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Computer Crimes

A computer can be used to perpetuate an offense, such as creating forged or fraudulent documents, making terrorist threats and participation in illegal pornography. Additionally, as in the case of viruses, the computer and computer network can also be the target of a criminal act. Examples of the latter types of computer crimes include:

  • unauthorized intrusion or "hacking" into another's computer;
  • writing and distributing a malicious program; and
  • interference or "denial of service attacks" on computer networks.

Because the traditional definitions of offenses that might apply to computer crimes, such as burglary, do not include computer technology, new state and federal laws have been enacted to cope specifically with these crimes.

Various federal laws can be used to prosecute people who commit computer crimes. For example, federal laws make it a felony to access restricted government computers, prohibit interception of electronic communications and provide for e-mail privacy by prohibiting unauthorized access to communications stored on a computer.