The full realization of the potential benefits brought by internet in the global community is greatly sabotaged by cyber crime activities. Cyber crime is increasingly becoming a major concern across the social, scientific, economic, and law enforcement fronts of the global community. Although the actual economic impact of cyber crimes is hard to qualify, it is estimated that the American nation looses over $100 million on internet related crimes every year. There are numerous types of cyber crimes (Laser, 2009).
These includes; identity theft, fraud, hacking, cyber terrorism, malicious computer programs, web posting of offensive materials, and drug trafficking among others. Due to the negative social and economic impact of cyber crime activities, governments and other stakeholders have engaged in a number of prevention measures. They encompass creation of public awareness to enable internet users to identify, report, and/or avoid being victims of such crimes (McDowell, 2008). Software scientists have also engaged in developing effective computer and network security software.
In addition to this, there are laws such as the Intellectual Property Law, Electronic Communication Privacy Law, and the 2001 Patriotic Act serve an important role in detecting and prosecuting cyber crime offenders. This essay seeks to discuss malicious computer programs (also know as malware) as a form of cyber crime, its characteristics and how it is prevented, detected, and/or prosecuted. Malicious computer programs are defined as coded programs, which serve either to corrupt the effective functioning of a computer system or lead to unwarranted remote accessing of information from a computer network (Loader, Douglas, & Thomas, 2000).
Viruses and worms are the most common types of malicious computer programs or software. Other malicious computer programs include spyware, and Trojan. They are codes which serve to compromise information stored in computer network devices. This type of malicious computer programs is commonly associated with infecting executable computer files and denial of network access by authorized users (Loader, Douglas, Thomas, 2000). Indeed, through extensive infecting of computer files, such codes are responsible for crashing of computer network devices.
Other common forms of malicious computer programs are deceptive Trojan horses, multi-purpose bots, and spyware programs. This is increasingly becoming a common cyber crime. Such programs are characterized by their ability to allow for the stealing of sensitive information from protected networks (Metropolitan Police, 2009). According to available information on these malicious computer programs, they can serve to aid a hacker in remotely accessing passwords and credit card details of network users without detection.
In addition, due to their sophisticated capability, such programs are employed for facilitating corrupting of confidential information stored institutional networks (Loader, Douglas, & Thomas, 2000). Such can also be used by terrorist groups to qualify the crucial information from their target government prior to attacks. There are numerous ways established for preventing malicious computer programs as a cyber crime activity. The most common measure is the creation of awareness among the general public and institutions on how to identify and mitigate being affected malicious computer programs (McDowell, 2008).
To realize this preventive measure, network software scientists have engaged in numerous researches; developing highly intelligent network security software. Indeed, some software such as antivirus are commonly found free in the internet. Such are serving the crucial purpose of mitigating infection of computer networks by malicious computer codes such as virus and worm among others. Still, this intelligent network security software brings with them the ability to identify and deny access of systems by unauthorized users (Lasar, 2009).
According to available research findings on the effectives of malicious computer programs, it is clearly established that some forms of these programs which are hard to control. In a move to protect the integrity of information technology in the society, it is a common practice for highly sensitive institutions to close down their networks upon realizing any errant behaviors. It is worth noting that such moves are instrumental in ensuring the continued illegal access of networks by hackers. This is usually followed by a change of the overall access security codes and other check requirements.
Indeed, for security codes of highly sensitive institutional networks, constant changing is recommended to reduce access chances by hackers. The process of detecting and prosecuting cyber crimes is quite complex. This has been closely attributed to the fact that offenders in these crimes employ high sophisticated technologies (Metropolitan Police, 2009). It is commonly claimed that thieves are usually ahead of technology. Another problem compromising the process of detecting and prosecuting malicious computer programs crime offenders is low rates of reporting such crimes by the victims (McDowell, 2008).
Such have also been associated by the failure of network company providers to cooperate with the law enforcement in identifying such incidences. Despite these drawbacks, the war on malicious computer programs as a cyber crime activity has employed a number of methods. First is the use of computer forensic investigation practices to qualify evidence of suspect malicious computer program offender (Lasar, 2009). This process involves technological analysis of collected data by forensic computer scientists.
It is to be underscored that according to existing laws such as the Intellectual Property Law and Electronic Communication Privacy Law provides for legal suits against the programmers and distributors of malicious computer programs (Loader, Douglas, Thomas, 2000). Another commonly used measure in detecting cyber crimes is the tapping of communication networks by law enforcement agents. Although this method has received heavy critics for interfering with the privacy and confidentiality of communication, it serves great purpose in mitigating unwarranted access of sensitive networks.
The Patriotic Act of 2001, which allows for government surveillance of the internet, is aimed at mitigating terrorist activities. According to the provisions of the Act, law enforcement is given legal authority to intercept internet communications by crime suspects. Another crucial provision of the Act is its mandatory dictate for network providers to cooperate with the law enforcement in identifying the original of a given communication of malicious programs. Based on this reason, the process of detecting malicious computer programs has significantly improved with the enforcement of the Patriotic Act.
Another measure of detecting cyber crime activities is the modern streamlining of the reporting and responsiveness practices in the law enforcement (McDowell, 2008). This encourages institutions and individual victims of malicious computer programs to report such incidences, thus enhancing the process of mitigating such criminal activities by the law enforcement agencies. In conclusion, the escalating problem of cyber crime activities is increasingly compromising the realization of the potential benefits brought internet technological advancements in the community.
Although all cyber crimes have negative social and economic impacts in the society, malicious computer programs are a real threat to the security of nations across the global. Such programs are evidently blamed for corrupting executable computer network file, crashing of network devices, denying access by authorized users, and allowing access of private information by hackers. Therefore, there is need for more consulted efforts by the computer security software scientists, law enforcement, and other stakeholders to engage in formulating effective measures of fighting cyber crime. References Lasar, M. (2009).
An introduction to the FBI’s anti-cyber crime network. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://arstechnica. com/web/news/2009/11/an-introduction-to-the-fbis-anti-cybercrime-network. ars Loader, B. , Douglas, T. , & Thomas, D. (2000). Cyber crime: Law Enforcement, Security, and Surveillance in the Information. New York: Routledge. McDowell, M. (2008). National Cyber Alert System. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://www. us-cert. gov/cas/tips/ST05-006. html Metropolitan Police. (2009). Trojan’ computer arrests. Retrieved May 28, 2010, from http://cms. met. police. uk/news/arrests_and_charges/trojan_computer_virus_arrests
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