Category Archives: Computers/Cell Phones/Electronics

Guest Blogger: Ronnie Custer: Cyber Crime: Time To Update International Laws?




Universal Law against Cyber Crime Is What We Need

How are cyber crimes perpetuated?

There are many ways in which cyber crimes are perpetrated and technologically savvy attackers are indeed inventing newer ones to outwit law enforcement too. However, the main kind is as follows:

1. Unauthorized or unsolicited access to computer systems or networks with malicious intentions     or motives also termed hacking

2. Data theft of electronically stored information

3. Stratified e-mail bombardment

4. Manipulating electronic data before and after processing

5. Salami attacks mostly on financial and economic data

6. Denial of Service Attacks

7. Virus or worm attacks

8. Trojan Horse or data infiltration to cause damages, or suspension of services

How are they detected? 

Usually, cyber crimes are detected when the individual or institution notices large sums of money are unreasonably withdrawn from their accounts, or their system has become corrupted or malfunctioning. Complaints filed with the relevant Cyber Cell Departments or law enforcement are also ways of detection such genre of crimes. Many new anti cyber crime technology, tools and softwares are now being provided and installed which are able to detect cyber crimes sometimes even before the real damage sets in. Anti Virus Software (AVS) and other lingering software in computer systems are able to detect and resolve many instances of illegal entry.

Universal laws and not country- specific laws are the need of hour for addressing cyber crimes: 

Another major reason why there needs to be universal laws against cyber crimes is that there may be some different sets of cyber laws enacted and enforced by different countries of the world. While the EU may have one set of laws, the Middle East may have another and the Far East yet another, with the Americas, distinguishing itself with the fourth set of different regulatory regimes regarding cybercrimes and its treatment. Thus, enforcement of laws and bringing culprits or perpetrators before the due process of law would be a very difficult proposition, especially if this is of trans border kind with many conflicting enactment, laws and procedures. With country specific laws, it is also difficult to agree on which laws the violators could be tried and punished- the laws of the cyber crime perpetrating country, the laws of the victim’s country or the preponderance of global laws since the crimes were committed  on global internet highway.

There is every possibility that with nebulous laws, the perpetrators could stand good chance of going scot free, due to lack of evidence and even lack of law enforcement techniques.

But if there is preponderance of global set of cyber security laws and their enforcement, there is every likelihood that perpetrators would be made to stand trial and pay for their crimes.

Reasons for apparent need for globally enforceable, universal anti cyber crime 

¬ Changes in global, regional and domestic demographics have indeed warranted the need and urgency for universal laws to combat cyber crimes. Governments of various nations of the world, even involving the Interpol needs to be placed at the disposal of cyber crime fighters, wherever and whenever necessary to do so.

¬ Dramatic and major developments in online communications have indeed aided and abetted cyber criminals, some of whom may be masters of the cyber crime business. They regularly outwit law enforcing agencies and many global cyber crimes remain unsolved to this day due to lack of needed evidence and enforcement laws

¬ Since cyber crimes are now not bound to one country or state, encompassing, as it were, several States and nations through globalization, it has become imperative for States to act together and work in much closer manner to control menace of cyber crime and its after effects, on individuals, cohorts, agencies, institutions and governments. This could indeed be greater advantageous if there is a consistent, cohesive and solid set of Universal laws to which all signing countries need to adhere, abide and to enforce in a consistent, comparable and cohesive manner.

¬ Criminals do take advantage of weak and inconsistent laws to wreck havoc with apparent impunity. They know that current laws are insufficient to indict or even charge them. Global law enforcement with strong legal armory could indeed stop many varieties of online crimes dead on their tracks

Conclusion: Global cyber crime can only be effectively apprehended, prosecuted and eradicated if all nations of the world join together in a determined manner to try and wipe out this scourge from the face of the earth through Universal laws, that act and impact on every nation on earth which is in dire need of robust anti cyber crime fighting mechanism.

Author Bio: I am Ronnie Custer and I am intended on writing academic cases for the past several years that are assisted me to gain knowledge in writing grading assignments for all sorts of students. I have worked in different companies in writing industry.

Links for further reading:

FBI Cyber Crime:

Computer Crime, Wikipedia:

Cybercrime: Is It Out of Control?:

James Lynn on TED: Everyday Cybercrime:



The Writers Forensics Blog: 100 Top Websites to Bookmark

The crew over at have listed The Writers Forensics Blog as one of their Top 100 Websites to Bookmark, which they describe as a “list of great sites to present practical, real-world information on the subject.” Many great sources here.

