The History of Cybercrimes

Category: Law
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The history of Cybercrimes begins traces the evolution of cybercrime from the criminal misuse of mainframe computers that emerged in the 1960s through the varied and complex types of misuse made possible by the networked personal computers. Computer systems have now become integral to the daily functioning of businesses, organizations, governments, and individuals we have learned to put a tremendous amount of trust in these systems. As a result, we have placed incredibly important and valuable information on them. History has shown, that things of value will always be a target for a criminal. Cybercrime is no different. When people started to put valuable data on their personal computers, phones, many of the times it will put a target on that information for the criminal to aim for, in order to gain some form of profit from the activity (Gall, 2018).

In the past, the criminal had to gain access to an individual’s valuables, they would have to conduct a robbery in some shape or form. In the case of data theft, the criminal would need to break into a building, sifting through files looking for the information of greatest value and profit. In our modern world, the criminal can attack their victims from a distance, and due to the nature of the internet, these acts would most likely never meet retribution. But in the 70s, we saw criminals taking advantage of the tone system used on phone networks. They used an attack that was called phreaking, where the attacker reverse-engineered the tones used by the telephone companies to make long distance calls. In 1988, the first computer worm made its debut on the internet and caused a great deal of destruction to organizations. This first worm was called the Morris worm, after its creator Robert Morris. While this worm was not originally intended to be malicious it still caused a great deal of damage. The U.S. Government Accountability Office in 1980 estimated that the damage could have been as high as $10,000,000.00.

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Frequently cyberattacks have grown destructive in recent years. One form of hacking is the denial-of-service (DoS) attack. This has become a tool of war. Many attacks are designed to paralyze websites, financial networks and other computer systems by flooding them with data from outside computers. For example, a -year-old Canadian with the handle “Mafiaboy” had launched the first documented DoS attack in 2000, against numerous e-commerce sites, including eBay and, shutting some down and wreaking havoc that cost an estimated $1.7 billion (James, 2009). In 2007, entities believed to have been associated with the Russian government or its allies launched a DoS attack against Estonia during a dispute sparked by the removal of a World War IIera Soviet soldier from a public park; the attacks crippled the country’s digital infrastructure, paralyzing government and media sites and hammering the former Soviet republic’s largest bank.

But the massive cyberattack against Georgia is believed to have taken place before Russia’s invasion of the country last year, crippling a major banking system and disrupting cell-phone service. Many of the complaints that have been filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations. But over the 2.7 million identity theft and fraud reports received in 2017, 1.1 million were fraud-related, costing consumers almost $905 million. Consumers had paid in these cases was over fraud cases over $429. But within the fraud category, many of the imposter scams were the most reported and ranked first among the top 10 fraud categories identified by the FTC. Cyberspies are also targeting regular citizens. News headlines regularly tell of hackers ransacking computer networks for Social Security numbers, banking information and other data that could be used for potential identity theft.

Electronic crime

Electronic crime is maturing, according to many of the security experts. The cybercrime evolution, the criminals are now adopting many different conventional approaches that reflect cold business sense,  from the supermarket-style pricing to outsourcing to specialists acting as portfolio managers, coders, launchers, miners, washers and minders of infected “zombie” computers.   “It’s a remarkable development of a whole alternative business environment that’s occurred over the last couple years,” said Richard Archdeacon, a senior director of global services for Symantec, an Internet security company with 11 research centers around the world tracking crime trends. “What’s been so astonishing is the speed with which it’s developed and the effect with which the market has grown and matured.”

In the United States alone, victims of reported Internet fraud lost $239 million in 2007, with average losses running about $2,530 per complaint recorded by a special Web-based hot line operated by the FBI and the National White-Collar Crime Center, a nonprofit corporation focusing on electronic crime. The most common frauds were fake e-mail messages and phony Web pages and the crimes were organized from the United States, England, Nigeria, Canada, Romania and Italy, according to an FBI report. The aim is to keep up with an age-old game of cat-and-mouse that is accelerating, with newly emerging tools like the “fast flux” that allows cybercriminals to hide the national location of spamming and phishing Web sites, which surface for minutes on a bot computer in one country before moving within minutes to another infected bot in another country (Carvajal, 2008). Phishing is a method of fraudulently acquiring sensitive information, like passwords and credit card numbers, using digital communication.

