Considering the Role of E-Government in Cybercrime Awareness and Prevention: Toward a Theoretical Research Program for the 21st Century

Considering the Role of E-Government in Cybercrime Awareness and Prevention: Toward a Theoretical Research Program for the 21st Century

J. Mitchell Miller (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA), George E. Higgins (University of Louisville, USA) and Kristina M. Lopez (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2136-7.ch036
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Cybercrime has exponentially increased in recent years as an unavoidable byproduct of greater internet use, generally, and presents a wide range of criminal threats to large companies and individuals alike. While cyber offenses (e.g., cyberharassment, cyberstalking, identity theft, and intellectual property theft) and their address have been examined across diverse academic disciplines including criminology, electrical engineering, sociology, and computer science, minimal consideration has been given to the role of e-government in combating cybercrime – a somewhat ironic oversight given the computerized context of both. After reviewing the nature of cybercrime, this chapter considers e-government policies addressing cybercrime awareness, prevention, and victimization services. Discussion centers on the prospects for cybercrime theoretical research program development toward best practices public policy.
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A Brief Overview Of Cybercrime

Cybercrime refers to a fairly broad range of criminal activities that can be generally dichotomized into acts that either attack individual central processing units or computer networks (e.g., malware and viruses) or utilize computer networks to engage crime (e.g., bulk email scams, identity theft, fraud, and cyberstalking). There are several aspects of deviant computer practices with criminal intent distinguishable by an offense-specific jargon that has permeated the popular culture. Spam, unsolicited and predatory bulk emailing that, although for genuine commercial purposes, violated numerous federal and international privacy, morality, and telecommunications acts (Wikipedia, 2009 E-mail spam legislation by country). Zombies are computers attached to and hijacked through the web that aggressively and resiliently randomly attack other machines. Hackers (i.e., cybercriminals) use internet connections to place a computer virus that regenerates without permission and compromises a computer’s ability to function regularly.

The everyday use of the term computer virus has become a “catch-all” reference for malware generally, including worms, Trojan horses, adware, and spyware. Bulk email scams are widely known as phishing, an attempt to acquire personal financial information through communications disguised as being from a trustworthy or reputable source. These problems are spread across computers through emails, accessing internet sites, and through shared DVDs and floppy disks. Thus, problems are rarely contained to a single machine. Collections of compromised machines (the zombies) are called a botnet that, in turn, control multiple affected linked machines remotely by a bot herder, a head hacker.

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