Computer Crime Research Center


Some aspects of international counteraction to crimes committed by using information technologies

Date: January 29, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Vasili Polivanyuk

Information in general and knowledge separately are decisive factors, which influence the development of technology and technological resources of humanity. As a matter of fact, they establish borders of technologies and possibilities of the developing of nature and further development of society. The key revolutionary discoveries in the field of information science have been opening new opportunities and giving impetus to the development of great technological revolutions. Computer systems have increased the extent of information by 7-8 times up to 1025 bits.

The use of up-to-date information technologies on the base of personal computers, information-computing networks and computerized ones provided every person with opportunities of accessing to data stored in the corresponding data bases, establishing links independently of time and administrative and state borders of a subscriber. Along with advantages, computerization has some negative consequences. One can assert that one of negative social and economical consequences of scientific and technical progress is the emergency of computer crimes.

Computer crimes – it is a new phenomenon, raised by opportunities of almost unpunished commitment of offences in the sphere tightly closed for a person who does not know principles of computer skillfulness.

The term of “computer crime” first appeared in American and then in other foreign mass media early 60th, when the first cases of crimes committed by using computers were revealed. This phenomenon gains strength not only in local, national but also global scale. In Ukraine criminologists’ opinion computers are now a likely instrument of mercenary crimes [1, 101].

P.Bilenchuk, M.Zuban and V.Golubev, the scientists-criminologists, emphasize that now home science of criminology does not still have an exact definition of computer crime, various points of view on its classification being discussed. The difficulty of defining these notions consists in both the impossibility of singling out a common object of a crime and the multitude of objects of a crime from the standpoint of their criminal and legal importance [2, 19].

Many experts divided computer crimes into two types:

1. Crimes committed by using computers

- destroying or changing data, software and hardware

- plundering input/output data, software and hardware

- economical espionage and divulging information which is State or commercial secret

- other offences of this kind.

2. Legal actions implemented by using computers as an instrument of attaining a criminal purpose.

- computer sabotage;

- extortion and blackmail;

- peculation;

- plundering money;

- swindling consumers, investors or users;

- other crimes.

The category of “other offences/crimes” includes an unauthorized use of computer for special purposes.

To our mind computer crimes mean dangerous activity or inactivity which are implemented by using modern information technologies and means of computing equipment to inflict losses for property or social interests of the State, enterprises, departments, organizations, co-operatives, civil formations and people, as well as personal rights.

The extensions of general computer knowledge, constant improving of technical characteristics and attendant drop in prices for hardware, use of computers almost in all professions, development of machine languages of high level which can be easily mastered by any concerned person, and, as consequence, continuous growth of users caused increasing the number of crimes connected with applying computer machinery. The increase of criminal cases dealing with computer crimes can be observed practically in all countries with developed industry.

According to American experts, the direct economical damage caused by computer crimes stands now on the same level with advantages obtained from introducing computers into practice, and social and moral losses are not subject to assessment at all. Such assessment is exaggerated, but facts say for themselves: suffice to mention that only in the USA economical losses inflicted by computer crimes in 90th approached 100 billion US dollars. It is necessary to have in mind that this kind of crimes has a high latency: only 10-15% of computer offences can be detected since organizations suffered from such crimes are reluctant to give information because it can damage their image or cause repeated crimes (1,101).

The analysis of different criminological studies of the development of computer crimes in Germany from 1987 till 1993 leads to conclusions on marked increase in general number of registered crimes of this category, as well as considerable prevalence of cases of fraud and manipulation of other kinds of computer crimes.

Taking into consideration latent offences general material damages, which are yearly inflicted by economical computer crimes, make up 70 billion DM according to German experts.

From 1990 till 1994 Norway police registered 55 cases of unauthorized access to computer networks and 86 computer frauds, every year their number increasing. General losses inflicted by computer crimes in the period of 1989-1992 increased from 270 million krones up to 480 million krones.

In France beginning from 1990 crimes of this category are subject to regular growth, for example, 33- in 1991, 40-in 1992, 58 – in 1993. The tendency towards increasing the number of crimes of such a kind remains afterwards, especially due to the emergence of computer networks and absence of proper protection of memory ( information in memory banks) on part of a manufacturer and users. The number of the given crimes increases by 30-40% every year. Damages from computer crimes reach 1 billion francs a year (3, 111).

First special laws against computer crimes were accepted in 1973 in Swiss and 1976 in the USA at the federal level. The corpus deliciti of crimes in the sphere of information technologies (computer crimes) was formed in 1979 on the conference of American association of lawyers in Dallas, and incorporated: the use or attempt to use a computer, computing system or computer networks to obtain money, property or services by means of false codes or by pretending to be some other person; international unauthorized action having for an object to change, destroy, damage or plunder computer, computing system, computer network or system of software, programs or data; intentional unauthorized disturbance of connection among computers, computing systems or computer networks (3, 60). In due course many countries all over the world gradually approved legislative acts on crimes of this category.

In February in 1986 Bundestag in Germany adopted the Second Law against economical crimes. Due to it the legal base was laid for effective , criminal and legal prosecution of economical offences of a new type, first of all, those committed by using computer technologies. Some new articles introduced by this law contain specially defined corpus deliciti of computer crimes. The law was put in force on 1 August 1986.

In Italy the legislative acts introduced main regulations on the most important computer crimes:

1. Decree 518 from 29.12.92 “Use of regulations of European Economical cooperation for No.91/250 on official protection of computer programs”.

2. Law 547 from 23.12.93 “Replacement and introduction of new articles on computer crimes into the Criminal Code”.

The computer crime, according to Italy’s criminal legislation – an offence committed by using computer technologies, from personal one to portable telephone devices created on the base of microchips.

Italy’s laws provide government organizations, firms, military objectives, banks, companies with protection from unauthorized access to computer networks, illegal use of protected bank data, unlawful copying of topographies of chips which the criminals use to obtain codes of credit and phone cards, banking accounts and so on.

In Italy annual losses caused by computer crimes make up hundred million lire. Computer criminals are characterized by using software, which can automatically take all alphabetical and figure combinations on the base of generator of casual figures. Due to this procedure they are capable of gaining password, which will allow to enter the system [3, 109].

France possesses a full juridical arsenal to fight against such category of crimes. In 1994 they formed Police Brigade experienced in revealing and investigating computer crimes in the close collaboration with security services and civil organizations.

On 1 April 1994 a new version of the Criminal Code, which radically changed internal laws about computer crimes, was carried into effect.

The Criminal Code incorporated articles with sanctions against infringements, which are connected with processing information and crimes dealing with data falsification.

“Godfrran” Law accepted on 5 January 1994 and called in honor of its author specified problems of jurisprudence and practice on unauthorized access and counteraction to system operation and the annular damage caused by them, for...

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