Criminal Justice 16
Joseph L. Keyes
High Technology Crime
High technology crime
This paper discusses the categories of high technological crimes, platforms on which the crimes are committed and the impacts these crimes have on the victims of technological crimes.
Ever since the invention of technology, individuals have been continuously victims of technology crimes either as objects of abuse or the vessels of commissions of crimes. This paper describes what a high technology crime entails, the problems facing investigation of the hi-tech crimes and the possible solutions to the issues facing investigation of hi-tech crimes. In the conclusions, the paper analyses a variety of ways through which one can survive being a victim of hi-tech crimes.
Also known as, computer crimes or cybercrimes, high technology crimes refers online crimes that are conducted using digitally based gadgets such as mobile phones, tablets and computer on various social medias and a variety of games where people view and share content.
Hi-tech crimes can be traditional crime which are computer aided and include selling or buying of illegal drugs, selling pornography films to underage individuals, illegal gambling, internet fraud, and sharing hate publications and propaganda. Another category of technology crimes entails offence such as distributing computer viruses, and hacking onto another computer. These crimes are usually targeting a computer network or the machine itself (“Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice,” n.d.).
Over the past few years, investigation of hi tech crimes continues to be intense, often by professionals of technology crimes. With this increase in cyber security, it has been realized that offence involving computers, whether as a tool used in carrying out attacks or a target of victimization, raise unresolved practical and legal problems and are generally hard to investigate. Complaints always arise due to the transnational nature of the activities involved which, consequently, requires corporation from investigators of the crimes.
How technology crimes are carried out
Digital technologies has made it relatively easier to impersonate someone, misinterpret one’s identity or to completely hide one’s identity. With an anonymous person communicating to individuals, it is impossible to know the person sending the messages. The messages are stripped off identification or are encrypted and assigned unknown identity so that it is almost impossible to track the user’s communication thread.
Problems involved in investigating computer crimes
Identification of suspects
Problem of suspect identification are often solved by traditional investigative methods such as collecting indirect evidence or use of video surveillance so as to provide proof that the accused was at the place where the crime took place at a particular day and time. The method of monitoring is however, not always successful and raises problems that exist even in non-digital environments.
These problems are existing mostly in business and finance world where more than one users have access to a particular work terminal and where password access are known and shared among colleague than they are prevalent in private homes where evidence might be used to identify who used a computer at a particular day and time.
Some professional investigators of technology crimes have started using biometric systems such as fingerprint scanners to access personal computers and other digital devices in order to identify the users of a network. Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples can also be gathered from the computer keyboard that has been used for knowing the user of a specific computer. Although the use of biometric authentication system reduces the problem of anonymity, it does not give guaranteed security from identification problem as one may log in after another person has used the same computer to log on without the person’s authorization (“Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice,” n.d.).
Another question arises when there is need to link the time when the suspect was using a laptop to a biometric authenticated evidence of the suspect’s whereabouts at a specific time since it is not possible to time-stamp the fingerprints or the DNA to the used computer.
According to Brian 2014, Investigators have a problematic problem decrypting data content that has been encrypted and where the accused is not willing to provide the password or the decryption code. Other than provision of a decryption key, encrypted content may be accessed by installing a program used to decrypt the logging password used by the accused without his/her knowledge(p. 33). This program installation requires a legalized warranty. In some countries, investigators are legally allowed to criminalize an individual with a know-how of computer network who refuses to corporate at giving information about the decryption keys or provide passwords.
In cases where the suspect is a citizen of a different country other than one from which the criminal hearing is to take place, the person could be extradited to stand a trial. This process might be however tricky thus making application of the extradition slow and equally costly since it requires an appropriate existing treaty between the nations involved as well as criminalizing the act in both the countries. The concept of dual criminality is often not the case in hi-tech crime (Brian, 2014, p. 35). Thus the process of extradition may at times fail and the criminal escape justice despite the damage caused.
Choosing the appropriate jurisdiction
The hi-tech crime investigative unit faces a significant challenge when it comes to deciding what kind of court to deal with the proceedings of a digital based crime in instances where the accused and the victim are from different geographical areas. A problem of extradition is likely to be avoided where the charges are filed in the nationality where the offender is located. If, however, the charges are pressed from the nation in which the victim originates. Extraditions may make prosecution almost impossible as there are only some of the elements of the crime occurring within a universal jurisdiction.