The advantage of fast flux, according to experts, is that attackers can register a child-pornography site or a fake bank that is not tied to a single domain that can be tracked and shut down. The flux techniques were used in phishing frauds this year that targeted bank customers in England where criminals created fake bank sites mimicking Barclays and Halifax banks and requested personal information.


The asymmetrical nature of cybercrime calls out for new approaches to combating crime. One person can become as powerful as an entire army, some countries can no longer rely solely have more reactive methods to fighting cybercrimes. Traditionally, many threats to national borders lead to the concentration of law enforcement agents or military personnel at border crossings and points of entry. Similarly, all kinds of criminal threats are met with the deployment of extra police in a neighborhood. But now, given the access and ease of the Internet, every person who has a computer, a Smartphone, or any other device that can connect to the Internet is a potential point of entry into a country (Dolliver, 2013).

Organizations like the United Nations emphasize, transnational organized crime spans national and ethnic boundaries; and local police jurisdictions must also be alert to cybercriminals operating across state and regional lines. Security officials and law enforcement agencies alike must place a new emphasis on preventive intelligence to locate sources of potential cyber threats to the organizations and people they are supposed to protect. Since cybercrimes are relatively new, there now responses by legislators and law enforcement authorities. Policy responses are in their infancy, under development at all levels of government. In the United States alone, there are more than fifty federal statutes that directly or indirectly address different aspects of cyber-security and cybercrime. There is no single piece of comprehensive U.S. legislation that encompasses all aspects of cyber-related crime. Many of the federal agencies have created centers to address threats.

The Department of Defense has its “Defense Cyber Crimes Center” while the Federal Bureau of Investigation has the “Internet Crime Complaint Center” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement has its “Cyber Crimes Center. Other federal agencies pursue investigations of particular kinds of cybercrime  such as the Drug Enforcement Administration’s attempt to tackle the problem of illegal online sales of prescription drugs through fake pharmacies. Both laws and enforcement efforts are scattered.


The focus on a major cybercrime that has a byte out of history $10 million hack, 1994-style. two decades ago, a group of criminals that spanned multiple continent and was led by a young computer programmer in St. Petersburg, Russia. They hacked into the electronic systems of a major U.S. bank and secretly started stealing money. They had no mask, no note, no gun this was bank robbery for the technological age.

The case began in July 1994, when several corporate bank customers discovered that a total of $400,000 was missing from their accounts. Once the bank officials realized the problem, they immediately contacted the FBI. Hackers had apparently targeted the institution’s cash management computer system?”which allowed corporate clients to move funds from their own accounts into other banks around the world. The criminals gained access by exploiting the telecommunications network and compromising valid user IDs and passwords. Working with the bank, we began monitoring the accounts for more illegal transfers. We eventually identified approximately 40 illegal transactions from late June through October, mostly going to overseas bank accounts and ultimately adding up to more than $10 million. Meanwhile, the bank was able to get the overseas accounts frozen so no additional money could be withdrawn.

The only location where money was actually transferred within the U.S. was San Francisco. Investigators pinpointed the bank accounts there and identified the owners as a Russian couple who had previously lived in the country (“A Byte Out of History: $10 Million Hack”, 2016). When the wife flew into San Francisco and attempted to withdraw funds from one of the accounts, the FBI arrested her and, soon after, her husband. Both cooperated in the investigation, telling us that the hacking operation was based inside a St. Petersburg computer firm and that they were working for a Russian named Vladimir Levin.

We teamed up with Russian authorities who provided outstanding cooperation just days after a new FBI legal attach office had been opened in Moscow, to gather evidence against Levin, including proof that he was accessing the bank’s computer from his own laptop. We also worked with other law enforcement partners to arrest two co-conspirators attempting to withdraw cash from overseas accounts; both were Russian nationals who had been recruited as couriers and paid to take the stolen funds that had been transferred to their personal accounts (“A Byte Out of History: $10 Million Hack”, 2016).  In March 1995, Levin was lured to London, where he was arrested and later extradited back to the United States. He pled guilty in January 1998.

Believed to be the first online bank robbery, the virtual theft and ensuing investigation were a needed wakeup call for the financial industryand for law enforcement. The victim bank put corrective measures in place to shore up its network security. Though the hack didn’t involve the Internet, the case did generate media coverage that got the attention of web security experts. The FBI, for its part, began expanding its cybercrime capabilities and global footprint, steadily building an arsenal of tools and techniques that help us lead the national effort to investigative high-tech crimes today.

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The History of Cybercrimes. (2019, Jan 05). Retrieved from