Computer Crime Research Center


Look out for cyber crime

Date: January 12, 2008
By: Andrew Garner

The rapid growth of the Internet has revolutionized information and communication, but it has also had some negative consequences - such as being used as a tool for crime.

Andalusia Police Department computer forensics technician Mike Hayden said the term for crimes committed with a computer is "cyber crime."

"Cyber crime is any willful or accidentally completed act or violation of law done over the computer," Hayden said. "The same laws that apply here (in real life), apply also to the Internet."

Hayden said that crimes done through electronics can be just as serious as those done without the use of computers.

"They can be the same as civil crimes," he said. "Such as harassment, stalking, identity theft and even forgery."

Some varieties of cyber crime are traditional, computer age and storage crimes, according to the National White Collar Crime Center.

Traditional crime is crime that involves child pornography, computer age crime involves viruses or hacking attacks on corporate and personal computers and storage crime involves the storing of evidence on a computer for later discovery by law enforcement.

Hayden said storage crime is something his department deals with often, even in cases that may not technically be classified as "cyber crime."

"More than likely there will be evidence that has been stored on a computer," he said. "It's the evidence that will point towards the crime. Even in the poorest of houses a computer will be found."

Another form of an Internet offense is known as cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying is when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, threatened, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the Internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones, according to the National Crime Prevention Council.

Hayden said that in addition to cyber crime, cyberbullying is another issue that parents need to take a bigger role in.

"It's not good for a child to stay on the Internet for long periods of time," he said. "Parents need to put their computer in the home where it is convenient to the whole family, like a family room or the den."

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