Computer crime is broadly defined as unauthorized access to, use of, alteration of, or taking of another person's computer systems or files. This activity is illegal even if the person does not intend to do any harm.

Corporate and government computer systems are the most popular targets of computer crime. Some people who work for corporations or the government may try to sell information to business rivals or foreign governments. Others may use computers to embezzle money.

Most of those who gain unauthorized access to computer systems are "hackers." Hackers, sometimes high-school or college-age persons, intentionally try to break into computer systems. Once hackers enter a system, they usually look at confidential or classified files. Occasionally, a hacker may copy a file and distribute it Hackers annually cause an estimated $1 billion worth of damage to computer files. There is disagreement on how hackers should be punished. Many persons feel that hackers are dangerous and should receive jail terms and pay large fines like other white-collar criminals. Others argue that hackers break into systems as a hobby, do not intend any harm, and can be rehabilitated.

Some hackers release "viruses" or "worms" into computer systems. Viruses are computer programs designed to play practical jokes or destroy data and damage computer files. Worms are designed to slow down computer systems but not to destroy data. Both viruses and worms are prohibited by computer crime laws.

The federal government (USA) has also been carefully watching computer bulletin board systems. Bulletin boards allow users to exchange computer files and messages using computers and modems. Some of these bulletin boards make commercial software programs available to users. However, making the programs available without the publisher's permission is illegal.

Another type of computer crime occurs when someone illegally copies software he or she has purchased. Software companies lose over $2 billion each year to illegal copying. A person who opens a software package is agreeing to use the software on one computer only. This person is allowed to make copies of the software only to use as a backup. Placing software on more than one computer without the publisher's permission is illegal and violates federal copyright laws. The violator is subject to a possible jail term and a fine of up to $250,000. Violators can include individuals, businesses, and schools.

Despite the attention given to computer crimes, most probably go unreported. Many companies are reluctant to publicize their vulnerability to computer criminals. Also, many are discouraged by the resources and time needed to prosecute individuals.



  1. Advantages of Computer Data Processing.
  2. Advantages of Computer Data Processing.
  3. Business Law and Business Crime
  4. Computer Crime
  5. Computer Instructions
  6. Computer Programmer
  8. Computers
  9. Computers
  10. Computers in my life
  11. Crime. Causes of Crime

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