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Cyber Crimes in Malaysia and USA: What Should We Do in Malaysia?

TABLE OF CONTENT
TABLE OF CONTENT

LIST OF FIGURES

ii

1.0

INTRODUCTION

01

2.0

CYBERCRIMES

03

2.1

CLASSIFICATION OF CYBER CRIMES

03

2.1.1

Computer-Related Crime

04

2.1.2

Content-Related Crime

05

2.1.3

Computer Sabotage Crime

06

3.0

2.2

CYBERCRIMES CASES IN MALAYSIA AND USA

08

2.3

SUGGESTIONS

11

CONCLUSION

12

REFERENCE

LIST OF FIGURES

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Cyber Crimes in Malaysia and USA: What Should We Do in Malaysia?

FIGURE 1.0: Reported incidents based on general incident classification statistics 2010

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FIGURE 2.0: Top Five Incidents vs. All Others

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1.0

INTRODUCTION
In recent years, computers and the internet have evolved and transformed into a

world-wide phenomenon. Technology now links populations around the world in ways never
before possible. The interconnection of many computers, called cyberspace, allows for
citizens in different nations to communicate with ease (Marion, 2010). The term
cyberspace was coined by the science fiction author William Gibson in his 1984 novel
Nuromancer, to describe a high-tech society in which people live in a virtual world divorced
from real life (Chawki, 2005). Unfortunately, as cyberspace has developed and evolved, so
have cyber crimes of all forms. New technology opens opportunities for new crimes, and
there has been a great increase in the number of cyber crimes that are reported to officials
(Wang, 2007; Nuth, 2008, Walden, 2004). Not to mention, there are also many cases and
incidents unreported or unrecorded (Williams, 2006).
Despite the increase in these crimes, law enforcement has not been able to respond
effectively to the threats posed by those who use computers to commit crimes (Kellermann,
2010). Cybercrime is an obvious form of international crime that has been affected by the
revolution of ICTs globally (Parker, 1998). As a recent study noted, cybercrimes differ from
terrestrial crimes in four ways: They are easy to learn how to commit; they require few
resources relative to the potential damage caused; they can be committed in a jurisdiction
without being physically present in it; and they are often not clearly illegal. (McConnell
International, 2000). On such a basis, the new forms of cybercrime present new challenges to
lawmakers, law enforcement agencies, and international institutions (Chawki, 2005).
What is cybercrime? To date, no single definition of cyber crime has emerged
(Kowalski, 2002) and there are many definitions of cybercrime in all over the world. Cyber
crime is growing rapidly and so the definition for cyber crime is still evolving. Oxford
Dictionaries (n.d.) define cybercrime as crime conducted via the Internet or some other
computer network. Other general terms for cybercrime which is computer crime, can be
also defined as any illegal act fostered or facilitated by a computer, whether the computer is
an object of a crime, an instrument used to commit a crime, or a repository of evidence
related to a crime (Hinduja 2007; Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 2000).

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Cyber Crimes in Malaysia and USA: What Should We Do in Malaysia?

Cyber crime is generally used to describe criminal activity in which computer or/and
network is a tool, a target, or a place of criminal activity. Not only criminal activity but this
term also includes traditional crimes in which computers or networks are instruments to
commit them (Jaya, n.d.). According to Ferrera et al (2001) in Aslan (2006), cyber crime can
be defined as any violation of criminal law that involves knowledge of computer technology
for its perpetration, investigation, or prosecution. Because of the diversity of computerrelated offenses, a narrower definition would not be adequate. Most countries have not
defined what computer crime is and how it differs from real-world crime (Ferrera et al,
2001).
History reveals that cybercrime is not a new phenomenon. This is because the first
ever recorded cybercrime took place in 1820 in France. That is not surprising since the
abacus, which is believed to be the first form of a computer, has been existed since 3500 B.C.
in India, Japan, and China. In 1820, Joseph Marie Jacquard, a textile maker in France,
produced the loom. This device allowed the repetition of a series of steps in the weaving of
special fabrics. Consequently, Jacquards employees were threatened by the invention of the
machine because this might affect their employment and livelihood. They then committed
acts of sabotage with the device to discourage Jacquard from improving and developing new
technologies. This is the first recorded cybercrime (Basha, 2010).
Cybercrime now has grab attention from all over the world. The Melissa Virus is the
turning point of cybercrime where it attacks millions of computers in late March 1999 (Ghosh
& Turrini, 2010). This case was an eye opening to the world after looking at the damages it
caused. By 2001, it was believed that hacking, denial of service attacks, and insider abuse
were rampant in the industry and elsewhere (Ghosh & Turrini, 2010). These hacking, denial
of services and viruses are among type of cybercrime that will further discussed in the
following chapter.

