Computer Crime


A young man sits illuminated only by the light of a computer screen. His
fingers dance across the keyboard. While it appears that he is only word
processing or playing a game, he may be committing a felony.

In the state of Connecticut, computer crime is defined as: 53a-251. Computer
Crime
(a) Defined. A person commits computer crime when he violates any of the
provisions of this section.
(b) Unauthorized access to a computer system. (1) A person is guilty of the
computer crime of unauthorized access to a computer system when, knowing that he
is not authorized to do so, he accesses or causes the be accessed any computer
system without authorization...
(c) Theft of computer services. A person is guilty of the computer crime o f
theft of computer services when he accesses or causes to be accessed or
otherwise uses or causes to be used a computer system with the intent to obtain
unauthorized computer services.
(d) Interruption of computer services. A person is guilty of the computer
crime of interruption of computer services when he, without authorization,
intentionally or recklessly disrupts or degrades or causes the disruption or
degradation of computer services or denies or causes the denial of computer
services to an authorized user of a computer system.
(e) Misuse of computer system information. A person is guilty of the computer
crime of misuse of computer system information when: (1) As a result of his
accessing or causing to be accessed a computer system, he intentionally makes or
causes to be made an unauthorized display, use, disclosure or copy, in any form,
of data residing in, communicated by or produced by a computer system.

Penalties for committing computer crime range from a class B misdemeanor to a
class B felony. The severity of the penalty is determined based on the monetary
value of the damages inflicted. (2)

The law has not always had much success stopping computer crime. In 1990 there
was a nationwide crackdown on illicit computer hackers, with arrests, criminal
charges, one dramatic show-trial, several guilty pleas, and huge confiscations
of data and equipment all over the USA.

The Hacker Crackdown of 1990 was larger, better organized, more deliberate, and
more resolute than any previous efforts. The U.S. Secret Service, private
telephone security, and state and local law enforcement groups across the
country all joined forces in a determined attempt to break the back of
America\'s electronic underground. It was a fascinating effort, with very mixed
results.

In 1982, William Gibson coined the term "Cyberspace". Cyberspace is defined as
"the "place" where a telephone conversation appears to occur. Not inside your
actual phone, the plastic device on your desk... The place between the phones.
The indefinite place out there." (1, p. 1)

The words "community" and "communication" share the same root. Wherever one
allows many people to communicate, one creates a community. “Cyberspace” is as
much of a community as any neighborhood or special interest group. People will
fight more to defend the communities that they have built then they would fight
to protect themselves.

This two-sided fight truly began when the AT&T telephone network crashed on
January 15, 1990.

The crash occurred due to a small bug in AT&T\'s own software. It began with a
single switching station in Manhattan, New York, but within ten minutes the
domino effect had brought down over half of AT&T\'s network. The rest was
overloaded, trying to compensate for the overflow.

This crash represented a major corporate embarrassment. Sixty thousand people
lost their telephone service completely. During the nine hours of effort that
it took to restore service, some seventy million telephone calls went
uncompleted.

Because of the date of the crash, Martin Luther King Day (the most politically
touchy holiday), and the absence of a physical cause of the destruction, AT&T
did not find it difficult to rouse suspicion that the network had not crashed
by itself- that it had been crashed, intentionally. By people the media has
called hackers.

Hackers define themselves as people who explore technology. If that technology
takes them outside of the boundaries of the law, they will do very little about
it. True hackers follow a "hacker\'s ethic", and never damage systems or leave
electronic "footprints" where they have been.

Crackers are hackers who use their skills to damage other people\'s systems or
for personal gain. These people, mistakenly referred to as hackers by the media,
have been sensationalized in recent years.

Software pirates, or warez dealers, are people who traffic in pirated software
(software that is illegally copied and distributed). These people