Technology is impacting every aspect of the world we live in. This includes how we conduct business, interact with our families and pursue day to day activities in both work and play. Technological advances also provide multiple and agile ways for criminals to conduct their illegal activities. As these activities take place there is an increasing need for the proper authorities and court systems to also implement policies, procedures and tactics that leverage the technological advancement that is occurring. There is an ever increasing need to maintain a high level of technological sophistication in policing activities to not only keep up with the criminal activity but to also provide the tools necessary for the justice system to serve and protect the community. High tech crimes are being committed in the United States on a daily basis and include online fraud, identity theft and money laundering just to name a few of the intricate schemes that are facilitated by technology. A gap analysis would show that the policing activities that are occurring to detect, prevent and prosecute criminals are not necessarily in the proactive stance that the authorities would like to be in. It is important to recruit talent and invest in the tools required to keep the technological edge in crime detection and prevention before the criminals devise ways to thwart the efforts of traditional criminal justice practices.
As we build our lives around internet based tools such as tablets, smart phones, and Wi-Fi enabled appliances, the technological advancements that every day experiences are incurring seem like a normal progression of life and the interactions we have with our environment and tools. These applications store personal information, our identities, and access to secure facilities, bank accounts, passports, medical information and a plethora of other information. As technology advances and those things that hold value are accessed through technologically based tools there is an increase in the risk to those items and data. As crime progresses from a physical mugging on the streets of the city to a virtual mugging by a person that is never seen nor heard it is up to the men and women of the criminal justice system to enable their procedures and processes to keep up with the technological advancements the criminals are utilizing. Crimes that are facilitated by technology have occurred since the beginning of civilization. The first crimes were conducted in the dark to steal food or other items of the prehistoric man and with the invention of fire the night thefts were deterred by this technological advancement (Institute for Security Technology Studies, 2004). The same holds true as thieves utilize hacking techniques to gather data and access unauthorized information to gain data, assets or other items of value.
High Tech Crime
Some examples of high tech crimes that occur in the United States include identity theft, money laundering, bank fraud, and hacking of private information for personal or corporate gain or just for malicious intent and destruction. The core activities that criminals undertake are still based on deception, fraud, theft and destruction but the way these criminals are carrying out the activities are becoming more and more likely to be facilitated by high tech tools and techniques. These high tech crimes allow the criminals to conduct activities without directly conducting the transactions or by allowing them to mask their actual identity while committing these types of crimes. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has created a site to raise awareness and take steps to become more proactive in preventing high tech crimes from occurring. The major point of their tool is to provide data and information to the public to raise awareness of the types of criminal activities that are occurring so that the general population can take the initial steps to become the first barrier to their information (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013). The criminals conducting cybercrimes or other high tech criminal activities are trying to stay ahead of the criminal justice system by exploiting technological advancements that the criminal justice system has not found a way to prevent or obstruct.
When fighting high tech crime the criminal justice system must also utilize the tools and techniques facilitated by technology to create a case and prosecute the criminals (Brenner, 2011). They will also use technology to prevent the activities from occurring. There also seems to be a gap between the ability to retain a proactive prevention stance for criminal activities and the ability for criminals to consistently change their tactics, tools and technology to obtain the same illegal objectives. Fighting crime is already a tough and relentless pursuit but technology can help alleviate some of the manual efforts required by law enforcement. Technology can take data that is accumulated regarding crimes including the type of crime, location, occurrences, and other trending data to produce a report that can help focus the limited police resources on specific areas that criminal activities occur. This is most easily seen through physical crimes where a police presence can deter illegal activities. This same type of procedure can be utilized with high tech crimes as well. The monitoring and controlling aspects of the criminal activities can provide key information to police units so that they can place key resources in susceptible locations to prevent these activities. The ability to turn data from the activities into information that is usable is facilitated by technology. Usable information becomes a tool throughout the criminal justice process.
The biggest gap between what the law enforcement agencies can implement regarding detection and prevention of high crimes and what criminals can conduct utilizing technological advancements is based on the agility of both parties. Law enforcement agencies work in a hierarchical bureaucracy with the limitations of budget, quality of life and balancing the priorities of their mission. The criminals are centrally focused on undertaking specific activities while remaining agile throughout the process to take advantage of weaknesses or gaps that are presented by the law enforcement agency. The criminal justice system, in essence, develops the protective measures without fully understanding what the attack will entail and then must chase the requirements based on the moves of the criminals (Peak, 2010). This places the law enforcement agencies in a disadvantaged stance against the criminal activity. This gap can be minimized by focusing the appropriate resources to the proactive stance of high tech crime prevention and the investment in resources, technology and highly skilled personnel to carry out the appropriate activities needed to match that of the criminals.
High tech crime is becoming more and more of a threat to the quality of life of every person that utilizes technology. This includes the use of bank accounts, point of sale credit and debit transactions or any other activity online that requires personal information. The vulnerabilities are increasing on a daily basis and the ability for criminals to partake in those vulnerabilities is increasing as technology provides them the tools and techniques to commit fraud, theft and destruction of data. The ability for law enforcement to keep pace with the criminal activities is based on the ability to appropriate and utilize resources for technological advances in criminal justice and prevention of high tech crime.
Brenner, J. (2011). America the vulnerable: inside the new threat matrix of digital espionage, crime, and warfare. New York, NY: The Penguin Press.
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2013). Cyber crime. Retrieved from: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber
Institute for Security Technology Studies. (2004). Law enforcement tools and technologies for investigating cyber attacks. Technology Analysis Group: Dartmouth.
Peak, K. J. (2010). Justice administration: Police, courts, and corrections management (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.