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2.0

CYBERCRIMES
Cybercrime often has an international dimension (Sofaer & Goodman, 2001). There

exists a constantly expanding list of the forms cybercrime can take. These crime types fall
into overarching groups of criminal activities. Many traditional crimes, such as fraud, theft,
organized crime rings, prostitution, stalking, and child pornography have been incorporated
into the digital world. Offenders may find new opportunities to perpetrate their crimes using
this new digital medium (Kunz & Wilson, 2004).

2.1

CLASSIFICATION OF CYBER CRIMES


There are many terms and classifications made worldwide when we referring to

cybercrime. According to Reed & Angel (2003) in Walden (2007), there are three types
of cyber crimes: the crimes where the computer is used as a tool or instrument such as
fraud; the crimes where the computer is the object of the crime such as hacking and the
release of viruses; and the crimes where the computer is incidental to the crime such as
when it is used as a medium for the storage of the records of criminal transactions.
Another classification system adopted by the United States Department of
Justice seems to be particularly reliable and effective (Kadir, 2010). This system
separates computer crimes into three categories according to the computers role in a
particular crime; first, the computer may be the object of a crime. This happens when
the criminal launches an attack upon an individual computer or a network. Second, the
computer may be the subject of a crime; this happens when the computer is the
physical site of the crime, or the source of, or reason for, unique forms of asset loss.
(Nicholson et al, 2000). Some of the examples are dissemination of viruses, worms, and
Trojan horses. Finally, a computer could be the tool for perpetrating traditional crimes.
For example, a computer can be used to steal credit card information, store and
distribute obscenity, or distribute child pornography through computers linked to the
Internet (ONeill, 2000).

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An interesting system can be found is found in the Council of Europe


Convention on Cybercrime. The Convention on Cybercrime distinguishes between four
different types of offences: Offences against the confidentiality, integrity and
availability of computer data and systems; (2) computer-related offences; (3) contentrelated offences; and (4) copyright-related offences (Gercke, 2009).
2.1.1 Offences Against the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of
Computer Data and Systems
All types of crime in this category are directed against (at least) one of the
three legal principles of confidentiality, integrity and availability. This section
gives an overview of the most commonly occurring offences included in this
category.

(i)

Illegal Access (Hacking, Cracking)


The offence described by hacking refers to unlawful access to a

computer system. Following the development of computer networks,


especially the internet, this crime has become a mass phenomenon.
Examples of hacking crimes include breaking the password of passwordprotected websites and circumventing password protection on a computer.

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FIGURE 1.0: Anonymous, a foreign hacker group has threatened to hack


Malaysian Government website (Berita METRO Online, 2011)
(ii)

Data Espionage
Sensitive information is often stored in computer systems. If the

computer system is connected to the Internet, offenders can try to access


this information via the Internet. Offenders use various techniques to access
victims computers to get these sensitive information such as password and
private and confidential data of a company.
(iii)

Data and System Interference


Offenders can violate the integrity of data and interfere with them by

deleting data, suppressing data, altering data or restricting access to them.


One common example of the deletion of data is the computer virus.
Apart from data interference is system interference. Examples of these
attacks against computer systems include computer worms and Denial-ofService (DoS) attacks. Computer worms are self-replicating computer
programmes that harm the network by initiating multiple data transfer
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processes while a DoS attack prevent users from several services such as
accessing the computer system, checking e-mails, reading the news,
booking a flight or downloading files.
2.1.2 Content-related Offences
This category covers content that is considered illegal, including
pornography, child pornography, xenophobic material or insults related to
religious symbols. However, this may not be applied or considered as offences
provided the difference in law, customs and culture.
(i)

Erotic or Pornographic Material


Pornography on the net may take various forms. It may include the

hosting of web site containing these prohibited materials, use of computers


for producing these obscene materials and downloading obscene materials
through internet.
(ii)

Spam and Related Threats


Spam describes the emission of unsolicited bulk messages. Although

various scams exist, the most common one is e-mail spam. Offenders send
out millions of e-mails to users, often containing advertisements for
products and services, but frequently also malicious software.
2.1.3 Computer-related Offences
This category covers a number of offences that need a computer system to
be committed. These broad offences are often not as stringent in the protection of
legal principles, including computer-related fraud and computer-related forgery

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(i)

Fraud and Computer-related Fraud


This is the most common and popular category of all the cybercrime.

