You are going to read a newspaper article about a computer crime. Six sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A-G the one which fits each gap (37-42). There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use. Mark your answers on the separate answer sheet.
A computer- the perfect partner in crime.
The unsolved crime is usually seen as the perfect crime. Very often a crime remains unsolved thanks to a combination of poor planning and luck on the criminal’s part and a faulty police investigation.
In the early 1980s it was estimated that about 325,000 large computers in businesses throughout the United States were juggling enormous amounts of commodities. Unlike human clerks and bank tellers, computers could never get their job wrong, they could never be accused of committing a human error.
Small wonder then that it did not take long for criminals to realise the potential of getting computers onto their side. They realised that if inaccurate information is fed in at the start of the process, wrong instructions are produced at the other end and yet no-one doubts the orders the machine gives them.
A twenty-one year old high school graduate, Schneider discovered secret codes which allowed him to tap into the computer controlling the stocks in the warehouse of Pacific Bell. Using his own modified computer terminal at home, he persuaded the electronic stock controller that he was an authorized installation contractor for the phone company and he began to order costly wiring and exchange equipment from the warehouse.
With trucks painted to resemble those of the phone company, Schneider would hijack the equipment and then return home to tap into the computer once more to give it instructions to wipe the whole transaction from its electronic memory. The whole process, from the initial order being sent to it being erased, would take just a few hours.
The embarrassing extent of the losses was only admitted when a police investigator had physically gone round to the warehouse and totalled up items with old-fashioned pen and paper.
Schneider subsequently set himself up in a new business as one of America’s highest paid computer security consultant. For fees, he would reveal that clients’ systems contained flaws like the ones he had exploited, which enabled crooked computer operators to steal by remote control.
The decision of the almighty computer is final, whether it is sending a demand for payment to a customer or releasing vast amounts of hard cash on invoices. The computer is above suspicion.
The case never reached the courts. It was after all a huge embarrassment to an organisation that needed to convince its public that their electronically calculated phone bills were accurate and Schneider, even under lock and key, still posed a threat. All charges were dropped after he gave the phone company a secret briefing on the loopholes in their system.
The legend of Jerry Schneider lives on in the corporate memory of every major US firm, haunting them when noughts are added to the payslips of imaginary staff. His picture also hangs on the walls of hundreds of hackers operating in clandestine cyber-space.
The case that brought the potential for computer fraud to the attention of an unsuspecting public was that of Jerry Schneider. He became a millionaire by defrauding the master computer of the Pacific Bell Telephone company in Los Angeles.
Accepting unofficial instructions, the computer dispatched expensive goods to destinations throughout the region. A typical order, for example, would be sent to a pavement beside a manhole cover where delivery drivers left the bulky palets, assuming another crew would arrive later and begin installation.
In the criminal’s search for illegal perfection, many have found a willing new associate who never gets nervous about being caught and punished, who leaves no fingerprints and never demands a share of the loot. The computer, an electronic brain without morals or scruples, is the perfect partner in crime.
The illegal business boomed until an employee, angered at not being given a pay rise, tipped off the police. Even with a red-handed suspect in custody, however, officials of the phone company could not believe that Schneider had stolen $1 million worth of stock in less than a year.
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