Another problem also arises in instances where an offense is criminalized in many countries, but none wants to take responsible action of convicting the criminal which is also referred to as negative international jurisdiction. A reverse problem also occurs when many countries want to prosecute an offense because of its noteworthiness. Solution to such issues is arrived at when the protocols of setting how jurisdiction is determined and negotiation of authority is determined. A general rule that allows a country that declines the extradition of an offender and has the power to take action should take the required measures.
Seizure and search
Data from a computer can be obtained using two criteria
• The physical search of the place where the computer system is used to collect data
• Monitoring and interception of data being transmitted to, within or from the system
A clear distinction is required because access to computers remotely via the internet may cause extraction of data, to sum up to the interception of telecommunication which may need a legalized warranty. Technical issues arise in acquiring digitalized evidence in technological crime cases. Computers have however made it easier by enabling remote searches via online (Brian, 2014, p. 40).
Legalized warrants may require to be executed simultaneously in different nations to make sure that suspects do not unanimously agree to destroy or alter the evidence. For this, the high technology crimes need to be carefully coordinated, an act that has been successfully done with the police department in the last few years.
Retention of the gathered evidence by the investigators is not a problem to be overlooked. If the police seize an illegal content, it would be impossible to return the content to the accused person as that would mean distributing obscene materials illegally.
Mutual assistance agreements are usually used when there is need to enhance international criminal investigations. The treaties provide legal access for investigators from one country to gain access to the evidence of an offense in another nation with the authorization of the state. The content activities of the treaties include;
• Location and identification of the suspect
• Gathering evidence, documents, and articles
• Commissioning search and seizure request operations
• Confiscating proceeds of the alleged crime
Although the existence of transnational technological crimes increases the difficulties associated with the application of the mutual assistance treaties are likely to increase, it is difficult to convey direct requests for assistance if the person does not know who to seek assistance from directly (Kevin & Jane, 2016, p. 16). It is also difficult to directly send documents since emails can only be faxed to a court tribunal or in emergencies.
Generation of evidence in computer crimes using the formal mutual assistant agreement between countries can be severely ineffective and slow. In most cases, searches and seizures require immediate conduction to retain the evidence available on the computer system memories. The process of waiting for grant of access to the evidence for diplomatic and official procedures to be carried out is, therefore, time-consuming.
The cost incurred during the operation of the mutual assistant agreement is a responsibility of the party offering the assistance. The expense is therefore expensive for small countries assisting developed nations but do not ask for aid in return hence the small states are cutting the costs of the legal process that the large countries request from the small countries.
Practical and logistical barriers
Investigations conducted across country borders causes many practical complications that increase the cost of and reduce the efficiency of the inquiry. Different countries have different priorities concerning the significance of high technology investigations. Computer crimes in states that have more pressing issues such as drought or war are in the lowest position in the hierarchy of priorities. In such a situation, request for assistant may be irresponsive to the applications and thus give them the lowest priorities.
The level of responsiveness to the assistant request sent also depends significantly on the corporative action history of a country. The ones with no history of corporative are always in the lowest position of a country’s bucket list as cited in the journal of Kevin & Jane, 2016, (p. 17).
Other practical and logistical barriers to a compelling investigation of hi-tech crimes include;
• Witnesses with different native languages need assistance to translate to a universal language which could slow down the process of investigation and equally expensive.
• Investigators have to meet the people from different part of the globe at an inconvenient time.
• Documents written in foreign languages are to be translated into English especially if they are required for diplomatic purposes.
Solutions to the problems that hinder efficient investigations of the high technology crimes
The issues that come with the investigation of technology crimes can be solved by advancing the technical prowess of the investigators, harmonizing procedures and laws all around the globe and sharing of information and evidence between the private and the public sector thus improving international cooperation among investigators globally.
Together with harmonization of laws, the continued acceptance of the international conventions regarding high technology crime, organized and transnational crimes are predicted to ease the prosecution process and enhance the extradition of offenders as well.
Hi-tech investigation across nation borders require professional technical and forensic skills. Investigative tools are therefore needed to be advanced, and the investigators undergo technical as well as forensic training across and between different country borders to reduce the level of difference in the investigative techniques used across different nation borders.
Request of mutual assistance and the cost that comes with it may be a burden to a developing country, and therefore only the cases with a greater magnitude are granted mutual assistance leaving every other with lesser size unattended for. This can be avoided by sharing the cost of investigating the crimes between the private and public sectors of the economy.
This can be done by establishing high tech crime units in the law enforcement services or by outsourcing forensic tasks to accounting consultancy agencies with previously police-trained employees.
