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The Growing Menace of Cyber Crime
The technology revolution of the last decade is forcing law enforcement agencies as well as businesses to find new, effective ways of confronting the growing menace of cyber crime.
Agents from the FBI and Secret Service joined corporate lawyers, federal prosecutors, and a federal judge last week at the Rutgers School of Law-Newark for a far-reaching conversation that explored the scope of the problem and outlined ways to respond.
The Cyber & Intellectual Property Crime Symposium – sponsored by the law school and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey – drew a standing-room-only crowd in the McCarter & English Lecture Hall, including students, faculty, attorneys, and law enforcement authorities.
Cyber crime covers a wide range of offenses – everything from copyright infringement to consumer theft to child pornography – but each has computers or computer networks as its tool, target, or place of criminal activity.
The extent and breadth of cyber crime has accelerated and available statistics underestimate the incidence. To get an idea: In 2000, about 16,000 complaints of computer crime were filed, according to the Internet Crime Complaint Center. Last year, the agency said there were more than 336,000 complaints.
John J. Farmer Jr., the dean of the law school, said Rutgers was the ideal setting to explore the topic through the multiple perspectives of experts and scholars.
“This issue was unheard of 20 years ago, and now it’s one of the top priorities of the justice department,” Farmer said. “The thought was that we would bring together the enforcement community, the criminal defense bar, and frankly the corporate world who are the victims of cyber crime, and talk about what the emerging trends are, and what companies and individuals can do to protect themselves.”
Paul Fishman, U.S. Attorney for the New Jersey district, said symposium reflects an increasing emphasis by law enforcement on crime prevention.
“We get almost all our headlines from what we do on the enforcement side – the people we arrest, and the people we convict, and the people who go to jail,” Fishman said at the start of symposium. “But it is very important to us, and it is something upon which we are going to increasingly focus, to see what we can do to prevent crime in all sorts of different areas.”
Among the speakers were several Rutgers alumni, including law school graduates Timothy Ryan, now with the FBI’s Newark office, and Phillip H. Kwon, first assistant attorney general for New Jersey. Michael Sussmann, a lawyer who specializes in internet-related crimes, attended Rutgers as an undergraduate.
Several law enforcement officials who spoke said the biggest challenge over the last decade was restructuring their agencies so that cyber crime could become a priority.
“Prior to 9/11 we looked at cyber aspects on an ad-hoc basis,” said Gordon Snow, an assistant director with the FBI. “We found out that doesn’t work so well in this realm of changing technology.”
The FBI cyber mission now focuses on four broad areas: computer intrusions and the spread of malicious code; sexual predators and the spread of child pornography; threats to national security and competitiveness; organized criminal enterprises engaging in fraud.
The symposium dwelled in detail on what businesses should do once they perceive a threat to their computer system. Panelists advised corporations to have a good plan in place for when a breach occurs.
Elizabeth Ferguson, an in-house attorney with Medco Health Solutions, spoke about an incident in which an employee planted a ‘logic bomb’ that could have disabled a network that held customer health care information.
“Because we monitor and log and keep track of who has access to what systems, we knew there were only seven people in the company who could have done it,” she said. “Within an hour or two, their computers, while they looked they were working to them, were disconnected from the main frame.”