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Computer Crime In The 1990’s

We’re being ushered into the digital frontier. It’s a cyberland with incredible promise and untold dangers. Are we prepared ? It’s a battle between modern day computer cops and digital hackers. Essentially just think what is controlled by computer systems, virtually everything. By programming a telephone voice mail to repeat the word yes over and over again a hacker has beaten the system. The hacker of the 1990’s is increasingly becoming more organized very clear in what they’re looking for and very, very sophisticated in their methods of attack..

As hackers have become more ophisticated and more destructive, governments, phone companies and businesses are struggling to defend themselves. Phone Fraud In North America the telecommunications industry estimates long distance fraud costs five hundred million perhaps up to a billion every year, the exact the exact figures are hard to be sure of but in North America alone phone fraud committed by computer hackers costs three, four maybe even up to five billion dollars every year. Making an unwitting company pay for long distance calls is the most popular form of phone fraud today.

The first step is to gain access to private automated branch exchange known as a “PABX” or “PBX”. One of these can be found in any company with twenty or more employees. A “PABX” is a computer that manages the phone system including it’s voice mail. Once inside a “PABX” a hacker looks for a phone whose voice mail has not yet been programmed, then the hacker cracks it’s access code and programs it’s voice mail account to accept charges for long distance calls, until the authorities catch on, not for a few days, hackers can use voice mail accounts to make free and untraceablecalls to all over the world.

The hackers that commit this type of crime are becoming ncreasingly organized. Known as “call cell operators” they setup flyby night storefronts were people off the street can come in and make long distance calls at a large discount, for the call cell operators of course the calls cost nothing, by hacking into a PABX system they can put all the charges on the victimized companies tab. With a set of stolen voice mail access codes known as “good numbers” hackers can crack into any phone whenever a company disables the phone they’re using.

In some cases call cell operators have run up hundreds of thousands of dollars in long distance charges, driving businesses and companies traight into bankruptcy. Hacking into a PABX is not as complicated as some people seem to think. The typical scenario that we find is an individual who has a “demon dialer” hooked up to their personal home computer at home that doesn’t necessarily need to be a high powered machine at all but simply through the connection of a modem into a telephone line system.

Then this “demon dialer” is programmed to subsequently dial with the express purpose of looking for and recording dialtone. A demon dialer is a software program that automatically calls thousands of phone numbers to find ones that are connected to computers. A asic hacker tool that can be downloaded from the internet. They are extremely easy programs to use. The intention is to acquire dialtone, that enables the hacker to move freely through the telephone network. It’s generally getting more sinister. We are now seeing a criminal element now involved in term of the crimes they commit, the drugs, money laundering etc.

These people are very careful they want to hide their call patterns so they’ll hire these people to get codes for them so they can dial from several different calling locations so they cannot be detected. The worlds telephone network is a vast maze, there are many places to hide ut once a hacker is located the phone company and police can track their every move. The way they keep track is by means of a device called a “DNR” or a dial number recorder. This device monitors the dialing patterns of any suspected hacker.

It lists all the numbers that have been dialed from their location, the duration of the telephone call and the time of disconnection. The process of catching a hacker begins at the phone company’s central office were thousands of lines converge to a main frame computer, the technicians can locate the exact line that leads to a suspected hackers phone line by the touch of a button. With the “DNR” device the “computer police” retrieve the number and also why the call was made and if it was made for illegal intention they will take action and this person can be put in prison for up to five years and be fined for up to $ 7500. 0.

The telephone network is a massive electronic network that depends on thousands of computer run software programs and all this software in theory can be reprogrammed for criminal use. The telephone system is in other words a potentially vulnerable system, by cracking the right codes and inputting the correct passwords a hacker can sabotage a switching system for millions of hones, paralyzing a city with a few keystrokes. Security experts say telephone terrorism poses a threat, society hasn’t even begun to fathom ! You have people hacking into systems all the time.

There were groups in the U. S. A in 1993 that shutdown three of the four telephone switch stations on the east coast, if they had shutdown the final switch station as well the whole east coast would have been without phones. Things of this nature can happen and have happened in the past. Back in the old days you had mechanical switches doing crossbars, things of that nature. Today all telephone witches are all computerized, they’re everywhere. With a computer switch if you take the first word “computer” that’s exactly what it is, a switch being operated by a computer.

The computer is connected to a modem, so are you and all the hackers therefore you too can run the switches. Our generation is the first to travel within cyberspace, a virtual world that exists with all the computers that form the global net. For most people today cyberspace is still a bewildering and alien place. How computers work and how they affect our lives is still a mystery to all but the experts, but xpertise doesn’t necessarily guarantee morality. Originally the word hacker meant a computer enthusiasts but now that the internet has revealed it’s potential for destruction and profit the hacker has become the outlaw of cyberspace.

Not only do hackers commit crimes that cost millions of dollars, they also publicize their illegal techniques on the net where they innocent minds can find them and be seduced by the allure of power and money. This vast electronic neighborhood of bits and bytes has stretched the concepts of law and order. Like handbills stapled to telephone polls the internet appears to defy regulation. The subtleties and nuances of this relatively new form to the words “a gray area” and “right and wrong”.

