In the past few years there has been quite a rise in tech crimes. These are not to be confused with cyber crimes (which are merely one type of tech crime) and include a long list of crimes which are caused or otherwise assisted by modern technology.
There has already been wide scale publicisation of the increased use of drones by prisoners to smuggle drugs and other illegal contraband into British prisons, but the Home Office’s centre for applied science and technology have now reported that drones have been used to stalk individuals, both in public and within their own homes.
Meanwhile, in the U.S concerns have been raised that medical equipment including life support machines, medication drips, and pacemakers are all vulnerable to hacking. This combined with the ability of hackers to seize control of some models of car remotely have led the FBI to warn that it is a matter of time until criminals begin using these techniques to hold someone hostage, either by taking control of their pacemaker etc., or by trapping them in their car at high speed, until they agree to pay their own ransom.
3D printers have developed to such an extent (and become so affordable) that it is now possible to use them to manufacture illegal weapons, up to and including firearms and, should someone wish to purchase a more traditionally made weapon, this has become very easy to do using anonymously bought bitcoins on the Dark Net. Treasury ministers here in Britain have become so worried about this that they are now seeking to change British law so that bitcoin exchanges will be required to verify the identity of customers in the same way as traditional banks.
Perhaps more worrying than any of the crimes which are made more easy or, in some cases, made possible for the first time, is the increased capability of offenders to cover their tracks. Some criminals have used DNA misdirection to divert police attention for many years, for example by gathering cigarette butts smoked by known rivals and then leaving them at the scenes of their own crimes. However, technological advances have led to a variety of techniques for DNA “faking”, though these are still unreliable and are highly resource intensive.
These are attempts to avoid detection and capture, but modern technology has also been used to assist in making an escape where the offender has already been arrested and imprisoned. Last year a British prisoner used a smuggled mobile phone to create a fake e-mail account, cleverly named to resemble the e-mail address of the authentic Courts and Tribunals service, and sent an e-mail to the prison where he was held saying that he had been granted bail pending trial. The prison released him immediately.
It would appear that we now live in a world where new crimes become possible every day, technology enables offenders to avoid detection and capture, and where criminals are caught and imprisoned, they cannot always be effectively detained.