The emergence and advancement of the internet and wireless technologies has led to a significant development of how information is passed across different people and countries. The internet has made it easy for people to interact and carry out activities with ease like never before. Despite the many benefits accruing as a result of this explosion, there is witnessed increase in challenges as a result of this growing global network. The advancement of computer technology and networking has rapidly expanded information and communication and hugely contributed to the globalization of the world into a smaller more integrated world in term of information and technology.
The introduction of the computer technology has led to reduction of the workload and even the reduced number of staffs needed in a company. Today, most organizations are employing limited number of limited personnel due to the work done by the computer application like the internet. Messengers are no longer required to deliver parcels as their work has been efficiently taken up by the internet application software in the computers. The internet has also led to the reduction in the amount of hardware’s like the printers due to LAN networking embraced by most of the organizations.
In the academic world, most learning institutions and their students are currently doing their studies which include research tutorials, lectures and assignments online unlike during the old days when someone had to literally sit in class and attend to the classes. Lectures by the same professor can be taken online in several numbers of places in a convenience manner. In addition to this, sending softcopies to the lecturer is easier than the books which are bulky and cumbersome to handle considering the number of students a professor could be teaching (Dorothy et al, 2011).
The internet has also made it easier for people to access games, music and even graphics more easily than the old days. Communication has too been made easier and more convenient globally as it only takes micro seconds for a person to convey a message to his colleague in a different place as long he is online.
Although the advancement of information technologies has positively revolutionized communication across the world, it has also brought with it significant economic and social costs. The technologies that have made it easier for people to communicate have also provided criminals new venues and opportunities to carry out their illegal activities. Criminals have taken advantage of the lack of regulations for the internet to carry out their activities with reckless abandon. According to Robert, W et al (2006), “as computers advance rapidly without adequate regulation and monitoring, criminal elements have a field day while law enforcement officials are still playing catch-up to this day”.
The expansion of information technologies has witnessed the proliferation of new categories of crimes that are an extension of other traditional crimes like child pornography, stalking, identity theft and financial crimes. The scope of opportunities to commit criminal activities has increased with new criminals, including hackers who aim at invading computer networks and virus writers who are most akin to internet vandals being the most prominent. Criminals have become more technically savvy and carry out these activities with a lot of comfort (Robert et al, 2006).
Availability of easily accessible technical documentation on creating virus and techniques for hacking has led to an increased number of criminals who are very competent, with anyone who can access a computer being a potential criminal. Interception of privileged information has become the most feared online crime with the theft of credit card information being the most rampant. Statistics indicate that in 1997 alone, fraudulent VISA transactions were reported at $800 million ((Robert, W et al 2006, p.1)
The computers have also become the best avenue to launder money earned through criminal activities. Criminals divide huge amounts of ill gotten cash to small amounts that are too small to be noticed and wire the money to offshore accounts through the use of computers. Despite the heavy regulation on money laundering in countries like the United States, the huge volumes of financial transactions makes it difficult to monitor all of them.
Other criminal activities that have led to massive economic losses include theft of intellectual property ranging from trade secrets to illegal reproduction of copyrighted consumer materials like music and movies. More ominously, cyber terrorists are using opportunities brought about information revolution to facilitate their activities across the world. Terrorist groups make use of the internet to recruit members, perpetuate their ideologies and hide their secrets. Terrorism therefore continue to pose a significant threat to computer and information systems with cases being reported of terror groups trying to target information systems managing critical infrastructure like water and power supplies. The United States is at the highest risk of information attack due to its significant reliance on information infrastructure such as phones, satellite and cable networks and electronic networks in the education, health and other important programmes (Bamett, 2010). A huge challenge therefore exists when it comes to designing systems that are secure fro cyber attacks and the same time are easily accessible for data and information by the appropriate authorities.
The gravity of these offenses is further complicated by the global nature of offenses committed over computer networks. The activities are carried out between people from across the world in the privacy of their homes and therefore cannot be scrutinized by immigration, customs and other government agencies dealing with law enforcement. The situation is made even more difficult since it is not easy to predict the future trends of these crimes due to an absence of data documenting the nature, extends and trends of these criminal activities. The presence of good data is a pragmatic start point towards enacting laws and policies that can effectively deal with information related criminal activities in future.
As much as the internet and cyber space is been applauded for turning the world into a global community, it has also led to proliferation of criminal groups taking advantage of its potential to advance their agenda. Use of information technologies to advance terrorism activities continues to be an issue of concern among security agents across nations. Dealing with this complex security challenges requires the concerted efforts of law enforcement officers, governments and security experts to come up with novel strategies that will effectively address the issue.