Most self described hackers say they have been given a bad name and that they deserve more respect. For the most part they say hackers abide by the law, but when they do steal a password or break into a network they are motivated by a helping desire for knowledge, not for malicious intent. Teenagers are especially attracted by the idea of getting something for nothing. When system managers try to explain to hackers that it is wrong to break into computer systems there is no point because hackers with the aid of a omputer possess tremendous power.

They cannot be controlled and they have the ability to break into any computer system they feel like. But suppose one day a hacker decides to break into a system owned by a hospital and this computer is in charge of programming the therapy for a patient there if a hacker inputs the incorrect code the therapy can be interfered with and the patient may be seriously hurt. Even though this wasn’t done deliberately. These are the type of circumstances that give hackers a bad reputation. Today anyone with a computer and a modem can enter millions of computer systems around the world.

On he net they say bits have no boundaries this means a hacker half way around the world can steal passwords and credit card numbers, break into computer systems and plant crippling viruses as easily as if they were just around the corner. The global network allows hackers to reach out and rob distant people with lightning speed. If cyberspace is a type of community, a giant neighborhood made up of networked computer users around the world, then it seems natural that many elements of traditional society can be found taking shape as bits and bytes.

With electronic commerce comes electronic merchants, plugged-in educators rovide networked education, and doctors meet with patients in offices on-line. IT should come as no surprise that there are also cybercriminals committing cybercrimes. As an unregulated hodgepodge of corporations, individuals, governments, educational institutions, and other organizations that have agreed in principle to use a standard set of communication protocols, the internet is wide open to exploitation. There are no sheriffs on the information highway waiting to zap potential offenders with a radar gun or search for weapons if someone looks suspicious.

By almost all accounts, this lack of “law enforcement” leaves net sers to regulate each other according to the reigningnorms of the moment. Community standards in cyberspace appear to be vastly different from the standards found at the corner of Markham and Lawrence. Unfortunately, cyberspace is also a virtual tourist trap where faceless, nameless con artists can work the crowds. Mimicking real life, crimes and criminals come in all varieties on the internet. The FBI’s National Computer Squad is dedicated to detecting and preventing all types of computer -related crimes.

Some issues being carefully studied by everyone from the net veterans and law enforcement agencies to radical crimes include: Computer Network Break-Ins Using software tools installed on a computer in a remote location, hackers can break into any computer systems to steal data, plant viruses or trojan horses, or work mischief of a less serious sort by changing user names or passwords. Network intrusions have been made illegal by the U. S. federal government, but detection and enforcement are difficult. Industrial Espionage Corporations, like governments, love to spy on the enemy.

Networked systems provide new opportunities for this , as hackers-for-hire retrieve information about product development and marketing strategies, rarely leaving ehind any evidence of the theft. Not only is tracing the criminal labor- intensive, convictions are hard to obtain when laws are not written with electronic theft in mind. Software Piracy According to estimates by U. S. Software Publisher’s Association, as much as $7. 5 billion of American software may be illegally copied and distributed worldwide. These copies work as well as the originals, and sell for significantly less money.

Piracy is relatively easy, and only the largest rings of distributors are usually to serve hard jail time when prisons are overcrowded with people convicted of more serious crimes. Child Pornography This is one crime that is clearly illegal, both on and off the internet. Crackdowns may catch some offenders, but there are still ways to acquire images of children in varying stages of dress and performing a variety of sexual acts. Legally speaking, people who provide access to child porn face the same charges whether the images are digital or on a piece of paper.

Trials of network users arrested in a recent FBI bust may challenge the validity of those laws as they apply to online services. Mail Bombings Software can be written that will instruct a computer to do almost anything, nd terrorism has hit the internet in the form of mail bombings. By instructing a computer to repeatedly send mail (email) to a specified person’s email address, the cybercriminal can overwhelm the recipient’s personal account and potentially shut down entire systems. This may not be illegal , but it is certainly disruptive.

Password Sniffers Password sniffers are programs that monitor and record the name and password of network users as they log in, jeopardizing security at a site. Whoever installs the sniffer can then impersonate an authorized user and log in to access restricted documents. Laws are not yet up to adequately prosecute a erson for impersonating another person on-line, but laws designed to prevent unauthorized access to information may be effective in apprehending hackers using sniffer programs.

The Wall Street Journal suggest in recent reports that hackers may have sniffed out passwords used by members of America On-line, a service with more than 3. 5 million subscribers. If the reports are accurate, even the president of the service found his account security jeopardized. Spoofing Spoofing is the act of disguising one computer to electronically “look” like another computer in order to gain access to a system that would normally be estricted. Legally, this can be handles in the same manner as password sniffers, but the law will have to change if spoofing is going to be addressed with more than a quick fix solution.

Spoofing was used to access valuable documents stored on a computer belonging to security expert Tsutomu Shimomura (security expert of Nintendo U. S. A) Credit Card Fraud The U. S secret service believes that half a billion dollars may be lost annually by customers who have credit card and calling card numbers stolen from on-line databases. Security measures are improving and traditional methods of aw enforcement seem to be sufficient for prosecuting the thieves of such information.

Bulletin boards and other on-line services are frequent targets for hackers who want to access large databases or credit card information. Such attacks usually result in the implementation of stronger security systems. Since there is no single widely-used definition of computer-related crime, computer network users and law enforcement officials most distinguish between illegal or deliberate network abuse versus behavior that is merely annoying. Legal systems everywhere are busily studying ways of dealing with crimes and criminals on the internet.

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