It's the weekend, you have nothing to do so you decide to play around on your computer. You turn it on and then start up, you start calling people with your modem, connecting to another world, with people just like you at a button press away. This is all fine but what happens when you start getting into other peoples computer files. Then it becomes a crime, but what is a computer crime really, obviously it involves the use of a computer but what are these crimes.
Well they are: Hacking, Phreaking, & Software Piracy.
To begin I will start with Hacking, what is hacking. Hacking is basically using your computer to "Hack" your way into another. They use programs called scanners which randomly dials numbers any generating tones or carriers are recorded. These numbers are looked at by hackers and then used again, when the hacker calls up the number and gets on he's presented with a logon prompt, this is where the hacking really begins, the hacker tries to bypass this anyway he knows how to and tries to gain access to the system. Why do they do it, well lets go to a book and see "Avid young computer hackers in their preteens and teens are frequently involved in computer crimes that take the form of trespassing, invasion of privacy, or vandalism. Quite often they are mearly out for a fun and games evening, and they get entangled in the illegal use of their machines without realizing the full import of what they are doing" , I have a hard time believing that so lets see what a "hacker" has to say about what he does "Just as they were enthraled with their pursuit of information, so are we. The thrill of the hack is not in breaking the law, it's in the pursuit and capture of knowledge." , as you can see the "hacker" doesn't go out to do destroy things although some do. It's in the pursuit of knowledge. Of course this is still against the law. But where did all of this start, MIT is where hacking started the people there would learn and explore computer systems all around the world. In the views of professional hacking is like drugs or any other addictive substance, it's an addiction for the mind and once started it's difficult to stop. This could be true, as hackers know what they are doing is wrong and they know odds are they will be caught. But as I mentioned some hackers are just above average criminals, using there skills to break in banks and other places where they can get money, or where they can destroy information. What a hacker does at a bank is take a few cents or even a few fractions of a cents from many different accounts this may seem like nothing but when all compiled can be alot. A stick up robber averages about $8,000 each "job", and he has to put his life and personal freedom on the line to do it while the computer hacker in the comfort of his own living room averages $500,000 a "job". As for people destroying information, this is for taking some one down, destruction of data could end a business which for some is very attractive. It can cost a company thousands of dollars to restore the damage done.
Now that you have an understanding of what a "hacker" is, it time to move on to someone closely associates with a hacker. This is a Phreak, but what is that. For the answer we turn to the what is known as the "Official" Phreakers Manual "Phreak [fr'eek]
- The action of using mischievous and mostly illegal ways in order to not pay for some sort of telecommunications bill, order, transfer, or other service. It often involves usage of highly illegal boxes and machines in order to defeat the security that is set up to avoid this sort of happening. [fr'eaking]
- A person who uses the above methods of destruction and chaos in order to make a better life for all. A true phreaker will not go against his fellows or narc on people who have ragged on him or do anything termed to be dishonourable to phreaks. [fr'eek]
- A certain code or dialup useful in the action of being a phreak. (Example: "I hacked a new metro phreak last night.")"
The latter 2 ideas of what a phreak is, is rather weird. A Phreak like the hacker likes to explore and experiment, however his choice of exploring is not other computer but the phone system as a whole. Phreaks explore the phone system finding many different ways to do things, most often make free calls. Why do they do this, " A hacker and phreaker will have need to use telephone systems much more than an average individual, therefore, methods which can be used to avoid toll charges are in order. " . A phreak has two basic ways of making free calls, he can call up codes or PBXs on his phone and then enter a code and make his call or he can use Electronic Toll Fraud Devices. Codes are rather easy to get the phreak will scan for them, but unlike a hacker will only save the tone(s) number instead of the carrier(s). Then he will attempt to hack the code to use it, these codes range from numbers 0 - 9 and can be any length, although most are not more than 10. Electronic Toll Fraud Devices are known as Boxes in the underground. Most are the size of a pack of smokes, or than can be smaller or bigger. I will not go too deep. They are electronic devices than do various things, such as make outgoing calls free, make incoming calls free, simulate coins dropping in a phone, etc. People who "Phreak" are caught alot these days thanks to the new technology.
Software Piracy is the most common computer crime, it is the illegal coping of software. "People wouldn't think of shoplifting software from a retail store, but don't think twice about going home and making several illegal copies of the same software." and this is true because I myself am guilty of this. The major problem is not people going out and buying the software then making copies for everyone, it's the Bulletin Boards that cater to pirating software, that really cause the problem. On anyone one of these boards one can find an upwards of 300 - 1000+ of pirated software open for anyone to take. This is a problem and nothing can really be done about it. Few arrests are made in this area of computer crime.
I will now devote a brief section to the above mentioned BBS' , most are legal and do nothing wrong. However there are many more that do accept pirated software, pornographic pictures, animations , and texts. As well as a trading area for phone codes, other BBS', Credit Card numbers, etc. This is where a majority of Hackers and Phreaks come, as well as those who continue to pirate software come to meet and share stories. In this is a new world, where you can do anything, there are groups that get, crack, and courier software all over the world some of them are called: INC: International Network Of Crackers, THG: The Humble Guys, TDT: The Dream Team. As well a number of other groups have followed suit such as Phalcon/SKISM (Smart Kids Into Sick Methods), NuKE, and YAM (Youngsters Against McAfee) these are virus groups who write and courier their work anywhere they can, they just send it somewhere, where anyone can take it and use it in any manner they wish, such as getting even with someone. All of these activities are illegal but nothing can be done, the people running these boards know what they are doing. As it stands right now, the BBS world is in two parts Pirating and the Underground, which consists of Hackers/Phreaks/Anarchists/Carders(Credit Card Fraud)/Virus programmers. All have different boards and offer a variety of information on virtually any subject.
Well from all of this reading you just did you should have a fairly good idea of what computer crime is. I didn't mention it in the sections but the police, phone companies are arresting and stopping alot of things every day. With the new technology today it is easier to catch these criminals then it was before. With the exception of the BBS' the police have made some major blows busting a few BBS', arresting hackers and phreaks. All of which were very looked up to for knowledge in their areas of specialty. If I had more time I could go into these arrests but I must finish by saying that these are real crimes and the sentences are getting harsher, with alot of the older people getting out the newer people are getting arrested and being made examples of. This will deter alot of would-be computer criminal away.