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Proceedings Paper

Computer loss experience and predictions
Author(s): Donn B. Parker
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Paper Abstract

The types of losses organizations must anticipate have become more difficult to predict because of the eclectic nature of computers and the data communications and the decrease in news media reporting of computer-related losses as they become commonplace. Total business crime is conjectured to be decreasing in frequency and increasing in loss per case as a result of increasing computer use. Computer crimes are probably increasing, however, as their share of the decreasing business crime rate grows. Ultimately all business crime will involve computers in some way, and we could see a decline of both together. The important information security measures in high-loss business crime generally concern controls over authorized people engaged in unauthorized activities. Such controls include authentication of users, analysis of detailed audit records, unannounced audits, segregation of development and production systems and duties, shielding the viewing of screens, and security awareness and motivation controls in high-value transaction areas. Computer crimes that involve highly publicized intriguing computer misuse methods, such as privacy violations, radio frequency emanations eavesdropping, and computer viruses, have been reported in waves that periodically have saturated the news media during the past 20 years. We must be able to anticipate such highly publicized crimes and reduce the impact and embarrassment they cause. On the basis of our most recent experience, I propose nine new types of computer crime to be aware of: computer larceny (theft and burglary of small computers), automated hacking (use of computer programs to intrude), electronic data interchange fraud (business transaction fraud), Trojan bomb extortion and sabotage (code security inserted into others' systems that can be triggered to cause damage), LANarchy (unknown equipment in use), desktop forgery (computerized forgery and counterfeiting of documents), information anarchy (indiscriminate use of crypto without control), Internet abuse (antisocial use of data communications), and international industrial espionage (governments stealing business secrets). A wide variety of safeguards are necessary to deal with these new crimes. The most powerful controls include (1) carefully controlled use of cryptography and digital signatures with good key management and overriding business and government decryption capability and (2) use of tokens such as smart cards to increase the strength of secret passwords for authentication of computer users. Jewelry-type security for small computers--including registration of serial numbers and security inventorying of equipment, software, and connectivity--will be necessary. Other safeguards include automatic monitoring of computer use and detection of unusual activities, segmentation and filtering of networks, special paper and ink for documents, and reduction of paper documents. Finally, international cooperation of governments to create trusted environments for business is essential.

Paper Details

Date Published: 12 March 1996
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 2616, Information Protection and Network Security, (12 March 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.232265
Show Author Affiliations
Donn B. Parker, SRI International (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2616:
Information Protection and Network Security
Viktor E. Hampel; Clifford B. Neuman; John Perry Barlow, Editor(s)

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