Difference Between High-Tech Crime and Traditional Forms of Criminal Activity
Traditional forms of crime violate state, national, and local laws. High-tech crime (or computer crime) encompasses a wide variety of criminal activities that also breach state, or federal laws, but is done so through the computer, including hacking, software piracy, malware, electronic money laundering, harassment, and even identity theft.
The difference between high tech crime and traditional forms of crime include technology allowing individuals to commit traditional types of crime without leaving their home. Another difference is individuals who are involved in computer crimes have the ability to commit criminal acts across state lines, or even across international boundaries, often time making it impossible to prosecute. An illegal act performed via the internet in one state, might not be illegal in another.
Four types of high tech crimes in relation to traditional crimes include the following:
1) Identity theft is a high tech crime that can be compared to its traditional counterpart of larceny. Identity theft involves stealing an individual's personal information, and then using it maliciously. Identity theft occurs on the internet, as well as in person. Criminals have been known to steal information through a variety of personal ways, including sifting through people's garbage, or using a mobile phone, and taping an individual typing in their ATM number. Compared to victims of traditional larceny, identity theft victims are most likely not to know who their 'attacker' was. Like larceny, identity theft is a fast growing crime, and occurs frequently.
Larceny involves stealing a person's property. Similar to identity theft victims, most victims of larceny are not physically harmed in the process of the crime. Larceny is the most frequently occurring property offense.
2) High tech crimes that involve illegal online gambling can be compared with the traditional form of illegal gambling. In certain states, there are legalized forms of gambling, yet internet gambling allows an individual in one state, that may prohibit such acts, gamble in another state or country, in which it is legal. Again, this makes it more difficult to prosecute individuals across state or country lines. Another comparison is that traditional based casinos are government regulated, while internet gambling is unregulated, and allows for anyone to participate, including minors. As well as illegal gambling casinos, internet gambling is also a source of benefit for members of organized crime.
3) Cyber stalking is comparable to stalking a person offline, and is another criminal act that proposes problems. Cyber stalking involves using technology to intimidate, threaten, or abuse an individual online. Unlike traditional stalkers, cyber stalkers believe that they hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and nobody will know who they are. Traditional stalking includes harassment, or abuse through letters, calls, physical contact, or intimidation by showing up at various places that the victim may visit or resides. Cyber stalking and stalking are meant to instill fear in the victims. Both traditional forms of stalking and cyber stalking are harmful, and dangerous. Some individuals do not believe that cyber stalking is just as threatening to victims as traditional stalking, since the harassment is done through the computer. There needs to be more awareness among law enforcement about cyber stalking, and its potential to be just as dangerous as traditional stalking. Many individuals believe that someone can stop a cyber stalker by staying off the internet, but that is not the case. "'There have been reports, for example, that alleged victims of on-line harassment have been told by police officers, unfamiliar with the technology involved, simply to turn off their computers.'" As with other cyber crimes, jurisdiction plays a part in cyber stalking. With traditional stalking, the stalker is usually within the same proximity as the victim, but with cyber stalkers, the stalker can be on the other side of the country, or in across international borders. "This means that a potential offender may not be within the jurisdiction where an offence is committed."
4) Another high tech crime involving cyberterrorism is comparable to its more traditional form of terrorism. Traditional terroristic activity encompass directing the activities at targeted individuals, or often time, buildings. "'The FBI defines terrorism as the unlawful force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government or population in furtherance of political or social objectives.'"
Cyberterrorism involves using the internet as a means of assault through various activities, and includes wiring money to terrorist organisations, recruiting, sending virus, malware, trojans, or logic bombs, or any other activity that destroys information, or promotes terrorism. Unlike traditional terrorism, cyberterrorism allows for the recruitment of others across nations, as well as communicating plans of attack with members from all over the world, and even training.
Traditional terrorists have been known to use computers to map attacks. This allows the terrorists a level of anonymity. "...both the 1993 and 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center made use of computers in various ways, from managing communications to helping plan the attacks in depth." Both forms of terrorism can result in casualties. While traditional terrorists do not hide their attacks, and often carry out their attacks in the 'open,' cyberterrorism targets its victims in a 'sneaky' manner. For example, the United States relies on a computerized system that run networks, individuals would be vulnerable if someone hacked into any system that controlled vital resources, such as water, power, or transportation. As a result of both traditional terroristic activities and possible cyberterrorism, security has increased. "In 1998, the federal National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) was created to serve as a focal point within the U.S. government for threat assessment, warning, investigation, and response to threats or attacks against the nation's critical infrastructure."