Computer technology has attracted its fair share of criminal activities from those looking to exploit and capitalise on people's reliance on the computer to run their daily lives. After all, author Jolly John singled Singapore out for being 'the most network-ready country', signifying both our dependence on new-age technology and the capabilities of the talent we have. However, there are dire consequences to be dealt with should the intentions of those with the ability to manipulate the systems deviate to malice.
In their efforts to safeguard against computer crime, the Singapore Government has set up various measures through a multi-pronged approach. The first step is to keep up governing laws with the fast changing developments of technology and the opportunities for dismeanour it presents by passing new legislation. Singapore passed the Computer Misuse Act in 1993, which has since been amended four times.
The Computer Misuse Act punishes perpetrators of computer crime, rather than cyber crime. Computer crime refers to crimes against a computer through acts that attack a computer system. The Act covers unauthorised access to a computer, or computer material without authorisation, modifying the contents of a computer without authorisation, obtaining or intercepting any computer service or function, interfering with or obstructing the lawful use of a computer, impeding or preventing access to or impairing the usefulness or effectiveness of any computer program or data, or disclosing a password, access code, or other means of gaining access to a program or data. To take just the first example, any person who uses a computer to secure access to another computer without authorization shall be guilty of an offence.
On the other hand, the existing Penal Code governs cyber crime, which is traditional crime like fraud, theft or extortion abetted through the computer. As opposed to carrying out crime against a computer, perpetrators carry out their illegal acts through the computer.
Through the Computer Misuse Act, the law punishes and deters computer criminals by meting out harsh penalties including imprisonment and fines. Crimes targeting the bedrock of our nation's critical industries like banking and finance, communications or transportation and public services warrants the harshest punishment - a fine up to $100,000 and/or imprisonment up to 20 years. It is also noteworthy that a Court can order compensation to be paid by the offender for any damage that is caused, and such compensation which is ordered does not prevent or restrict a civil claim for damages which exceeds the compensation amount.
The next step it has taken is to set up agencies that ensure the enforcement of these laws. These specialised agencies include the Singapore Computer Emergency Response Team, Computer Crimes Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Computer Forensics Branch of the Singapore Police.
Operated by professionally-trained tech experts, they can exercise their power with extra-territorial jurisdiction. They are trained in all aspects of computer investigation, one of which is the emerging field of computer forensics. This intricate process of investigation enables the retrieval of consequential data from computers, computer networks, data storage media and related equipment that may contain evidence which can be presented in court. They first analyse the data and meticulously document and preserve the evidence to be presented before court. This operation requires highly trained professionals as it involves delicate procedures where a single wrong move can destroy or modify the evidence.
If one suspects a breach but don't want to bring it directly to the authorities, there is the option of approaching private forensic investigators like Adroit Data Recovery Centre (ADRC). Due to the increase in violations of the Computer Misuse Act, ADRC has set up a forensic investigation department to deal with the influx of such investigative requests.
With more than 10 years of experience in the data recovery market, ADRC is well equipped with certified computer forensic experts who are capable of securing and documenting digital evidence with full audit trail suitable for court submission and performing data recovery under all adverse situations. They also have their own class 100 clean laboratory. Without having to move evidence around, this minimizes the risk of evidence being contaminated.
Computer users should also adopt preventive measures to safeguard their computers against computer crime, which is a very real threat that has the potential to be even more damaging given our reliance on computers these days.
Adroit Data Recovery Centre (ADRC) Pte Ltd is South East Asia's leading data recovery centre equipped with the first Class 100 clean laboratory in Singapore. It has an un-paralleled capability and the setup to acquire and collect the digital evidence from all kinds of working or damaged media while observing the strictest process of computer forensic investigation.
The team of qualified forensic experts is able to provide court-ready reporting of digital evidence for civil and criminal litigation through the installation of rigorous forensic methodologies in order to identify, acquire, preserve, analyze and document digital data (electronically stored information) for use as evidence in court or other legal or administrative proceedings.