What Is Computer Sabotage?

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Computer sabotage involves deliberate attacks intended to disable computers or networks for the purpose of disrupting commerce, education and recreation for personal gain, committing espionage, or facilitating criminal conspiracies, such as drug and human trafficking. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, computer sabotage costs billions of dollars in legal fees to recover damages such as identity theft and to repair vital infrastructure that serves hospitals, banks and 911 services.

Committing computer sabotage can be as simple as deliberately infecting a computer with a virus to keep authorized users from logging in. Although not always, much computer sabotage involves the use of malware, such as bots, worms, viruses and other spyware, which enables hackers to gain illegal access to personal and corporate computers. Apart from theft of services and wire fraud, such sabotage facilitates pedophiles who stalk children online at school and at home, identity thieves who duplicate fake IDs for illegal immigrants, and home invasion rings and other criminals who use malware to identify potential victims.

Protecting yourself from computer sabotage means taking proactive measures to guard hardware and software. Besides installing and maintaining a firewall and antivirus software, establish separate user IDs for each person who uses a computer. Never post lists of usernames and passwords, and take the time to change passwords as soon as an account shows signs of having been tampered with. When using a public, school or workplace computer, always report lags and aberrant performance to alert support staff that the system may have been compromised.