Computer Crime

January 6, 1978

Report Outline
Scope of New-Style Crime
Potential for Computer Misuse
Criminal Justice and Technology
Special Focus

Scope of New-Style Crime

Growing Use and Misuse of Computers

The annals of crime are recording a new and growing type of criminal activity: crimes involving computers. Fraud, embezzlement, blackmail and other crimes committed by the manipulation or misuse of computers cost Americans more than $100-million a year, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Today business and government are more vulnerable to white-collar crime through use of computers than they were ever before or probably ever will be in the future,” according to Donn B. Parker, senior management systems consultant at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) in Menlo Park, Calif. Parker, an expert on computer fraud, said a basic reason for this vulnerability is “the lack of progress in recognizing the threat and taking protective action in a period of rapid transition from manual, paper-based business activities” to fully computerized systems.

There are other reasons why computer-related crime is on the increase. For one thing, the number of computers and persons who work with them is rising steadily. International Data Corp., a publishing and market research consulting firm with headquarters in Waltham, Mass., reported that 86,314 general-purpose computers were installed in American businesses as of Jan. 1, 1977—the latest date for which figures are available. The company also reported that 176,315 minicomputers—small, relatively inexpensive units—are in use. In addition, the U.S. government uses some 10,000 computers.

Computers touch the daily lives of nearly all Americans. They are used in nearly all business and governmental functions that are particularly susceptible to monetary theft. They are used by banks, public utilities, consumer credit companies and by financial offices in large corporations and in state, local and federal governments. Along with this increasing use of computers is a parallel rise in the number of persons who work with the machines—operators, programers and technicians. SRI International estimated that 2,230,000 Americans worked directly with computers in 1975. The figure is believed to be substantially higher today.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Feb. 28, 2020  Cyberwarfare
Apr. 20, 2018  Technology Addiction
Oct. 06, 2017  Cyberwarfare Threat
Feb. 26, 2016  Virtual Reality
Feb. 12, 2016  Video Games and Learning
Jan. 15, 2016  The Dark Web
Feb. 15, 2013  Improving Cybersecurity
Apr. 13, 2012  Internet Regulation
Sep. 16, 2011  Computer Hacking
Sep. 24, 2010  Impact of the Internet on Thinking
Feb. 26, 2010  Cybersecurity
Aug. 01, 2008  Internet Accuracy
May 02, 2008  Cyberbullying
Jul. 28, 2006  Cyber Socializing
May 12, 2006  Controlling the Internet
Jun. 10, 2005  Identity Theft
Sep. 17, 2004  Cyberpolitics
Sep. 26, 2003  Cybersecurity
Apr. 12, 2002  Cyber-Crime
Oct. 27, 2000  Computers and Medicine
May 26, 2000  Future of Computers
Jan. 28, 2000  The Digital Divide
Feb. 05, 1999  Digital Commerce
Jun. 30, 1995  Regulating the Internet
May 21, 1993  Software Piracy
Sep. 30, 1988  Management's High-Tech Challenge
Jan. 09, 1987  Power Surge in Personal Computers
Feb. 13, 1981  The Computer Age
Nov. 03, 1978  America's Information Boom
Jan. 06, 1978  Computer Crime
May 12, 1971  Reappraisal of Computers
Jul. 25, 1962  Approach to Thinking Machines
Computers and the Internet
Crime and Law Enforcement