what you don't know can hurt you


Posted Aug 17, 1999

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<H1>A Characteristic Model of <BR>
Computer Criminals</B></FONT>
<H3>by Ehud Avner</H3></H1>
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Recent personality analysis conducted in several countries enabled
the construction of a model of character traits typical to computer
The model refers mainly to information systems department employees
and users of on-line computer services.

<CENTER><H3>The Model</H3>
<TD>18 - 35 years old</TD></TR>

<TD>Mostly male</TD></TR>

<TD>Manager or a high ranking clerk</TD></TR>

<TR><TD valign=top>Traits</TD>
<TD>Bright, thorough, highly-motivated, diligent, trustworthy - the
last to be considered suspect, hard working, stable, first to
arrive and last to go, does not take vacations, apprehensive of
intimate relationships and of losing prestige, individualist,
solves problems independently.</TD></TR>

<TR><TD>Criminal Record</TD>

<TR><TD valign=top>The Methods</TD>
<TD>Executing an apparently ordinary action in the course of normal
and legal system operations such as: salary calculations,
payments to suppliers, insurance payments, transferal of tax and
V.A.T returns etc.</TD></TR>

<TR><TD valign=top>Aftermath Reaction</TD>
<TD>It is not a crime, I hurt no one, everybody does that, the banks
steal more, I only tried to prove to my employers that it is

<TR><TD valign=top>The Law</TD>
<TD>Does not deal with it. Usually both sided compromise and the case
is kept silent.</TD></TR>
<H3>Computer Criminology</H3>
In approaching the issue of computer crimes and criminals, it
is necessary to consider not only the technological aspects affecting
the computer environment, but also additional unique circumstances
which help create criminal options. Combining the system's environment
with specific circumstances provides a high risk setting from
which computer crimes evolve. Computer criminology rests on the
same premise as any other type of crime, namely:
<LI> The possibility to gain wealth or achieve an illegal objective
easily and in a short time span.
<LI> A small chance of detection and a relatively lenient punishment
if caught.
<LI> Ample opportunity.
The computer environment as a microcosm of modern society has
created several options for different types of computer crimes;
embezzlement, through the transfer of funds between accounts electronically,
fraud, through changing computations or omitting transactions,
information theft, through the access of data sources, and financial
damage through malicious disruption of the central computing system
of an organization.
Computer crimes and criminals are receiving increasing media coverage
due to the rising numbers of companies and governmental agencies
which are fully computerized and which give access to the system
to an ever-increasing number of employees. In spite of this increased
coverage, there is no clear indication of a strong negative societal
attitude towards this type of crime. The lack of a clear social
perception (norm) with regards to computer crimes could be attributable
to the fact that computer crimes are a relatively new phenomenon,
and public opinion is not yet sufficiently formulated. Other reasons
could result from the technical nature of the crime, which many
people lack an understanding of, and from the fact that frequently
companies which have been subjected to a computer crime prefer
not to publicize it in an attempt to minimize damages, and prevent
harm to their credibility.
Few countries incorporate sufficient laws to regulate computer
crimes. The drafting and enactment of such laws are hindered by
the complexity of the information technology environment and by
the difficulty in defining clearly terms such as "software"'
"electronic media" etc.
In order for an actual computer related crime to take place, several
factors must come into play. First, there must be an individual
with the technical abilities to plan and execute the crime. Second,
there are personal (subjective) grievances, which the perpetrator
believes can be righted by instigating the crime. Third, the perpetrator
must feel confident that the crime committed will be nearly impossible
to trace (the perfect crime illusion). Last, the intended criminal
must have ready and legitimate access to the system in both the
physical and the logical sense, and the crime must be perpetrated
in the course of ordinary system activity.
Computer crimes are hard to prevent, and yet prevention is possible
through a combination of controlling the access and use to the
system, and creating an "alert and prevent" policy directed
at system users. While access controlling methods are rarely foolproof,
security can be layered in such a way as to severely decrease
the likelihood of a crime and to deter would be criminals by creating
an auditing and monitoring system which will disclose the source,
time and nature of a violation in the system.
Computer crime prevention is hinged on the existence of regular
backups which enable comparisons of information, and more importantly,
restorations of systems to their correct state if they were maliciously
or accidentally disrupted or destroyed. Similarly, every organization
today which provides employees with access to information stored
on the system, has an obligation to install a security system
complete with access control, encryption options, privilege definitions
and monitoring options to deter and prevent would be computer



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Copyright &copy; 1997 EliaShim</I>
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