internet's promise of substantial consumer benefits is coupled with the potential for fraud and deception. Fraud operators are opportunists who are among the first to appreciate the potential of a new technology. There is nothing new about Internet fraud, however, the size and potential market, relative ease, low cost, and speed with which a scam can be perpetrated has increased tremendously. Nevertheless, in this section we have posted some Tips for Avoiding Computer Crime, which includes suggestions for increasing the security and reliability of personal computers, as well as protection against cyber crime.
Causes of Computer Crime
- Sharing Identification numbers and passwords
- Unauthorised access from remote location (hacking)
- Unauthorised access by non-authorised employee
- Security system by-passed
- Poor physical security
- Poor system security
- Abuse of legitimate access
- Viruses etc or other willful damage by disgruntled employee or competitor
- Appropriate computer security changes not done when employees with access leave or are transferred.
- Data files and listings not held under proper security
Recommended Prevention Measures
- Develop and Implement appropriate system failure procedures
- Shred computer listings after use
- Do not share Identification numbers and passwords
- Change passwords regularly
- Regularly monitor usage of dial-up facilities.
- Implement a system of controlling employees with access to data.
- Physical security of equipment and diskettes.
Hacking, computerized fraud and other computer crimes
A "hacker" is a dedicated programming expert who believes in sharing his expertise and experiences with other hackers. A hacker does not believe in vandalizing or maliciously destroying data, or in stealing data of any kind. He may find your credit card number stored there from buying online, or use the information gleaned from your computer to use your ISP account for illegal activity, like distributing child pornography
How can I stop hackers from gaining access to my computer?
- Only download or accept files from reliable sources.
- Use a firewall to block unauthorized access to your computer.
- Install a good virus scanner program and update virus information files at least weekly
- Do not keep passwords, bank or financial account numbers, or other personal and confidential information on your computer's hard drive.
- Store this type of information on removable disks (floppies or zip disks).
Simply stated, a virus, Trojan or worm is a small program written to cause harm to one or more computers or networks. A Virus, Worm or Trojan can also be designed to retrieve information from your computer to be delivered to an attacker for future use. For example credit card information, passwords, and security access codes.
If you have any of the following symptoms, your computer may be infected.
- Does your computer suddenly take longer to start up? Do program sizes keep changing?
- Do you keep running out of disk space?
- Do you keep getting 32 bit error messages?
- Your computer won't boot up. File names are strange or keep changing. You can't access your hard drive without booting from a floppy startup disk.
- Your computers CMOS settings keep changing - and you have a new CMOS battery. Your computer is sending out emails that you didn't write.
- Strange unexplained things are happening with your computer; e.g. the CD ROM opens and closes when no one is using the computer.
- Monitor your children's Internet activity by checking all of the sites visited.
Tips to keep you safe online
- Never send money to an unsolicited e-mail or a posting you spotted on the Web. Never agree to a meeting with someone who has posted a fabulous offer.
- In-person meetings give the con artist a chance to turn on high-pressure sales tactics or even rob you.
- If you are setting up an online identity for e-mail, be very vague. Do not give out personal information in a profile.
- Contact your ISP or local law enforcement if you receive suspicious or threatening e-mail.
- Be alert for any responses to e-mail that you don't believe you have sent.
- Be alert to e-mail bearing a return address you recognize, but with content that does not match the personality of the sender.
- Look carefully at message headers for discrepancies between sender and provider. Acquire and use encryption software if you send e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.
- Web sites whose purposes are to commit fraud appear and disappear quickly, making it difficult for them to be tracked.