Computer Science in Criminal Justice Research Paper:
As technology has become more and more advanced so have criminals. In order to keep of with these new crimes officers need to know about them and know about ways to stop them. This paper will cover three topics, which every new officer should know about; common computer crimes, computer use in computer crime investigations and computers in police cars.
2 Common Computer Crimes
With the advent of computers, there came a whole new category of crime. Not only do computers allow for new types of crime, but they also provide new avenues for all types of crime. This section will cover some of the more common crimes that involve computers.
2.1 Child Pornography / Solicitation
There are many way in which computers are used in the sexual exploitation of children. Some of those ways include when users knowingly sends or receives pornographic images of children, accessing computer bulletin boards or chat rooms and knowingly downloading images, or using chat rooms and groups to lure minors into sexual conversations (Offenders, Aug 2000). After a recent Supreme Court case the Supreme Court ruled that banning “Virtual Child Pornography” was unconstitutional since no children were harmed in the act. However, Ashcroft was worried about with the advances in computer technology that it is becoming hard to tell if the Child Pornography if “Virtual” or not. (Ashcroft vs. Free Speech Coalition, April 2002)
SPAM, which is also called unsolicited commercial e-mail, is something that almost everyone who has an e-mail address gets. What most people don’t realize is that it is a crime. The problem with most SPAM is that it is very hard to trace because may places that use it use “ghost servers” which disguise or hid the senders IP address.
2.3 Software Piracy
KaZaA, Morphious, and limewire, are all examples of peer-to-peer software whose main use it to “trade” files between computers. The problem is that much of the software and other files that are “traded” are copyrighted, and are not authorized to be given to anyone other than the person who had bought the item. So lets say what you wanted a copy of Windows XP you could simply go onto one of these programs, type in the name of the software that you want, and start downloading it. Not only are these sites causing software companies to loose money since Internet users can download a copy for free, they are also allowing people to download Hacks to copyrighted programs which will create a new serial number for that software so you don’t have to buy it.
2.4 Cyber-stalking / Cyber-spying
Everyday the number of sites that will help you find a lost loved one or an old roommate that you have lost touch with increases. The problem with that is when people start to use it for stalking purposes. Not only is it possible to find out where a person lives, you can find out almost an unlimited amount of info on a person without their consent. For example I wanted to know how old my CJ professor was, so I went to a site called www.USsearch.com, all I gave that site was his first and last name and his approximate age, and there were able to give me that my professor was 61 years of age, lived in Grand Rapids and his middle name is Thomas.
Not only are does the Internet make it easier to you it also makes it easier to see what you are doing. A very simple computer program called a packet sniffer, which can be downloaded off the Internet, will allow an individual to see what everyone else on his network is doing on the Internet, without possibility of detection. In hub network, when ever a computer sends out a packet of information out to the Internet every other computer in that network also receives that same packet, but the computers choose to ignore it because the packet is not addressed to them. But, what a packet sniffer does is it instructs the computer not to ignore all the packets being sent and to display them for their own use.
3 Computer Use in Computer Crime Investigations
Now that we have gone over some of the most common computer crimes, we need to go over ways to stop/detect them. This section will cover some simple ways in which officers can fight computer related crimes.
3.1 Reverse Tracing
Everything that leaves your computer leaves some kind of information on where it came from. The most common type of trace information is something called in IP address. Every computer that is connected to the Internet has an IP address; it is kind of like your computers phone number on the Internet. Just the IP address alone will give you a good hint on where an E-Mail came from. For example lets say that you get an E-Mail from a person with an IP address of 188.8.131.52. 146.61 means that it was sent from GVSU, 120 means that it was sent from Stafford Living Center, and 10 is the computer it self. Now from just looking at the IP address and nothing else we have found that the person lives in Stafford Living Center at GVSU. But, what if you are unsure of what server a particular IP address belongs to? Well then you uses a packet-tracing program that will find it for you. For example a program called Visual Route will show you visibly on a map where the E-Mail came from and how it got to you, and it will tell you the server that they are on so that you can contact that system administrator to get more info on that person.
3.2 Packet Sniffers
Although packet sniffers are very commonly used for malicious purposes they can also serve a very helpful role in law enforcement. They allow law enforcement to see everything that is going in or out of a particular computer, including the IP addresses of those accessing it. So lets say that GVSU was being hacked, and the FBI arrived while the hacker was still in the system, the FBI could then use a packet sniffer program to see who was accessing that system.
3.3 Network File Sharing
It is not uncommon for computer users to share files on their network, wither or not they know they are sharing them. If an individual is sharing files on their computer it is then possible for an officer to see what they are sharing without violating their privacy since they are publicly sharing the files. Lets say that it was rumored that an individual was dealing in child pornography. An officer could with the network owners permission hook up a computer of is own, or use another computer on the network, to see if that individual was sharing files on the network, it they were the officer could just do a file search to see if they have any suspiciously named files, i.e. searching for jpg files.
Carnivore is a system designed by the FBI to allow law enforcement agencies to intercept and filter E-Mails from criminals. Just like when using wiretaps, officers can only use the system when a Federal Court Order authorizes them to do so. This system works by looking through possible criminals e-mail for key words that may indicate that they may be doing something illegal. (Carnivore, 2002)
4 Computers in Police Cars (At GVSU at least)
Computers not only assist in investigations they also assist in every day police work. For this section I interviewed a GVSU police officer (Officer Sanderson) on the computer system in her vehicle.
4.1 Currently able to do
GVSU’s current system is able to do many things that an officer would have not been able to do in the past. It allows for the officers to be able to send another officer an instant text message, to see who else is on duty in the area they are in, or the county and who is currently on a stop. When an officer is about to pull over a vehicle it allows them to input the vehicle├втВмтДвs license plate, and it will give the officer all the info on the registered driver of that car, if the car is reported stolen, and if that car has ever been in a drunk driving incident. Once an officer stops a car and gets the drivers information, the officer is then able to run that persons drivers license (Even if that person doesn’t have it on them). Once they have that person interred into the computer, the officer is then able to see their driving record, if they have a concealed weapons permit, and their criminal record.
4.2 Soon to be able to do
In the not to distant future GVSU’s system is going to be able to pull up the picture of the person that they are looking up, and it will have the ability to swipe the card, instead of manually entering the drivers license number.
Increased technology in many was is a double edged sward, it allows for better police investigations, while creating more way for people to commit crimes. I hope that this paper gave you a better understanding of common computer crimes, simple ways of fighting computer crimes, and the computers in police vehicles.
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