This is probably because it is the easiest, and yields the most financially.
One of the famous examples of fraud and theft is Nigerian Money Offers
that offers false promises of riches if consumers pay to transfer money to
their bank accounts.
(ii)

Computer-related Forgery
Computer-related forgery describes the manipulation of digital

documents. For example, by creating a document that appears to originate


from a reliable institution, manipulating electronic images (for example,
pictures used as evidence in court), or altering text documents. Phishing
seeks to make targets disclose personal/secret information. Often, offenders
send out e-mails that look like communications from legitimate financial
institutions used by the target users.

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Cyber Crimes in Malaysia and USA: What Should We Do in Malaysia?

2.2

COMPARISON OF CYBER CRIMES IN MALAYSIA AND USA


Both Malaysia and USA share one similarity: both are exposed to daily attacks

of cyber crimes in many forms. Therefore, any country should have a division that
handles these cyber attacks. In both Malaysia and USA, they have a division handle
reports of incidents of cyber crimes which generally known as Computer Emergency
Response Team (CERT). Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT)
and USA Computer Emergency Response Team (US-CERT) had gathered data every
year from any crime reports from the victims.
From January to March 2011, MyCERT, via its Cyber999 service, had handled
a total of 3,563. The incidents were reported to MyCERT by various parties within the
constituency, which includes home users, private sectors, government sectors, security
teams from abroad, foreign CERTs, Special Interest Groups and in addition to
MyCERTs proactive monitoring efforts.

FIGURE 2: Incidents received in Q1 2011, according to type of incidents handled by


MyCERT (CyberSecurity Malaysia, 2011)
Figure 2 shows statistics of cyber crimes reported to MyCERT for the first
quarter of 2011 (January 2011 March 2011).
Offences Against the Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability of Computer Data
and Systems
Content-related Offences
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Computer-related

Figure 1 illustrates the incidents received in Q1 2011 classified according to the


type of incidents handled by MyCERT Figure 2 illustrates the number of incidents
received in Q1 2011 classifi ed according to categories of incidents handled by
MyCERT and comparison with the number of incidents received in the previous
quarter.

FIGURE 3: Comparison of incidents between Q1 2011 and Q4 2010 (CyberSecurity


Malaysia, 2011)

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2.3

SUGGESTIONS

Fighting cybercrimes requires holistic approaches. There are many ways can
be done in order to curb cyber crimes, especially in Malaysia. It is the responsibilities
of all stakeholders, limitless to government, but also to the private organizations and
individuals. Even though it will not promises to fully solve cyber crimes, at least by
the combination of these approaches, the risks of cyber crime can be reduced most
effectively (Ajala, 2007). There are two vital categories which are individuals and
government.

Individuals play important roles in combat against cyber crimes. Selfprotection remains the first line of defence. The weak state of global legal protections
against cybercrimes increases the importance of self protection against cybercrime
(Ajala, 2007). Therefore, each individual suppose to have self-awareness against
cyber crimes. Individual especially the users of computer must have good knowledge
about computer and knows how to be protected from cyber offences. For instance,
one should know how to install antivirus, always update their computer and able to
detect spam, phishing site and viruses.

Parents, which are also act as individual, have to act against cyber crime as
well in a sense that they have to protect their children from cyber offences. This is
especially content-related crime such as pornography, as well as forgery and theft.
Their children, who are absent-minded, should be protected against such threats.
Protection can be made through education of their children and time by time, parents
should monitor their children activities in cyberspace. To one extent, parents can
install parental control software, such as KidsWatch , Guardware and k9 Web
Protection.
Government, on the other hand plays important role in legislation and law
regulation. In 1997, Malaysia had enacted Malaysian Computer Crimes Act 1997, as a
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protection towards cyber users in Malaysia. However, having laws alone is


insufficient in fighting cyber crimes. Government of Malaysia need to provide holistic
plan involving people in Malaysia. For instance is giving education about cyber
crimes. Often we heard of education against crimes such as snatch theft and rape, why
not cyber crime?
In addition, element of control are already done and need to be revised at least
every month. Malaysian government censorship towards several content-related
websites is insufficient because there are plenty of websites which contain contentrelated crimes such as porn websites and file sharing websites and it keeps on growing
every day. Therefore, regular revise of these websites are vital.

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3.0

CONCLUSION
In conclusion,

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Cyber Crimes in Malaysia and USA: What Should We Do in Malaysia?

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