Thanks. I’m flattered.



Eyes of the Beholder: An Old Myth Resurfaces, Sort Of.


A century ago it was widely believed that the image of a killer was forever imprinted in the eyes of the victim. Sort of stamped on their retinas. This has been termed Optography and was a fiction staple in the 1800s and early 1900s. Of course, this isn’t the case. Not possible. Not yet, anyway but who knows what the future will hold.

However, in some situations a photo of the victim just might retain the killer’s image and this might be useful in tracking down the bad guy.


Stupid Criminals: Butt Dialing Murder




Scott Simon needs to control his cell phone. It simply won’t behave. I mean all he did was slip it in his pocket. That’s it. Well, and apparently discuss a premeditated murder in progress with his buddy. The problem? His phone did the old 911 butt dial thing. Oops.




Dystextia: A New Take On An Old Stroke Sign

“every where thinging days nighing”

“Some is where!”




This gibberish was texted by a 25-year-old, 11-week-pregnant woman to her husband. I know, you’re thinking it’s another case of autocorrect, that often annoying function on all these “not so smart” phones. But, that’s not the case.

She was taken to the Emergency Department where signs of a stroke–right-sided weakness, disorientation, and the inability to speak–were noted. An MRI confirmed the diagnosis. Fortunately, with anticoagulant treatment this young lady is doing fine.

Of the many signs of a stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident or CVA) and a TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) difficulties with speech are the most variable and interesting. The medical term is aphasia. It can be receptive–the victim is unable to recognize spoken or written language–or expressive–the victim can’t say what he/she wants to say or it comes out as gibberish. Aphasia comes in many flavors and is a very odd symptom complex.

In this case, the aphasia was expressed as difficulty in “writing” a coherent text message. Dystextia seems like the correct moniker for this sign.


Guest Blogger: Katherine Ramsland: Crime Beat Becomes Crime Tweet

Crime Beat Becomes Crime Tweet
A Philadelphia cop taps social media for crime control

Using social media doesn’t just mean mundane status lines and community games. Joseph Murray, a Philadelphia-based detective, has devised a unique way to combine Twitter with his neighborhood watch. As a result, he’s made his area a safer place. Hopefully, his idea will go viral. Imagine all these Twitter-communities keeping watch.

Murray is a third-generation police officer and long-time Philadelphia resident. He joined the force when he was just 19. Six years later, he became a detective. He started his online networking efforts with community blogs when he became a member of the Southwest Division. He wanted potential victims to be aware of danger zones – especially those that were presently in progress. Twitter provided a great tool, for both brevity and speed.

Murray opened a Twitter account in 2009 and identified himself as a detective. He’s @TheFuzz9143 (his badge number). He signaled that he would be posting tweets about crime patterns, suspects, and public safety. He asked people to let him know if he could be of assistance. It was an invitation to be involved.

“Everyblock is reporting a stranger rape on the 200block of 47th Friday night,” one Tweeter writes. “Nothing in news. Is this true?”

“Not true,” TheFuzz9143 responds. “Can’t find anything in any computer system we have here.” Followers can see the response and retweet it. If he gets an update, he can send it out at once, and the update quickly spreads.

In another tweet, Murray related a “great job done by a few citizens who called police when they spotted a guy who committed a robbery a few nights ago. Arrest made. Phone returned.”

As of today, he has acquired around 1285 followers, many of whom live in his area. He’s known some followers as long as 5 years, from the earlier message boards.

“I started Twitter,” he says, “because the neighborhood message boards were becoming irrelevant. I wanted to use the popular medium. You have to adapt or you’ll be left behind.”

He’s aware of the limitations of a few cops driving around a neighborhood: they can be in only one place at any given time. Citizens who join the effort to keep their neighborhoods safe offer more eyes and ears. It’s also a way to build trust and cooperation. Even Philadelphia’s mayor has posted tweets on Murray’s feed.

On a daily basis, he tweets where and when crimes are occurring (“just had a gunpoint Robbery on 47th Street”), and responds to queries. For example, they arrested a guy in the process of a car-jacking who couldn’t figure out a stick shift. Murray even tweets to criminals not yet arrested, warning them they’ll be in custody soon.

Murray is a face to which people can relate, a protector who listens. He’ll even comment on mundane things like what he’s eating or the billboard ads he notices. When things are quiet, he offers safety tips or posts a photo he just took. If someone wants to send a tip confidentially, Murray provides his private email address.

