The Evolutionary Path of Legal Responses to Cybercrime Threats Over the Last Decade

The Evolutionary Path of Legal Responses to Cybercrime Threats Over the Last Decade

Krassie Petrova (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand), B. Dawn Medlin (Appalachian State University, USA) and Adriana Romaniello (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-847-0.ch045
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Abstract

Information and communication technologies have transformed our lives. In the United States, we have become more dependent on these technologies and more of our sensitive information is stored and transferred in electronic form, thus requiring greater attention to the privacy and security of that information. To protect an individual‘s information, laws and regulations that are designed to impact cybercrime activities have been enacted. From the study of American laws we can observe an evolutionary process in relation to computer crimes. In this chapter, the authors explore the growth of cybercrime threats that have grown over the last decade as well as their legislative responses.
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Background

Cybercrime is a term that is quite difficult to define as it is described differently by even the experts within the information systems and criminal justice field of research. Some experts believe that cybercrime is nothing more than an ordinary crime such as larceny or trespassing that is committed using a computer, while other experts view cybercrime as a new type or a new category of crime, thus requiring new laws and regulations (Evans, Martin & Poatsy, 2009). Additionally, cybercrime has been defined as a subset of computer crime. Another definition of cybercrime includes networked services that can be disrupted or data that can be damaged or destroyed, rather than having data stolen or misused. This is referred to as “destructive cybercrime” (Cross, 2008, pg. 19).

In the 1980s and 1990s, cybercrime was mainly defined by the use of virus and worm attacks, that could exact some form of damage, yet the gains were generally negligible. Entering into and during the 21st century was the introduction of newer and more sophisticated forms of cybercrime such as malware, rootkits, and targeted attacks; criminals began to guide their attacks against individuals in order to obtain larger financial and informational gains. Cybercriminals though still commit crimes by introducing worms, viruses, and other malicious code into a system as well as mounting DoS attacks or vandalizing networked systems. Today, a more common activity of criminal crime is the use of computer actions that in some way deprives consumers of the use of the network and/or access to their information.

Another one of today’s most common types of computer-based criminal activity is click fraud. Click fraud involves a piece of malware that defrauds the advertising revenue counter engine through fraudulent user clicks. For instance, sites like eBay, one of the leaders in the Internet auction space, and its companion PayPal, are frequent targets of fraud. Whether the fraud occurs through the fraudulent listing of items or fraudulent bidding, the results are the same – a crime has been or is being committed – that of fraudulent activities.

As the Internet has matured, more and more data is constantly being uploaded and stored online. Therefore, it should not be surprising that every type of data from personal information to financial figures is located on computers that are linked globally via the Internet. The linkage of information has had a profound and dramatic affect on cybercrime growth as individuals are able to coordinate their activities using not only a computer, but other individuals, in their quest to obtain financial gain.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Privacy: Refers to the general belief that certain items such as written materials, oral communications, and matters having to do with personal relationships are confidential and should remain so unless they are voluntarily divulged.

PHI: Is personally identifiable health information; and most organizations that deal with personal information develop policies related to how to handle the information.

Cybercrime: Is conducted with the assistance of computers. Examples of cybercrime may include identity theft, online fraud, or other methods used to defraud individuals.

Theft: Refers to illegal access to personal information and can include falsifying or changing records.

Cybercrime Attacks: Generally include malware programs that are released over the Internet or network takedowns such as distributed denial of service attacks.

Information Security: Is important to individuals and businesses with the main goal of preventing data and information theft.?Laws: Both federal and state have been enacted that deal with cybercrime issues and can be seen in areas such as health care, financial agencies, and educational settings.

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