Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Cyber Crime Influencing Businesses in South Africa

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Cyber Crime Influencing Businesses in South Africa

Article excerpt


While the affects of cyber crime are well documented on overseas (particularly American, Australian, British and some European) companies, very little research appears to be available about South African companies. Research needs to be done on how badly South African companies are affected by cyber crime (if at all) and whether the newly promulgated laws will aid in preventing and prosecuting these crimes.

Therefore the following research questions can be applied:

* How does cyber crime affect business in South Africa?

* To what extent do the laws (new and old) protect business in this regard to prevent cyber crime?

Case study research was chosen as the methodology. Yin (1998, p. 23) defines a case as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context, especially when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident and in which multiple sources of evident are used. In this study, although sorely lacking in the South African context, legal cases are a matter of public record and may provide insight into how the various laws are and would be implemented. Attention will also be paid to information available from other sectors in South Africa (for example Banks, Insurance and some higher education institutions). The participants for this study were banks (2) and insurance agencies (2) in South Africa as well as Higher Education institutions (2). The data was collected through interviews and observations.

Cyber Crime Concepts

Crime is an aspect of society that adversely affects us all. Cyber crime is a recent addition to the list of crimes that affect us, whether directly or indirectly. Until recently much cyber crime was not directly prosecutable in South Africa due to the lack of applicable controlling legislation. That which was prosecutable often relied heavily on the judgment under common law or statutory legislation under non-related (i.e. not computer related) acts. Business is adversely affected by crime, regardless of the type. Cyber crime can be any kind of crime, ranging from hacking (seen as spying) to more serious damage of intellectual property (Defacing websites). Almost any kind of commercial related crime can be duplicated as cyber crime. Businesses often loose millions in cyber-attacks, not necessarily through direct theft but by the loss of service to customers and damage to the company's image.

Cyber crime is little different to any other kind of crime; the defining difference between cyber crime and traditional crime is that cyber crime is committed with the use of a computer (Whether it be a Desktop PC or an ATM machine). Almost all the kinds of traditionally accepted crimes could be performed with the aid of a computer (Gordon, 2000, p. 423). Crimes such as fraud and forgery are relatively easy to perform and occur very frequently however; crimes such as murder can also be attributed to cyber crime. For example: If a person broke into and damaged or affected the network that controls the lights and junctions of Railway tracks and two trains happened to collide killing twenty people, that could be construed as murder. Another (which studies have shown to be a fairly common) crime is Hacking. Hacking can be likened to espionage since the people hacking into systems are often just going in to have a look around (spying) without intending to do any damage to the system or its integrity (this is not always the case, some cases of hacking , usually called cracking also occurs). According to Long & Long, (1999, p. C215) cracking can be quite malicious and cause sever damage to systems and data integrity) this crime can be performed or executed from within or external to the organisation (Gordon, 2000, pp. 425426).

Intellectual Property

The introduction of the Internet was seen by many as the beginning of the end for intellectual property rights (Hartnick, 1998). …

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