To spread the word, reporters have written about Murray’s efforts to lift the veil that often blocks the police from the community they serve. One Philadelphia journalist contacted residents to get their reactions, finding individuals who keep Murray’s Twitter feed on their home pages or who feel like Murray is a friend. This is positive community policing in action. One neighborhood watch group routinely checks Murray’s tweets before they go out on patrol.

Recently, bureaucracy slowed things down, as officials realized that policies must be in place before officers reach out in this medium. “Per a new directive,” Murray tweeted in January, “all personnel wanting to use social media under their official title must get approval from the commissioner.”

The Philadelphia Police Department recognizes the service Murray provides and they’re currently training 12-15 officers to exploit social network opportunities for community relations. It’s important to have consistency. The department itself has a Twitter feed, @Phillypolice.

The concept is simple: train officers to use Twitter, publicize their “beat” locally, and invite followers to provide information about things they observe. Also, provide followers with safety tips and updates (where possible) about local crime. It’s a terrific way to tap the networking power of social media. It’s not a replacement for 911, but it does connect a lot of people. It also makes them feel safer and more involved.

Let’s hope more towns and cities pick up on it. As Murray states, “It’s win-win.”

Dr. Katherine Ramsland is an associate professor of forensic psychology and criminal justice at DeSales University. She teaches undergraduate, graduate, and online courses there, specializing in forensic procedures and issues. She holds master’s degrees in clinical psychology from Duquesne University, criminal justice from DeSales University, and forensic psychology from the esteemed John Jay College of Criminal Justice, as well as a Ph.D. in philosophy.

In addition to four graduate degrees, she has a certification in Medical Investigation (CMI-V) from the American College of Forensic Examiners International, and she is on the board of the Cyril Wecht Institute and the International College of Behavioral Science. Her current teaching interests involve forensic science admissibility, psychological investigation procedures, serial killers, and the neuroscience of violence and psychopathy.

Dr. Ramsland has published forty books, including The CSI Effect, The Forensic Science of CSI, The Science of Cold Case Files, The Devil’s Dozen: How Cutting-edge Forensics Took Down Twelve Notorious Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Healthcare Serial Killers, Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers, The Human Predator: A Historical Chronology of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation, The Criminal Mind: A Writers’ Guide to Forensic Psychology, and The Mind of a Murderer: Privileged Access to the Demons that Drive Extreme Violence.

She also wrote biographies of Anne Rice and Dean Koontz, and a trilogy of nonfiction books involving “immersion journalism,” Piercing the Darkness, Ghost, and Cemetery Stories. In this same genre, she penned The Science of Vampires and is at work on Paranormal Forensics.

With Dr. Henry C. Lee and his lab director, Elaine Pagliaro, Dr. Ramsland wrote the course text, The Real Life of a Forensic Scientist. With former FBI profiler Gregg McCrary, she co-authored a book on his cases, The Unknown Darkness: Profiling the Predators Among Us, and with Professor James E. Starrs, A Voice for the Dead, which is a collection of his cases of historical exhumations and forensic investigation. Dr. Ramsland’s work been translated into ten languages and she has published over 1,000 articles on serial killers, criminology, forensic science, and criminal investigation. She was also a research assistant to former FBI profiler, John Douglas, which became The Cases that Haunt Us. She currently writes a regular feature on forensic investigation for The Forensic Examiner (some of which is based on her history of forensic science, Beating the Devil’s Game). Her most recent book is Snap! Seizing Your Aha! Moments.

Dr. Ramsland presents workshops to law enforcement, psychologists, social workers, probation/parole organizations, judges, and attorneys. Her observations on criminality have drawn USA Today, the Daily News, the Newark Star Ledger, and other newspapers for commentary. She has consulted for episodes of CSI and Bones, and has participated on numerous documentaries for CBS, ABC, A&E, ID, the History Channel, E!, WE, and Court TV, as well as programs abroad. For the ID series, “American Occult,” she was the recurring expert.


Guest Blogger: Lori Andrews Talks About Social Networks and Thriller Plots

As cops and criminals use social networks, potential thriller plots abound

Murder.  Mayhem.  Betrayal.  Sounds like your typical thriller, right?  But it’s just an average day on a social network.  As both cops and criminals turn to social networks to do their jobs, the real life incidents provide potential plotlines for thriller writers.  Already, writers Harlan Coben (Caught), Jeffrey Deaver (The Broken Window), and Scott Turow (Innocent) have woven internet issues into their thrillers.   In my latest non-fiction book, I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did:  Social Networks and the Death of Privacy, I talk about scores of real criminal cases involving social networks that could provide inspiration for thriller writers.

