Detecting internet crime

Investigating computer based criminal activity
Crimes involving information technologies pose new challenges for law enforcement. The Internet and other computer systems do not recognize state or international boundaries. An individual who is "armed" with nothing more than a computer and modem can victimize individuals and businesses anywhere in the world without ever stepping foot outside his or her home. While the Internet may be borderless, law enforcement agencies must respect the sovereignty of other nations. As a result, we increasingly are dedendent on cooperation with foreign law enforcement agencies in fighting computer crime. Unfortunately, differing legal systems and a significant disparity in technical expertise among foreign law enforcement agencies are major obstacles to these efforts.
Law enforcement agencies have observed that as more and more people acquire the capability, at work or home, to obtain access to the Internet, the Internet is becoming increasingly attractive for both legitimate and illegitimate activity. The same components of the Internet that are used to further commercial and personal interaction, such as Web sites, E-mail, and chat rooms, are also being used for deception and defrauding of individuals and businesses. Some of the more prominent types of online fraud now being reported include investment schemes (e.g., securities market manipulation, or "pump and dump," schemes), online auctions involving sales of computer equipment and services or collectibles, and prize or sweepstakes-based schemes.

Many crimes that are not specifically related to computers can be substantially facilitated by the use of computers. The easy access of cyberspace can provide a low-cost high-connectivity way for criminals to reach victims. Computers can be used in a variety of roles in crimes. Each of these roles can raise novel investigative and prosecutorial issues because of the unique attributes of computers.

Computer crime costs industry and society billions of dollars every year. There is substantial evidence computer crime is increasing in scope and in complexity. Left unchallenged, computer crime will stifle the expansion of electronic commerce and, potentially, pose a serious threat to public health and safety.

Generally, computer crimes fall into three areas: First, there are crimes where the computer is the target -- so-called hacking or intrusion crimes. Second, there are crimes where computers are the medium by which the criminal conduct is committed. This would include software piracy, Internet fraud, and telephone toll fraud. Third, there are many crimes where computers are used incidentally to the criminal offense, such as when drug traffickers store information on computers or where the evidence of health care fraud or other white collar crimes are stored on computer networks. These three categories cover most forms of computer crime, and include many crimes such as software piracy and intrusion cases that are of concern to the high-tech industry. Some traditional forms of criminal activity -- such as cargo theft -- involve computers in the planning and research stage.

The following 10 principles to combat high-tech crime are from the Communique of the G8 Ministerial Meeting on High-Tech Crime, December 10, 1997: 1. There must be no safe havens for those who abuse information technologies. 2. Investigation and prosecution of international high-tech crimes must be coordinated among all concerned States, regardless of where harm has occurred. 3. Law enforcement personnel must be trained and equipped to address high-tech crimes. 4. Legal systems must protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data and systems from unauthorized impairment and ensure that serious abuse is penalized. 5. Legal systems should permit the preservation of and quick access to electronic data, which are often critical to the successful investigation of crime. 6. Mutual assistance regimes must ensure the timely gathering and exchange of evidence in cases involving international high-tech crime. 7. Transborder electronic access by law enforcement to publicly available (open source) information does not require authorization from the State where the data resides. 8. Forensic standards for retrieving and authenticating electronic data for use in criminal investigations and prosecutions must be developed and employed. 9. To the extent practicable, information and telecommunications systems should be designed to help prevent and detect network abuse, and should also facilitate the tracing of criminals and the collection of evidence. 10. Work in this area should be coordinated with the work of other relevant international fora to ensure against duplication of efforts.
1. Some crimes that stem from systems or personal deception in e-commerce (e.g., identity theft and resulting fraudulent transactions) are likely to become more prevalent because of the global character of the Web.

2. The Internet provides a low risk and potentially anonymous way for individuals to commit unlawful acts such as unauthorized access to private communications, attacks on the integrity of network systems, threats and extortion, financial fraud, the distribution of child pornography and the piracy of creative materials protected by intellectual property rights.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 13: Climate Action