Defined broadly, the term “computer crime” could reasonably include awide variety of criminal offenses, activities, or issues. The potentialscope is even larger when using the frequent companion or substitute term”computer-related crime.” Given the pervasiveness of computers in everydaylife, even in the lives of those who have never operated a computer, thereis almost always some nontrivial nexus between crime and computers.
By the FBI’s definition, cyberterrorism is well beyond the scope ofthis paper. With increasing frequency this term is being used by the massmedia. Absent any evidence of activity, we’ll leave it in the “eye of thebeholder” to determine whether cyberterrorism is currently being deterred, is a phantom menace…or somewhere in between.
A key distinction between electronic civil disobedience and politicizedhacking is anonymity. The motive for remaining secret is simple: themajority of politically motivated hacks are clearly illegal. Mostinstitutions recognize that breaking into an opponent’s computer andadding, changing or deleting (HTML) code, even if it is juvenile graffiti, violates some other’s rights. Attitudes and opinions begin to divergemarkedly around this point however.
One person’s activist is another’sterrorist.
“A lot of groups are claiming that they’re hacking into sites for ahigher moral purpose, but they’re hiding beyond anonymity or pseudonymity. Taking responsibility is not something we see happening.”
At the heart of this discussion is the question of motive. Opinionsdiffer just as much within the hacker community as outside over theefficacy of certain actions. The spate of (zombie) DDoS attacks againstprominent e-commerce sites that occurred in February 2000 sparked a debatebetween two prominent hacker collectives. The Electrohippies Collectiveclaims the Internet as a public space liable to be used by groups andindividuals as a means of protest.
As activists, they admit no practicaldifference between how cyberspace and the street are used by society.
Recent actions on the Internet against e-commerce sites represent afundamental disagreement about the purposes of the Internet, and theincreasing emphasis on the use of the ‘Net as a vehicle for profitabletrade rather than of knowledge and discussion.
The cDc says, the targeted sites were selected for their namerecognition and prestige value, not for their commercial attributes oractivities.
You may make yourself feel good and get a lot of attention, but whenyou crack a Web site, you are violating another person’s rights. …what doesthat mean? CRIME!