Computer crime is any illegal act which involves a computer system 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. Telecommunication crime is the fraudulent use of any telephone, microwave, satellite or other telecommunications system.
Many telecommunications systems themselves are computers and therefore in some instances, offences against a telecommunication system can also be considered a computer crime. Computers and telecommunications have become a critical part of the daily lives of Canadians, and criminals have also been able to take advantage of this technology. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is responsible for the investigation of all computer crime offences within its jurisdiction.
It also investigates such crimes where the Government of Canada is the victim, regardless of primary jurisdiction. In addition, the RCMP can investigate offences involving organized crime or offences related to the national interests of Canada. There are RCMP Commercial Crime Sections is every major city in Canada. Each one of these units has at least one investigator who has received specialized training in the investigation of computer crimes.
These investigators are supported by the RCMP Computer Investigative Support Unit (CISU) located at RCMP Headquarters in Ottawa. CISU can provide technical guidance and expertise to all Canadian police departments and federal government agencies in relation to computer and telecommunication crime investigation. In Canada today, the main types of computer and telecommunication crime are unauthorized access to computers (hacking), mischief to data, theft of telecommunications, and copyright violations of software (illegal copying and distribution of software). In addition, computers are commonly found in many other types of investigations and these systems must be examined for evidence.
Types of crime where computer evidence has been located include murder, fraud, stock market manipulation, pornography, proceeds of crime, and drug importation. The term computer “hacker¡± refers to an individual who, via a modem or some other computer communications device, circumvents computer security and breaks into a computer system. “Hacking” could be roughly equated to a break and enter. A “hacker” can steal data, sabotage information, or do nothing but browse.
Owing to the technical nature of computer and telecommunication crime, law enforcement personnel must be properly trained to conduct such investigations. The Canadian Police College offers three different computer crime courses covering everything from search and seizure of computer systems to examination of computers for evidence. These courses are available to any police agency in Canada as well as to some foreign investigative agencies. Computer and telecommunication crime is a global problem.
Offences can transcend national boundaries and very often do. For this reason, the RCMP maintains contact with computer crime investigators around the world including investigators in the United States and Great Britain. Statistics on computer crime and telecommunications crime are difficult to accumulate primarily due to reluctance on the part of victims to report such crime and the many different jurisdictions in Canada. However, with growing economic losses to victims, more crimes are being reported to police.
Recent losses in relation to telecommunications crimes have been very large. Some computer criminals operate on an international scale and in an organized fashion. These criminals can route their activities through countries where jurisdictional processes and legal problems can make investigation difficult.