One of the first movies to predict the impact computers would have upon the world was “Sneakers.” The film was released in 1992 by
MCA/Universal Pictures and revolves around a team of
renegade hackers who test security systems. One of the
characters, Cosmo (played by Ben Kingsley), prophetically said:
“The world isn’t run by weapons anymore, or energy, or
money. It’s run by ones and zeros—little bits of data—it’s all
electrons.... There’s a war out there, a world war. It’s not
about who has the most bullets. It’s about who controls the
information—what we see and hear, how we work, what we
think. It’s all about information.”
He was certainly correct when he said “It’s all about
who controls the information.” Since the movie’s release,
the pervasiveness of computers has expanded primarily
from government, academia and business entities to
universal usage by virtually everyone on earth. Along
with their exponential growth has been their nefarious
use to create a new methodology of crime. Any criminal activity dealing with a computer and a network is
defined as a cybercrime.
With virtually everyone having a computer and internet access, each day more individuals, businesses and government entities potential leave themselves vulnerable
to cybercrime. Unless a computer and its network utilize
very sophisticated security software, they could become a
target within a few minutes of connecting to the internet.
Even so-called secure networks (those not connected
to the internet) are vulnerable via negligent or slipshod
internal policies/procedures to prevent unauthorized use
of USB devices or the sharing of passwords. Once online,
an individual user’s identity can be stolen within a matter
of seconds. Not surprisingly, the prevalence of cybercrime
has surpassed drug trafficking in terms of the amount of
money generated. So, why use a computer to commit a
crime? Contrast the ease of committing a cybercrime vs.
the risks involved in trying to sell drugs on a street corner
or robbing a bank:
1. It offers the criminal privacy and easy concealment
of any evidence that can be easily deleted.
2. It can be done quietly at a keyboard while online at
home or connected to public WiFi.
3. It provides the criminal with anonymity when using
a text-only interface.
4. Information or data can be stored anywhere in the
world via the cloud.
Computer Crime Categories
Generally speaking, cybercrimes can be grouped into
four broad categories:
1) Crimes in which the computer is the target
Since computers store data or information, they often
become targets for hackers (who can be individuals,
groups of individuals or state-sponsored entities). Some
examples of the types of cybercrimes being committed
A. Theft of intellectual property (original research,
patent information, etc.)
B. Marketing information theft (customer lists, preferences, etc.)
C. Blackmail (theft of personal histories, emails, medical information, etc.)
D. Sabotage (of programs, operating systems, and the
stored data itself)
E. Techno-trespass (accessing a computer and/or network just to explore files.) Although this appears
benign, there is no such thing as “ethical hacking,” which some believe is beneficial and useful.
Unauthorized access to someone’s computer and/
or network is illegal.
F. Techno-vandalism (access that can result in
damage to files, programs or servers. This includes
many of the cybercrimes that seem to make daily
• Hacking itself, including the use of ransomware,
which is a type of malware that infects a computer and restricts access to the users’ files and/or
threatens the permanent destruction of those files
unless a ransom is paid.
• Network intrusions: accessing criminal justice,
government, and corporate databases and records
• Virus distribution
• E-mail bombing
• Denial of Service attacks involving spam, which
forensic insider Digital DIGITAL FORENSIC INVESTIGATION
John J. Barbara