Is your information safe?

Essay by Moose MilkenUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, February 1996

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Is Your Information Safe?

He doesn't wear a stocking mask over his face, and he doesn't break a window to get into your house. He doesn't hold a gun to your head, nor does he ransack your personal possessions. Just the same he's a thief. Although this thief is one you'll not only never see, but you may not even realize right away that he's robbed you. The thief is a computer hacker and he 'enters' your home via your computer, accessing personal information -- such as credit card numbers -- which he could then use without your knowledge -- at least until you get that next credit card statement. Richard Bernes, supervisor of the FBI's Hi-Tech squad in San Jose, California, calls the Internet 'the unlocked window in cyberspace through which thieves crawl' (Erickson 1). There seems to be an unlimited potential for theft of credit card numbers, bank statements and other financial and personal information transmitted over the Internet.

It's hard to imagine that anyone in today's technologically oriented world could function without computers. Personal computers are linked to business computers and financial networks, and all are linked together via the Internet or other networks. More than a hundred million electronic messages travel through cyberspace every day, and every piece of information stored in a computer is vulnerable to attack (Icove-Seger-VonStorch

1). Yesterday's bank robbers have become today's computer hackers. They can walk away from a computer crime with millions of virtual dollars (in the form of information they can use or sell for an enormous profit). Walking away is precisely what they do. The National Computer Crimes Squad estimates that 85-97 % of the time, theft of information from computers is not even detected (Icove-Seger-VonStorch 1).

Home computer users are vulnerable, not only for...