The Changing Landscape of Cybercrime

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Anatomy of the Problem

The computer security breaches that included the much- debated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, some of which were attributed to aCanadian teen masquerading in cyberspace as “Mafiaboy,” the Philippinegenerated “Love Bug,” and the “Killer Resume” e- mail attacks that wreaked havoc on world computer networks, were, in addition to being attentiongrabbing headlines, loud wake- up bells. Not only did these incidents expose law enforcement agencies’ lack of expertise in digital forensics, they also alerted a complacent society to the weaknesses in the computer network infrastructure, the poor state of the nation’s computer security preparedness, the little knowledge many of us have about computer security and the lack of efforts to secure computer system infrastructure at that time.1 They also highlighted the vulnerability of cyberspace businesses including critical national infrastructures like power grids, water systems, financial institutions, communication systems, energy, public safety, and all other systems run by computers that foreign governments or cyber terrorists could attack via the Internet.https://sbccd-my.sharepoint.comIn fact, the “Love Bug’s” near- lightning strike of global computers, itscapacity to penetrate the world’s powerful government institutions withrapid spread of the “Killer Resume” virus, although it attacked during off- peak hours, showed how easy it was and still is to bring the world’s computer infrastructure and all that depend on it to a screeching stop.
They also demonstrated how the world’s computer networks are at the mercy of not only affluent preteens and teens, as in the case of Mafiaboy, but also of the not so affluent, as in the case of the Philippine “Love Bug” creator. With national critical systems on the line, sabotage should no longer be expected to come from only known high- tech and rich countries but from anywhere, the ghettos of Manila and the jungles of the Amazon included. As computer know- how and use spreads around the world, so do the dangers of computer attacks.
How on earth did we come to this point? We are a smart people that designed the computer, constructed the computer communication network, and developed the protocols to support computer communication, yet we cannot safeguard any of these jewels from attacks, misuse, and abuse.
One explanation might be rooted in the security flaws that exist in thecomputer communication network infrastructures, especially the Internet.
Additional explanations might be: users’ and system administrators’ limited knowledge of the infrastructure, society’s increasing dependence on a systemwhose infrastructure and technology it least understands, lack of long- termplans and mechanisms in place to educate the public, a highly complacentsociety which still accords a “whiz kid” status to cyber vandals, inadequate seechanisms and solutions often involving no more than patching
les after an attack has ccurred, lack of knowledge concerning the price of this escalating problem, the absence of mechanisms to enforce reporting ocomputer crimes



In the last two decades, we have witnessed the rapid growth of the Internet, mobile technology and the correspondingly rapid growth of online crimes,
or cybercrimes. With this growth, there has been a spike in the rate of cybercrimes committed over the Internet. This has resulted into some people condemning the Internet and partner technologies as responsible for creating new
crimes and the root causes of these crimes. However, there is hardly any new
crime resulting from these new technologies. What has changed, as a result of
these new technologies, is the enabling environment. Technology is helping
in the initiation and propagation of most known crimes. As we get rapid
changes in technological advances, we are correspondingly witnessing waves
of cybercrimes evolving. Figure 1.1 shows the changing nature of the cybercrime landscape since 1980.
The period before 1980 was an experimental period. Then, the Internet
was new and required sophisticated and specialized knowledge that very few
people back then had. There was very little valuable information and data stored
in online databases as there is today, and there were no free online hacking tools
available. If one wanted to hack, one had to develop the tools to do the job—
a daunting task that required expertise. The easiest way to do it was to join hack –
ing groups. Ganglike groups like the Legions of Doom, the Chaos Computer Club, NuPrometheus League, and the Atlanta Three were formed. Most of
these groups were led by notorious individuals like Kevin Mitnick (“The Condor”), Ian Murphy (“Captain Zap”), and Patrick K. Kroupa (“Lord Digital”).
At the tail end of the 1980s, computers had become smaller. The personal
computer (PC) had been introduced and was becoming very successful. Businesses were buying these computers at a rapid pace. Schools of varying standards were opening up and filling with students interested in becoming
computer programmers. More computers started getting into the hands of
young people through their schools, libraries, and homes as it was becoming
more and more possible for affluent families to afford a home PC. Curious
young people got involved with the new tools in large numbers. As their numbers rose, so did cybercrimes.


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