Cyber crime, or eCrime, is a worldwide problem that goes beyond consumer fraud. It has a direct impact on the security of every country that uses the Internet. For those reasons, there has been an international effort to enact laws to punish attacks on personal, corporate and government computers – for whatever reason.
In the United States the most current statute is 18 U.S.C. 1030. The language in Section 1030 is part of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and makes it a federal crime to:
“intentionally access a computer without authorization” and thereby obtain information contained in a financial record or of a credit card user or contained in the file of a financial institution”
Section 1030 further defines the scope of the act to include, “knowingly and with the intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer.”
How prevalent is cyber crime? The results of a Gallup Poll released on December 13, 2010 indicate that 11 percent of those polled knew someone or had personally been the victim of a computer attack – an increase of eight percent from a previous poll on the same question.
In 2009 alone, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 336,665 computer attack complaints in the United States – a 22.3 percent increase over 2008. Of the complaints, 146,663 were turned over to law enforcement for action. The financial loss from the attacks referred to law enforcement agencies amounted to $559.7 million, an increase of $264.6 million over 2008′s total.
Cyber crime does not recognize international boundaries and it is difficult to track the criminal activity back to its source. While an attack may originate in a country half way around the world, it travels through several zombie computers and server before reaching its mark.
Governments affected by cyber crime realize that fighting and prosecuting computer attacks will require a concerted and coordinated effort by agencies in every country.