Computer Crime Research Center


Problems of counteraction to computer crimes and cyber terrorism

Date: March 16, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Vladimir Golubev

New opportunities of the Internet transformed many legal forms of activity, having cut down terms, simplified procedures of arranging deals and reduced distance between contracting parties along with increasing attendant costs. Almost no one controls modern computer networks. At the beginning, almost no one could foresee that it was possible to attack, steal data or money through the Internet. Information security became one of the most crucial social tasks. Topicality of the given article is conditioned by thousands of revealed annually attempts to illegally interfere with bank, military and corporative networks. According to most experts, today this phenomenon poses greater cyber security threat than 5 years ago. In spite of law enforcement and special services efforts directed to fighting computer crimes and cyber terrorism, their quantity, unfortunately, is not reducing, and vice versa their social danger is constantly growing. Under present day conditions, face of terrorism is changing, appearance of so-called cyber terrorism illustrates this trend. Actuality of observed in this article issues is determined also by the necessity of law enforcement to maintain scientifically based recommendations on computer crimes and cyber terrorism counteraction in view of newly passed Concept of National Security of Ukraine.

Number of crimes committed in cyber space is growing impetuously. Now we have 60 thousand of known different virus programs, the number of data bases and network breaches is increasing. According to estimation of many analysts, the character of hackings is changed now fundamentally. Earlier hackers acted generally alone, now we should speak about hacker groups.

Annual losses from illegal activity applying new Internet technologies are over $ 80 billion. Manufacturers and bankers spent about $ 30 billion on fighting hackers and viruses last year.

Now international terrorism has different face and nature than 10-15 years ago. Terrorists have at their disposal more powerful financial base, high tech opportunities and huge military potential. Terrorists employ computer technologies and the Internet along with traditional kinds of frightening. For example, well known sect Aum Sinrike (AS) worked on creating electromagnetic impulse cannons that can destroy computer systems, they carried out experiments on creating new dangerous network viruses, also recruited new members in the Internet.

Arabian Electronic Jihad Team (AEJT) declared about its existence in the beginning of 2003 year and about their goal to conquer the Internet. They said they would destroy all Israeli and American web sites and also all other “improper” sites. In August 2003, an overall electricity break happened in USA, resulting in preliminary material damage of $ 2-6 billion. During investigation of this accident, new facts showed that fails in computer networks were the main reason for emergency accident. “Blaster” worm jammed communication channels between control centers on the day of cascade breakdown. In a result, time of data transfer significantly increased and personnel didn’t manage to prevent breakdown development. And it is really difficult to say now whom to blame for this: Blaster or terrorist gang “Abu-Nafsa Brigade”.

Hacker activity directed to hacking of bank computer systems causes serious anxiety of law enforcement.

Several months ago Ukrainian hackers had attacked computer payments system of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (Great Britain). As a result the system of payments (WorldPay) was put out of action. The Royal Bank of Scotland took measures to renew the computer system of retail payments. By means of this system The Royal Bank served 27,000 clients by WorldPay and accepted payments on Visa, MasterCard, Diners and Eurocard in more than 27 countries all over the world.

Maxim Kovalchuk, 25 years old resident of Ternopol, Ukraine, who, as known, was arrested in Bangkok, was nominated as the "Best hacker" of October. As experts assert, he is one of the most dangerous hackers in the world and had caused damage of 100 million USD to leading computer companies of the USA.

On our opinion, owing to application of the newest information technologies on the criminal purpose, today this phenomenon poses more serious danger, than 5 years ago and also it results in increasing vulnerability of information infrastructure of our state. Despite efforts of many countries aimed at fighting cybercrimes, their number did not decrease, and, on the contrary, is constantly increasing. And Ukraine is also involved in this negative process.

According to official statistics of Economic Crime Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine [1] for 11 months of 2003 year there were 119 criminal cased initiated on computer-facilitated crimes. For comparison: in 2001 year 7 cybercrimes were revealed, in 2002 – 25, for 6 months of 2003 - 51 crime. The most common are offences with ids (logins - passwords, PIN-codes) which are committed both by outsiders, and workers of communication and Internet services companies; infringement of information of restricted access applying remote access technologies.

National infrastructure is associated with the Internet and obviously is becoming convenient target for cyber terrorism. Terrorists can be, first of all, interested in control systems of nuclear reactors, large storages of strategic raw materials (gas, oil), systems of water supply and electric power distribution, traffic centers, communications, secret biological labs, chemical plants.

Legal criminal problems in sphere of information relationship are getting particular actuality, in view of such situation. It is necessary to agree with opinion of A. Muzyka and D. Azarov [2] that theoretical concept of computer information crimes is the most controversial. Significant amount of scientists refused to develop it. So, experts in field of criminal law of European Council, during development of recommendations on counteraction to computer crimes, only list such offences and give up to give a certain definition.

V. Krylov [3] suggests, as alternative, more wide concept of “information crimes”, that allows to leave field of certain technical facilities. However, in respect to development and improvement of methods for concerned crimes, abstracting from certain technical means won’t allow to give full criminalistic definition of such crimes, it will be of little use and too bulky for practical application. It will make examination of tactical peculiarities of operative search, control revision, other measures and investigatory actions significantly difficult. Also it will make main regulations on tactics of special knowledge application dimmer in respect of revealing and investigating crimes of such group.

V. Bykov, A. Nekhoroshev, V. Cherkasov [4] point out that conditionally opinions of specialists on computer crimes can be divided into three groups:
1. Computer crimes are separate kind of criminal activity.
2. Computer crimes are not a separate kind of crimes, they should be qualified as common, traditional crimes. At this, computer is an object of a crime, instrument of a crime, mean with help of which crime is prepared and environment where it is committed.
3. There is broad interpretation of computer crimes concept, it covers all infringements of relations and connections of people, that mean application and using of computer facilities.

While analyzing current law, mentioned authors say that criminal legal regulation in computer-related crimes does not comply with reality in full extent. Number of existing (or probable in nearest future) criminal actions cannot be qualified according to the current Criminal Code. In number of cases they suggest to widen qualification features for crimes by introducing a definition “with use of computer technologies” (when its application obviously sharpens danger of certain crime).

Free access to information, information technologies and the Internet give relatively secure ways of carrying out information wars. Foreign analysts note that number of cyber activists that mean to extend movements of civil disobedience to cyberspace is growing. At this they apply new kinds of civil disobedience – electronic protest – instead of traditional (blockage of highways, buildings of state authorities, public buildings and premises of corporations). Work of D. Denning [5], a well-known expert in this field, is devoted to research into the Internet network as an instrument for influencing external policy. Author inquires three aspects of possible activity in the Web: social activity, hacking and cyber terrorism.

Electronic or cyber terrorism is intentional, politically motivated attack on information, processed by computer, computer system and network that would create danger for life or health of people, or other weighty consequences, if these actions were committed on purpose of violating social security, frightening of population, provoking armed conflict. Causing or threatening to cause damage is a peculiar warning about possible more weighty consequences if conditions of cyber terrorist are not fulfilled. Typical feature of cyber terrorism and its distinction from cyber criminality lies in its openness, when terrorist’s requirements are widely announced.

Cyber criminality is criminality in so called virtual space. Virtual space can be defined as fashioned with help of computer information space where data on persons, objects, facts, events, phenomena or processes are represented in mathematical, symbol or any other way and are...

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