ICT and the Law

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ICT and the Law 1.Cybercrime in the UK: Cybercrime, is a growing problem for law enforcement agencies worldwide; what actions can be taken against such criminal activity in the UK and are there any implications regarding an individual’s rights? Cybercrime, or ‘computer misuse’, is defined by the Computer Misuse Act 1990 as recently amended by the Police and Justice Act 2006 as ‘unauthorised access to computer material’. A person is deemed to be guilty of this crime if they have carried out activities to gain access to data without permission and they have done this with full knowledge and intent. Due to recent technological advancements that have enabled the world to become a more efficient and dynamic place, there has simultaneously been a rise in reported cyber crime in the UK and across the globe (Prasad, 2004). In addition, it has been said that there has been a shift from financial hacking to the access of sensitive business and government data with the view to blackmail and extort (BBC News, 2015). This essay is going to discuss what can be done to fight against the growing issue of cyber crime as well as assess the dangers it poses to individuals and their rights. As previously stated, cyber crime is anything that involves a computer and a network. It can range from financial scams, pornography or spreading a virus in a chain of emails (BBC News, 2015). Initially, financial gain appeared to be the motivating factor, however, more and more examples of stalking, extremist sites and politically centered attacks are being detected (Wold and Shrivers, 1990). Once more, in 2010 it was found that cyber crime targeting mobile phone devices had increased by nearly 50% (FT.com, 2011). It would seem that criminals have spotted the growth in mobile gaming, communication and applications in order to integrate and mask their scams and ultimately gain access to individuals’ private information. In 2014, several celebrities had their social media sites such as Instagram and Twitter hacked alongside their iCloud accounts through the form of phishing. These areas held personal information about and images of themselves (BBC, 2014). Many were threatened and blackmailed by the perpetrators to ultimately have the images leaked anyway. This is a prime example of the breach of an individuals’ right to private life as detailed in the European Convention on Human Rights Article 8. Once more, it also demonstrates its ability to cause reputational damage to an individual or an organisation; often a key motivator for these types of attacks (McQuade, Colt and Meyer, 2009). One of the main strategies that can be adopted to avoid the aforementioned scenario is to always check that the email is correctly addressed to the recipient. In addition, checking the sender’s email address carefully for authenticity could also reduce the propensity for responding to a falsified message. Finally, Apple, PayPal and many other Internet e-commerce sites will not ask you to verify or change any details regarding your passwords or financial information via email (Norton.com, 2015). If this advice is followed, it could significantly reduce the likelihood of damage and save the government millions in the form of compensation. In 2008 the Police Central E-Crime unit was established in an effort to counteract the rise in cyber crime in the UK. Over £600 million pounds has been invested in developing systems to prevent and detect cyber crime alongside collaboration with other countries. A very serious culture has been generated; dealing with instances of cybercrime as a tier 1 threat that can be deemed to be terrorism or classified as a ‘major incident’ (BBC, 2010). However, it has been said that many systems in place are no longer advanced enough and are subsequently incapable of being effective. The police and the law often ‘lag behind’ not necessarily being proactive but reactive in nature. It would seem that there is a real need for the arms of state to be strategically thinking of ways to counteract cybercrime. The judiciary, legislature and executive need to more effectively develop the sharing of information so as to reduce the propensity for cybercrime escalating. Another issue that perpetuates cyber crime is the difficulty in identifying where the original crime took place (KPMG International, 2011). This is further aggravated by the shortage of skilled ‘cyber crime fighters’ to detect and catch criminals at work (Parker, 1998). A possible solution to this could be for the government to channel some of their investment into training more individuals in this area (Dot-ie, 2010). However, it has to be said that the issue of cyber crime could arguably be a wider more economically driven problem. Due to levels of unemployment rising in many areas of the world, there has been a movement of talented individuals who have turned to ‘underground cyber crime’ where financial information is sold over an untraceable site (Cabinet Office and Detica, 2011). Therefore, it would seem that governments need to address basic economical issues if they are to eradicate cyber crime. Heating up the economy through investment in the public sector as well as in private businesses could arguably result in more jobs and incentives being offered to those ‘talented individuals’ as opposed to them turning to illegal means of making a living. It is the age-old issue due to lack of adequate pay in public sector jobs many feel it is not lucrative enough for them to join the career. If the demand for highly skilled employees is evident this should be reflected in the remuneration. Perhaps this is where the disparity is arising. Furthermore, it would seem that more could be done in educating people about the dangers of purchasing inauthentic products off the Internet. Downloading a pirated version as opposed to purchasing the real thing is another way cyber crime is