Facebook posts can provide the motivation for a murder—such as the 34-year-old British man who hacked his estranged wife to death after she changed her Facebook status to “single.”   Posts can also provide ways to uncover crimes.  The IRS searches social network sites for evidence of taxable transactions and the whereabouts of tax evaders, while Homeland Security searches certain people’s emails for 350 red flag terms, including the phrase “social media” itself.   Posts can be used to intimidate witnesses—such as when a killer’s girlfriend posted, JUST REMEMBER SNITCHES GET STITCHES!!  Virtually every aspect of crime and punishment can include a social network twist.


When a woman advertised a diamond ring for sale on Craigslist, the people responding to the ad robbed and beat her and shot her husband. She’d posted her address in the ad, but sometimes people unwittingly reveal their location and information about their possessions. Photos taken with most smartphones, for example, have embedded in them a string of digital data known as a geotag. When a woman posts a photo of her new engagement ring or her new baby, the geotag reveals the physical location where the photo was taken. Free software programs can readily decode the information and provide a Google map of the location, leading security analysts to warn about a new problem, “cybercasing,” where anything from a theft to the kidnapping of a child can be planned based on data people unwittingly reveal.

Checking in on Facebook or Foursquare can also create risks.  In New Hampshire, a burglary ring hit more than fifty homes when people posted status updates on Facebook indicating that they weren’t home.

Virtual deputies:

Social networks have become a cop’s best friend.  A survey by the International Association of Chiefs of Police of 728 law enforcement agencies from 48 states and the District of Columbia found that 62 percent of the agencies used social networks in criminal investigations. Thieves have been identified when they’ve posted photos of themselves with stolen goods. Search requests, too, have helped to identify offenders. Nearly half of the law enforcement agencies said that social media had helped them solve crimes. Robert Petrick’s conviction for murdering his wife, for example, was secured through evidence from his Google searches, including “neck,” “snap,” “break,” and a search for the topography and depth of the lake where his wife’s body was found.

When police responded to a burglary call in Martinsburg, West Virginia, the robber had done more than steal two diamond rings and ransack some cabinets. In the middle of the heist, he’d checked his Facebook page on the victim’s computer and then forgotten to close the page. The cops knew exactly who to arrest.  In another case, a female criminal had fled the jurisdiction to evade arrest.  Cops monitored her high school reunion’s Facebook page and snagged her when she came back to town to party.

But offenders have also turned the table on cops.  In New York, a defendant in a felony weapons case subpoenaed his arresting officer’s Myspace and Facebook posts. The day before the trial began, the officer had set his mood to “devious” on his Myspace page and the defendant used that post to persuade jurors that the cop had planted the gun on him.

Social networks tainting trials:

In Georgia, a 54-year-old judge “friended” an attractive 35-year-old defendant in his court and offered her advice on her case—a breach of judicial ethics. Jurors have also misused Facebook, Twitter, and Google, leading to dozens of mistrials and overturned verdicts. In 2009, in a single court, six hundred potential jurors were dismissed when prospective jurors mentioned they’d Googled information about the case and discussed it with others in the jury pool.  When Reuters monitored tweets over a three-week period for the term “jury duty,” it found that tweets from jurors or prospective jurors pop up at the rate of one every three minutes. Ignoring their legal duty, some jurors make up their mind before all the evidence is presented. “Looking forward to a not guilty verdict regardless of evidence,” one person tweeted. Another said, “Jury duty is a blow. I’ve already made up my mind. He’s guilty. LOL.” Yet another man, in a jury pool, hadn’t even been selected for the trial. Yet he boldly tweeted, “Guilty! He’s guilty! I can tell!”

Some people are so dependent on social networks that they can’t make a decision about anything—whether to buy a certain car or break up with a boyfriend—without doing internet searches or running a poll of their friends. When faced with the evidence in a British sexual assault and abduction case, a juror posted the facts on her Facebook page and said, “I don’t know which way to go, so I’m holding a poll.”

With the click of a mouse or a simple search on their smartphones, criminals, cops, judges, and jurors can turn the justice system upside down.  As a thriller writer, social networks can be your new BFF—not just to promote books your current book, but to inspire your next one.


About the author:

Lori Andrews is a law professor and the author of three Alexandra Blake thrillers published by St. Martins Press:  Sequence (2006), The Silent Assassin (2007) and Immunity (2008).  Her nonfiction book I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did:  Social Networks and the Death of Privacy will be published January 10, 1012.  You can reach her at and


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