By Brian Johnsrud
If the police see a crime in action, they can try to stop it. They have the authority to walk over and apprehend anyone who is breaking the law. But what happens if a crime is being committed and the police can't stop it. They can't just walk up to the scene of the crime, because the scene of the crime is between computers across the globe. And even if they could find the culprit, they currently have little to no authority to take action.
The European and American police agencies may be dealing with a whole different kind of crime. The Counsel of Europe is working on the first computer crime treaty that would help police in investigations of online outlaws in certain cases where the effects they cause cross national borders. Hoping to be a done-deal by December 2000, the proposal would prevent many simple things. First, make it a crime to create, post, or download any information on a website that affects the users computer program, mostly to achieve access to a computer system without permission. Second, to give police authority to force an individual to release their pass phrase for an encryption. Other similar rules would be applied to make it easier to trace virus's, and to mainly give the government the control they feel they need over the Internet.
Recently, the US government is under-going a massively funded program to increase security and safety against viruses. Why? A good deal of that funding cash is going to recruiting young Americans to helping the government protect themselves. "Uncle Sam wants you to help protect America from cyberattacks" is the new slogan being used by Jeffrey Hunker, one of the Fed's top information protection officials. Currently, he is undergoing an enormous campaign to rake in the growing computer generation straight from college. His budget being raised to 1.5 billion for next year, Hunker has focused on technical research and development to keep the government's computers safe from cyber-crime, and also is funding a new scholarship program for information technology students, but only those who promise to work for the government directly after graduation.
Joining in the battle, US Attorney General Janet Reno has unleashed a program that hopes to build a defensive army against the cyber-attacks against the nation's computers. The center that she proposed to fund would study the penetration of the military, banks, and other core systems that have been perforated by hackers. Apparently, this was inspired from a rash of attacks against the Pentagon's computers. One of the most thought-out and systematic attacks recorded to date was recently unveiled as the FBI questioned a Northern California teenager after discovering him trying to break into the Pentagon's high-security files. Because of the current laws, he was not arrested or charged.