growing. These types of programs do not contain adequate security systems but several viruses embedded within them. This makes individuals vulnerable to hacking as well as viruses damaging their systems. In 2009, the UK government introduced the ‘Cyber Security Strategy’ in an effort to help fight against the effects of cyber crime and to work in conjunction with other units to prevent the misuse of computers and the Internet. Once more, the Digital Britain Report highlighted the UK government’s interest in making the Internet a safer place to trade. In 2008, £48 billion pounds was made through online retail (House of Commons, 2013). Therefore, it is of vital importance that the UK government think of effective ways of reducing cyber crime during retail transactions. The issue of identity theft is also prevalent in relation to cyber crime. This is where criminals obtain sensitive information usually to gain access to financial data. As stated by the Home Office within the first ‘6 months of 2009 there was 43% more victims of impersonators; a 74% increase’ from the year before (Home Office, 2010, pg. 13). This is another example of where individuals and their rights to private life are affected, causing them to be victims of fraud. This in turn lowers consumer confidence in e-commerce; a potentially dangerous and damaging occurrence that could affect the health of the UK economy. Having a strong response to these crimes, collaborating with international partners and working with businesses in terms of making their sites and products more resilient to cyber crime is another strategy that can be adopted by government (Home Office, 2010). Moreover, the increase in child abuse often in the form of grooming or pornography over the Internet is another issue reported on as well as defamation and racial hatred sites. The Home Office pledge to counteract the upsurge in this type of crime by ‘creating a hostile environment’ whereby specialist units and the incorporation of legislation such as the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act (2008), Sexual Offences Act (2003), Terrorism Act (2006), Race Relations Act (2000) and The Protection From Harassment Act (1997) serve as a safeguard and enables a quick response in detecting and destroying situations where these offences can arise. Overall, it is apparent that many things could be done to try and reduce the risk of cyber crime in the UK and internationally. Although technological advancement is pivotal to our progression and survival it would seem it comes at a real cost if it gets into the wrong hands. Ensuring that people are educated and warned against the dangers of responding to emails from unknown senders, more high quality training and incentives are provided to counteract the current uprising wave in cyber crime and finally, legislation is proactive and forward thinking so as to create a blanket of safeguards is vital if the UK are to fight against cyber crime and its devastating effects. In 2015, the government passed the Bill for the Serious Crimes Act 2015 which further amends and strengthens The Computer Misuse Act 1990. It is now an offence to perform unauthorized acts that cause serious damage. Hopefully, the judiciary in conjunction with Parliament and The Cabinet will continue to develop a system that is not just ‘reasonably equipped’ Bainbridge (2004, pg. 359) but strongly resilient so as to protect individuals, businesses and the UK’s safety. References: Academic Books: Bainbridge, D., (2004) An Introduction to Computer Law, 5th edition, London Pearson Education McQuade, S., Colt, J., Meyer, N., (2009) Cyber bullying: protecting kids and adults from online bullies, Conneticut:London, Praeger Parker, D.B (1998) Fighting Computer Crime: A New Framework for protecting information, London, Wiley Prasad, R., (2004) Cyber Crime: Combat Strategies, Hyderabad, ICFAI University Press Wold, G., Shriver, R., (1990) Computer Crime: techniques, prevention and detecting crime in financial institutions, London, McGraw Hill Websites BBC News (2010) UK cyber security plans ‘essential’ for strong defence http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11566145 Accessed March 20th 2015 BBC News (2014) Apple ‘Celebrity photos targeted by hackers’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-29032705 Accessed March 20th 2015 BBC News (2015) The worldwide crime web http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk/2001/life_of_crime/cybercrime.stm Accessed April 22nd 2015 Cabinet Office and Detica (2011) The Cost of Cyber Crime https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/60942/THE-COST-OF-CYBER-CRIME-SUMMARY-FINAL.pdf Accessed March 23rd 2015 Dot-ie (2010) Interpol Boss warns of cybercrime skills shortage http://www.dot-ie.com/tag/attack/ Accessed March 23rd 2015 FT.com (2011) Threat of mobile cyber crime on the increase http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/5a4ed514-32e5-11e0-9a61-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Z9fHdpDD Accessed April 20th 2015 Home Office (2010) Cyber Crime Strategy http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/70/7004.htm#n1 Accessed April 10th 2015 House of Commons (2013) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/70/7004.htm#n1 Accessed April 2nd 2015 KPMG International (2011) Cybercrime a growing challenge for governments https://www.kpmg.com/Global/en/IssuesAndInsights/ArticlesPublications/Documents/cyber-crime.pdf Accessed March 20th 2015 Norton.com (2015) 7 tips to protect against phishing http://uk.norton.com/7-tips-to-protect-against-phishing/article Accessed March 20th 2015 Legislation Computer Misuse Act 1990 Protection From Harassment Act 1997 Race Relations Act 2000 Sexual Offences Act 2003 Police and Justice Act 2006 Terrorism Act 2006 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 The Bill for Serious Crimes Act 2015
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