As of 1996, the Internet connected an estimated 13 million computers in 195 countries on every continent, even Antarctica (1). The Internet is not a single network, but a worldwide collection of loosely connected networks that are accessible by individual computer hosts in a variety of ways, including gateways, routers, dial-up connections, and Internet service providers. The Internet is easily accessible to anyone with a computer and a network connection. Individuals and organizations worldwide can reach any point on the network without regard to national or geographic boundaries or time of day.
However, along with the convenience and easy access to information come new risks. Among them are the risks that valuable information will be lost, stolen, corrupted, or misused and that the computer systems will be corrupted. If information is recorded electronically and is available on networked computers, it is more vulnerable than if the same information is printed on paper and locked in a file cabinet. Intruders do not need to enter an office or home, and may not even be in the same country. They can steal or tamper with information without touching a piece of paper or a photocopier. They can create new electronic files, run their own programs, and hide evidence of their unauthorized activity