Information sharing within investigators is paramount for efficient and effective investigation of the high technology crimes. Clarity and openness are therefore strongly advised among investigators in both the private and public sector. Professional skills do considerably exist in telecommunication industries, intellectual property and finance around the globe as well as consulting and accounting agencies. With all the combined expertise, the investigation process is significantly supplemented and equally made efficient in the law enforcement of the public sector (Tony, 2017, p. 16). With adequate and relevant information about hi-tech crimes, it is important that investigators be ready and well placed to the massive range of difficulties that the high technology crimes have continued to cause for the digitalized world.
Potential victims of high technology crimes
Following a research done by Gareth, 2018, the increasing ease of internet access to underage children and teens and the rising rates of the technological crime, the most targeted population is children and teens. The digital criminals often use the online platform to capture unaware children and teens and victimize them of sexual violation or even distributing illicit content to them and extorting money from them in return. The continuous evolving and change of the internet makes the predators come up with an equally advanced technique of victimizing children and teens.
Parental guidance and monitoring are advised so as the parents can monitor all the actions their children are taking part in as well as keep track of who their kids interact with on various social media platforms (p. 4-8). It is also advisable that the children are guided through intense education about the high technology crimes and how to avoid being victimized by the digital computer criminals.
Another group of often victimized population is women as they are regarded too weak to report or speak for themselves whenever they become victims of high technology crimes. To take care of the victimized women, the investigative units in most countries have come up with support groups that help keep the affected individuals, so the impact of being a victim is reduced when she is active in a different area.
Business entities and companies may also be victims of computer crime as their financial records, or their confidential documents may be hacked and stolen and money laundered, or they are blackmailed. The companies and the business organizations are advised to improve their securities by installing the biometric authentication systems and providing a backup log in password to all their employees.
In his article, Gareth, 2018, continues to state that other than these, anyone can be a victim of computer crimes thus it is advised to take training on internet safety and also join a program to support the ones that have been victimized and be supported should they also be victimized (p. 16).
Effects of high technology crime
The aggregated economic injury suffered when a computer crime commissioned is vast. This could cause a recess in the state of the economy in a country or even individuals to have massive debts as the impact of the crime may leave them bankrupt or incredibly financially low.
Computer criminals may also direct their attacks to business enterprises. They may try taking over the company remotely from their computers or even log in to company servers and take valuable information and use them for their benefit. They may also direct a virus or a malware to the company’s computer systems so that they do not have access to their private organizations. When this happens, the company may require to hire a computer expert to fix the problem and update their software to keep the hackers away. Consequently, this action may be extremely costly to the company or the business.
Where entertainment industry is involved, theft is a significant threat they have to look out for. Damages caused by claims from customers are extremely hard to approximate and equally hard to verify. As a tactic response, the high technology crime unit have enacted a copyright laws such as Digital Millennium Copyright Act that allow the companies within the industry to monitor people who share files online and sue those that share unauthorized data for tremendous amount of money to cover for the financial damages their activities cause to the company and the industry at large(Tony, 2017, p. 20).
Fear and paranoia
Individuals who have been victims of the technology crimes tend to live in fear and being constantly paranoid about being victimized again. Referring to a study by Tony, 2017, (p. 22) Thus they may feel powerless and may decide to cut off their social life due to mistrust of his/her friends. This may cause them to be eventually lonely and not able to trust anyone in the society they live in.
With the increasing rate of the digitalized world, there is a chance of increased high technology crime than there already is. The study of criminology in the field of computer crime is likely to escalate following the continually rising number of hi-tech crime cases. This, however also means that the technology crime investigative unit should undergo training that enables them to investigate more effectively.
As a way of avoiding being victimized, the digital users are strongly advised to review and update their software to keep the potential intruders off their computer systems.
Brian, R. L. (2014). Complete manual of white collar crime detection and prevention (5th ed., pp. 32-40). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Gareth, T. (2018). Victims of technology crimes. Digital World Magazine, pp. 4-17.
Kevin, D., & Jane, D. (2016). Investigating High-Technology Crimes. High-Technology Crime Investigator’s Handbook, 3(2), 15-22.
Maya, P., & Gabriel, K. (2015). Solutions to problems facing investigation of computer crimes. In investigating computer-related crime (2nd ed., pp. 13-39). Author.
Tony J. (2017). Spectacular computer crimes. Computer Law & Security Review, 7(1), 14-26.
Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.crime-research.org/articles/trends-and-issues-in-criminal-justice/4