Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Informatics

No 2005-10: Opportunities for computer abuse

Robert Willison and James Backhouse
Additional contact information
Robert Willison: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60 , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark
James Backhouse: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60 , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: Systems risk refers to the likelihood that an IS is inadequately guarded against certain types of damage or loss. While risks are posed by acts of God, hackers and viruses, consideration should also be given to the ‘insider’ threat of dishonest employees, intent on undertaking some form of computer abuse. Against this backdrop, a number of researchers have addressed the extent to which security managers are cognizant of the very nature of systems risk. In particular, they note how security practitioners’ knowledge of local threats, which form part of such risk, is often fragmented. This contributes to situations where risk reducing efforts are often less than effective. Security efforts are further complicated given that the task of managing systems risk requires input from a number of departments including, for example, HR, compliance, IS/IT and physical security. In a bid to complement existing research, but also offer a fresh perspective, this paper addresses systems risk from the offender’s perspective. If systems risk entails the likelihood that an IS is inadequately protected, this text considers those conditions, within the organisational context, which offer a criminal opportunity for the offender. To achieve this goal a model known as the ‘Crime Specific Opportunity Structure’ is advanced. Focussing on the opportunities for computer abuse, the model addresses the nature of such opportunities with regards to the organisational context and the threats posed by rogue employees. Drawing on a number of criminological theories, it is believed the model may help inform managers about local threats and, by so doing, enhance safeguard implementation.

Keywords: None

JEL-codes: H00

44 pages, September 18, 2005

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