Cybercrime criminological researches
A rapid development and wide use of information technologies, as well as the transformation of information into the most valuable resource of vital activity make humanity integrate into the information society. Information revolution introduced into our life all-new opportunities and opened singular perspectives: simplified an access to information, increased a rate of its transfer and potentialities of processing huge arrays of data, as well as allowed reaching another level of solutions.
Many scientific and technical achievements are also used to commit crimes. The development and improvement of computing technique and its application in all human activities, especially local and international networks, played the most important role in equipping criminals with appropriate technical means. The threat of cybercrimes consists also in that most of them resulted from professional and organized delinquency having now a transnational character. According to American experts, direct economic damages inflicted by cybercrimes are already equal to advantages of electronic computers introduced into practice let alone social and moral losses that cannot be estimated at all. Only in the USA, the overall income from cybercrimes makes up $500 million a year (April 2000). According to the FBI, in 1999 in the USA, the number of computer crimes was doubled when compared with 1998 (from 547 to 1154). The damage inflicted by these offences is $3.5 a year and annually increases by 35% whereas a loss caused by an average computer crime makes $560 thousand .
The analysis of various criminological researches of cybercrime development in Germany during 1987-1993 allows drawing a conclusion of an evident increase in the overall number of crimes registered in this category and a considerable dominance of such cases as swindle and information technique manipulations among them. According to German experts, the general material damage inflicted by economic cybercrimes having a latent nature is 70 billion DM a year [2, 105].
Since 1990, the number of such offences constantly increases in France, for example, 33 – in 1991, 40 – in 1992, 58 – in 1993. The tendency to grow takes place further especially due to the availability of computer systems and the lack of a necessary protection of memory on the part of manufacturers and users. The number of crimes increases by 30-40% a year. Losses annually reach 1 billion francs [2, 111].
People pay special attention to users who try to penetrate into other’s information systems by means of personal computers. There are two types of them: 1) hackers who put a security system out of action for the fun of it to prove that computerization can have very dangerous consequences^; 2) crackers who intervene in the computer network to destroy it or derive material benefits.
These delinquent users put computer systems out of action, block an accesses to information network resources, damage important computer information and programs by using information system and network imperfections and viruses as well. These are the prevailing crimes committed on the Internet.
“Computer crime” is a comparatively new term that has many meanings. German criminologists define computer crimes as “those committed by using the computer or against it” Some scientists interpret them as infringements of property interests when electronic information is deliberately modified (computer manipulation), destroyed (computer sabotage) or used to misappropriate computer time. It is a moot point if the intrusion into a private life by means of computers and offences committed with their help but not damaging property interests should be applied to computer crimes [3, 99-100].
The most popular is the following definition of computer crimes:
- Those committed in the sphere of computer information^;
- Those perpetrated by using the computer [4, 590-591].
Computer crimes were recognized in Ukraine when its new Criminal code came into effect (September 1, 2001). Section 16 qualified such offences as criminal. Computer crimes include those committed in the sphere of computer information: a) illegal interference with the work of electronic computers, their systems and networks (Article 361)^; b) theft, misappropriation and extortion of computer information or its capture by swindling or abusing official position (Article 362)^; c) violation of automated computer system operating rules (Article 363).
Computer crimes have not gained in wide scales in Ukraine but their cases have been already fixed. Thus, in 1995, about $4million were stolen by illegally penetrating into the “Ukraine” Bank computer network (the criminal was arrested). In 1997, Russia’s Demos Company that had literally heaped up Global Ukraine servers with e-garbage blocked the work of the Global Ukraine Internet-provider for some hours. In December 2000, the Ukrnet Internet-provider was attacked to obtained information on its e-mail boxes .
The cases of payment card swindle continue to grow: their number makes up 3%, the maximum admissible level being 0.3-0.7% .
According to the classification of computer crimes, in 2001, the Interpol obtained information on the following crimes committed by using electronic computers:
- Illegal computer data and program manipulation^;
- Computer forgery^;
- Storage and distribution of materials that are objects of criminal prosecution.
However, there were no data on computer piracy, information replacement or damage and so on [5, 244].
As to the cybercime criminological researches, it should be noted that their direct goal is to obtain information on qualitative and quantitative parameters of crimes, their determinants and effective measures taken to fight them, as well as to develop the system of conceptual and applied recommendations on improving procedures of preventing and fighting such offences. It means that the aim of criminological researches is to get materials that reveal deep and complex connections between some criminological features rather than just fix them.
However, there are some problems connected with carrying out cybercrime criminological researches.
1. The state has no computer crime research centers^;
2. The lack of complex programs also adversely affects these criminological researches^;
3. The modern criminal statistics does not abound in data on computer crimes because of objective and subjective reasons including the difficulty of investigating and qualifying them. However, it does not diminish their social danger. Quite the contrary, they are considered as the most latent.
It can be established that today Ukraine’s criminal statistics data do not reflect the society vulnerability caused by computer crimes and estimate their social danger in a wrong way. Ukraine has no adjusted mechanism of giving an assessment to latent computer crimes that would visually demonstrate their danger. Therefore, their scales are unknown. They are determined by using various sociological, statistical and analytical methods.
This problem is also peculiar to many foreign countries. Thus, up to 1986 “… German police criminal statistics did not register computer crimes because there was no such corpus delicti. In 1988, the police fixed 3355 cases of computer crimes. …The correlation between registered crimes and real (latent) ones is ranged from 1:4 to 1:100. The victims do not hasten to report the police about the perpetration of such crimes because they do not want to damage their image (banking establishments and firms) or they are not satisfied with police actions on investigating them. Sometimes police officers do not have sufficient technical knowledge” [3, 100-101].
4. There is no general inquiry and court practice of investigating computer crimes.
5. The foreign experience in criminological researches has not been generalized^;
6. The society loyally treats such crimes because persons that commit them use an intellectual way of enrichment^;
7. Ukraine’s criminal legislation is imperfect with respect to international and legal norms. Since Ukraine wants to integrate into the European Union, it is necessary to unify home laws including criminal ones.
The EU Legislation Committee recommends unifying criminal laws on computer crimes and specifying the liability for them:
- Unauthorized access to computer information^;
- Illegal interception of information with technical means or that of computer emanations^;
- Damage of information (modification, destruction and so on)^;
- Blocking the work of computer systems^;
- Distribution of programs, passwords or codes of access to information systems (hackers steal passwords and distribute them thereby threaten the security of information systems)^;
- Computer fraud (intruding into the work of information systems to derive economic benefits)^;
- Distribution of children’s pornography^;
- Copyright infringements.
1 According to the Interpol in Ukraine.
2 P.Bilenchuk, B.Romanyuk, V.Tsimbalyuk and others “Computer crimes”. Manual. – Kiev: Attic, 2002. – 240p.
3 X.Kerner Criminology. Dictionary. Edited by A.Dolgova. – M.: NORMA, 1998. – 400p.
4 Russian criminological encyclopedia. Edited by A.Dolgova. – M.: NORMA, 2000. – 808p.
5 B.Yarovoy Information technology crimes: problems and ways of fighting them // Acute problems of criminal and criminal-procedural legislation and practice of its application: collection of reports made by members of the Regional round table. – Khmelnitsky: 2002. – P.242-245.
^macro[showdigestcomments;^uri;Cybercrime criminological researches]