Friedman (2007) provides the flat world enabled people across the globe to communicate, create, collaborate, and grow. At the same time, Friedman (2007) acknowledges the flattening of the world presented challenges. Taking inspiration from Friedman (2007), cyber-crime is any criminal act dealing with computers and networks (Webopedia website, n.d.). Moreover, computer crime pervades society. Thus, the author of this blog could not lend details for all of the computer hazards; thus, he focused on a few crimes such as cyber threats, cyber terrorism, identity theft, fraud, child predators, and child pornography. Next, the author of this blog supplies background of these threats and concludes by applying computer ethics to computer crimes. First, he examines cyber threats.
According the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), cyber threats will soon rival terrorism as the primary danger facing the United States (Clayton, 2013). Cyber threats involve computer intrusions or break-ins by hackers to exploit computer networks (Clayton, 2013). These hackers break into computer systems to steal information or diffuse viruses to infect computers. Viruses are malicious kinds of software that challenge computer security (The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, 2008)
Cyber terrorism is a large cyber threat for the United States. Traditionally, terrorists attempted to impose physical harm through bombs and airplanes. With the proliferation of computers and the internet, cyber terrorists target destroying the infrastructure of the United States by attacking the power supply (Clayton, 2013). To illustrate, the cyber terrorist’s intent is to cause havoc by bringing down the banking system, the backbone of the United States financial system. Imagine the widespread chaos if automated teller machines went blank and people could not access money to buy basic essentials of food and water! Adding fuel to the fire, smartphones would be inoperable making personal and business communication difficult. Thus, cyber terrorism’s goal is to create panic and thereby a systemic breakdown.
Another cyber threat is identity theft, which is a type of fraud. The author’s organization of employment is a financial services corporation, which regularly encounters identify theft. Identify theft is a fraud using the identifying information of another person without the proper authority usually for economic gain (Department of Justice website, n.d.). In 2003, Federal Trade Commission research indicated that nearly 10 million Americans were victims of identity theft the preceding year (Federal Trade Commission website, 2003). An example of identity theft is a person steals an investor’s demographic data such as name, social security number, and address, calls into the customer-service phone center or logs onto the website to change the address on an account, and redeems the entire account to the new address. Another example outside of the author’s business is the misuse of a stolen credit card to purchase merchandise online.
Other types of fraud his company experiences are phishing, pharming, and key-logging. First, phishing is when a criminal attempts to steal personal information from an investor using an unsolicited, genuine looking email with a link to a fake website (Business ID Theft website, n.d.). Second, pharming is when a criminal hacks into a computer to redirect online traffic from a legitimate website to a fake one and captures the information the investor enters (Business ID Theft website, n.d.). Finally, key-logging is when a criminal deploys hidden programs in counterfeit emails or websites to record the investor’s keystrokes and steal information (Webopedia website, n.d.). In essence, the objective of criminal’s fraudulent activities in targeting his organization is to steal investor’s money! From an overall business perspective, only 22 percent of surveyed cases detected and stopped fraud (Business ID Theft website, n.d.); transaction methods such as credit and debit card fraud, fraudulent wire transfers, fraudulent ACH, and fraudulent bill pay transfers enabled criminals through computers (Business ID Theft website, n.d.). Furthermore, fraud experts caution the Holiday Season is the prime time of year for criminals to commit online fraud (Weisbaum, 2013). To explain, criminals deploy magnitudes of viruses targeting mobile devices by installing spyware to steal online shopper’s names, passwords, and credit card information (Weisbaum, 2013). Given this hectic time of year, Holiday shoppers are wise to be on alert for suspicious activities when making gift purchases through smartphones or the internet.
Other computer crimes are child predators and child pornography. Sad to say, child predators lure children into meeting them over the internet. For example, the predator uses a social media website such was Facebook to lure a potential victim. To combat these despicable predators, parents access the family watchdog website where sex offenders are registered (Family Watchdog website, n.d.). However, the best defense is to educate children on detecting and preventing predators. Another deplorable criminal act is child pornography. Enough said. As demonstrated above, computer crime is pervasive and the author next applies computer ethics to it.
An early pioneer for ethics and computers, Wiener (1954) provides the purpose of human life is to flourish as the information-processing organisms that humans are by taking in a wide diversity of information and processing it ways that constitute reasoning, calculating, wondering, deliberating, and deciding. Today, the internet enabled leaders to have vast amounts of information. Similar to Wiener (1954), leaders process this boundless information and make decisions. However, in processing the information, the dark side tempts some leaders. Moor (1985) explains computers provided humans with new capabilities, which, in turn, gave humans new choices for action. In the case of computer crimes, people make poor moral decisions while processing the information. Moreover, the internet provides criminals anonymity (The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, 2008). Under the mask of the internet, criminals are apt to take more risks compared to if they had to show their face. At the end of the day, internet crime comes down to the leader’s moral character. To illustrate, investors trust the author’s organization to safeguard not only their assets but their confidential information. His CEO often states one violation such as a lost social security number of our shareholder’s trust would hurt the entire organization. Thus, security of the company’s website and confidentiality of the investor’s private information is critical to his organization.
Greed such as identity theft or fraud and downright evil such as cyber-terrorism, child predators, and child pornography motivate computer criminals. In turn, the Federal Government has strategies to stop these computer crimes. For example, the FBI leads the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, a group of 19 intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies to prevent future terrorists attacks (Clayton, 2013). With rapid change in technologies, computer criminals appear to be one-step ahead of the law. Vigilant citizens are the best defense to computer crimes. What do you think?
Business ID Theft website. (n.d.). http://www.businessidtheft.org/Education/BusinessIDTheftScams/CyberCrime/tabid/107/Default.aspx
Clayton, M. (2013). FBI as cyber crime sleuth: Is it any match for computer bad guys? Retrieved from http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/2013/1118/FBI-as-cyber-crime-sleuth-Is-it-any-match-for-computer-bad-guys
Department of Justice website. (n.d.). http://www.justice.gov
Family Watchdog website. (n.d.). http://www.familywatchdog.us/
Federal Trade Commission website. (2003). http://www.ftc.gov/os/2003/09/synovatereport.pdf
Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.
Moor, J. (1985). What is computer ethics? Metaphilosophy, 16(4), 266-275.
The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. (2008). http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-computer/
Webopedia website. (n.d.). http://www.webopedia.com
Weisbaum, H. (2013). Fraud alert: How to prevent holiday-related identify theft. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/business/fraud-alert-how-prevent-holiday-related-identity-theft-2D11603379
Wiener, N. (1954). The human use of human beings: cybernetics and society (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Doubleday Anchor.