5.31.2011

Cyber Crimes -- Hackers and Digital Theft

image obtained from yahoo
Article by Scott Hall



     Hackers invade Sony’s gaming network, Lockheed Martin and most recently, PBS.  The latest Headline in a long line of headlines about “unlocked” information, passwords, profile’s, and account information.  The world of technology changes almost daily, and with it, the need for security against malicious and purposeful attacks.  While hacker’s themselves seem to be this mysterious group of people who have the ability to vest some of the best security measures, they are in fact criminals.

     Most citizens, until recently may have thought a hacker was someone who has the ability to save the world from certain destruction by cracking into a launch system to stop the timer with just under one second or so to go.   One of the first memorable “hacker” moments from Hollywood, might be the movie War Games.  Hollywood probably wouldn’t know what to do if suddenly, on one of their sets, without warning, a voice coming over a PA says, “Shall we play a game?” while they see the lighting dim and hear the audio go crazy.  While it sounds comical, make no mistake, it does infringe on our rights to reasonable privacy.

     Right to reasonable privacy itself, is not mentioned in the constitution as a specific right, however, over the years the US Supreme Court has used the ninth amendment as a reference and has made rulings in the matters of infringed privacy, such as Griswold and Eisenstaedt  (contraception ruling), Roe v Wade (abortion, right to life ruling).  Hackers themselves in the early years of the term, were pretty much responsible for programming operating systems, perfecting websites, and creating the possible out of the impossible on networks promoting efficiency within a workgroup. 

     When a website is “hacked”, a breach of security has taken place on a server that operates a system, usually for a corporation.  On some servers, pertinent information to the company and / or its customers may be stored, and some of that data may include social security numbers, bank account information, or other sensitive material. When a hacker uses this information for personal gain, it is a crime.    

     The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, insures that whomever is caught “hacking”, can be subject to a wide variety of punishments, including but not limited to fines and imprisonment.  Essentially meaning, once those persons are caught and convicted, they get to learn to try and “hack” through prison bars.  Part of the trouble in catching these thieves of data, is not only can they program and steal info, they can also set up “zombie” computers that will do the work for them from sites other than their own.  The United States as well as other countries have developed counter intelligence firms, that collect data, monitor systems and networks and do their best to prevent malicious attacks from both computers and potential terrorist threats.

    In conclusion, when we are wronged, there are several  avenues we should follow in order to obtain the justice or corrective measures we seek.  Hiring a savvy computer programmer to “hack” into a site, exploit data of citizens whom are innocent is an illegal practice that can carry a long prison term and fines.  Be diligent in defense of your computer by using firewalls and alpha-numeric passwords, and while these items alone are no guarantee of cyber safety, they do provide some peace of mind.  If you are still unsure of what to do when “hacked” consult a legal professional for advice.
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