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Feb 5th, 2015
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Investigating Computer Crimes

Chapter 16 of your text discusses computer crimes and the challenges they present to investigators.  Provide a couple of examples of computer crimes and explain how they differ from traditional crimes.  Describe the unique challenges computer crimes present to investigators.  Your discussion of challenges should include identifying and investigating the crime as well as seizing evidence.  You should also address relevant constitutional issues.  Lastly, discuss ways in which computer crimes, and the investigation of such, might impact law enforcement policy.

“A hacking group called MOD (Masters of Deception), allegedly stole passwords and technical data from Pacific Bell, Nynex, and other telephone companies as well as several big credit agencies and two major universities. The damage caused was extensive, one company, Southwestern Bell suffered losses of $370,000 alone” (Weitzer, 2003)

It is hard to believe there was life before a computers. The internet has remarkably transformed the world and made it a smaller place to live in for all users. It is also evident how internet usage is growing each day and at a high rate. However, internet usage has also created a problem for people who spend most of their time on the internet. Such problems include cyber or rather computer crimes. Cyber crime or computer crime can therefore be described as crime that is perpetrated over the internet (Becker, and Dutelle, 2013). The laws at state-level today do not address many of the situations that our police department or agencies, are encountering.

Cyber crimes are often categorized into three categories namely: crime against an individual, the government and property. Cyber crimes come in many forms.  The internet is very vulnerable to such crimes and the main reasons are: the internet offers a level of anonymity to criminals, potential access to sensitive information such as government data and personal or business data.  The main categories of computer crimes include hacking, cyber stalking, malicious software, identity theft, child abuse and soliciting and theft.

  In comparing cyber or computer crimes to traditional crimes, there are a variety of differences. To start with, traditional crime also referred to as physical crime leaves behind trails of evidence that when figured out can lead to the offender. Computer crime on the other hand, leaves no straight forward trails of evidence that can be traced back to the perpetrator of the crime forensically. The other difference is that with traditional crime, it is not likely that the offender will return to the crime scene but in the case of digital crime, sensitive information that is compromised and stolen can be used to commit further crimes. These include: passwords, usernames, social security numbers, bank account numbers among others.

  Computer crimes present unique challenges to the investigators, law enforcement agencies, the governments and court systems. This is simply because the techniques used by cyber criminals and technology are always changing, therefore this makes efforts to tackle cyber crime not effective. Some of the measures being taken by these agencies to prevent and control cyber crime include: creating cyber security awareness and encouraging digital literacy among all internet users, various governments such as the U.S are in conjunction with the financial sectors to improve and enhance network security, the U.S government has also created taskforces whose main purpose is to identify and locate international incidences of cyber crime linked to bank fraud, cyber intrusions and data breaches.  Government agencies are also seeking to better capacity and capability law enforcement agencies to address the issue and also improving the level of international involvement and contributing to global efforts to curb cyber crimes

“Computer Investigation is a constant game of catch up. A never ending world of espionage, terror, theft, and vandalism is broadened through computer crime. Beneath the serene surface of the world of computers lie depths of deception” (Becker & Dutelle, 2013, p.471). Our police departments need employees who can identify. Recruit, and train personnel that are capable of handling crimes such as cybercrime. Are we doing enough?

The National White Collar Crime Center, does offer free courses to law enforcement personnel. President George W. Bush signed into law October 26, 2001 , the Patriot Act. “The U.S. Secret Service was mandated by this legislation to establish a nationwide network of Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs)” (United States Secret Service, 2014, para.1).

The concept of the ECTF network is to bring together not only federal, state and local law enforcement, but also prosecutors, private industry and academia. The common purpose is the prevention, detection, mitigation and aggressive investigation of attacks on the nation's financial and critical infrastructures. (United States Secret Service, 2014, para.1)


Becker, R. F. & Dutelle, A. W. (2013). Criminal investigation (4th ed.) Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers

United States Secret Service: Criminal Investigations. (2014). Retrieved from www.secretservice.gov/criminal.shtml - Similar

Weitzer, Ronald (2003). Current Controversies in Criminology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education Press. p. 150.

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