Dot Com becomes Dot Con

Cyber crime“We are building our lives around our wired and wireless networks. The question is, are we ready to work together to defend them?” reads the headline on the FBI cyber crime web page.

Norton Cybercrime Report reveals that 86 % of Internet users in Indonesia are victims of cyber crime. The digital plague spreads due to consumer ignorance, which makes them vulnerable and exposed to threats in the online world. Growth of the internet has given rise to new opportunities in every field we can think of – be it entertainment, business, sports or education. It has also led to Cybercrime –the use of any computer network for crime and the high-tech criminals of the digital age have not been slow to spot the opportunities.

Cybercrime is the fastest-growing criminal activity on the planet. It covers a huge range of illegal activity from online bullying through social networking sites such as Facebook to phishing attacks for personal information, financial scams, computer hacking, virus attacks, stalking by e-mail and creating websites that promote racial hatred.

The modern thief can steal more with a computer than with a gun. Tomorrow’s terrorist may be able to do more damage with a keyboard than with a bomb” is the chilling warning from the “Computers at Risk”.Modern technologies such as the internet offer up huge legitimate benefits, but also powerful opportunities for cyber criminals. The internet has made the geographical boundaries insignificant. Business can be conducted globally legitimately from home via the electronic medium. The same is true for criminal business activities.  Bogus companies are setup online and scams lure unsuspecting buyers with products at tempting prices to capture credit card details – only to find that the site suddenly disappears. Another 21st century crime is identity theft and is most prevalent in the USA. Personal information is collected through social networking sites and public databases to apply for credit cards and run up huge bills.

Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories:

1.       Cybercrimes against people

Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail. The trafficking, distribution, posting, and dissemination of obscene material including pornography and indecent exposure, constitutes one of the most important Cybercrimes known today.

Software Viruses are another example wherein computer users are affected in mass.  The Melissa virus or “love-bug” virus crippled at least 45 million computers worldwide and caused billions of dollars worth of damage.

Yet another cyber crime is harassment. Various kinds of harassment can and do occur in cyberspace, or through the use of cyberspace. Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. The violation of privacy of internet users comes under this category. It refers to unlawful collection and usage of individual data for profit without the consent of the user.

2.       Cybercrimes against property.

These crimes include computer vandalism (destruction of others’ property), transmission of harmful software programs or malware designed to harm your computer or network systems and property.

3.       Cybercrimes against government.

Cyber terrorism is a real threat. Cyberspace is being used as the medium to threaten and terrorize. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual “cracks” into a government or military maintained website.

As more and more regions of the world go online, cybercrime is finding new and more permissive environments, especially in developing nations, where cybercrime is gaining a foothold, says a recent report. Across the world, the report predicts that cybercrime will continue to offer high rewards and low risks both to organized and to opportunistic criminals.

Indonesia introduced cyber laws in 2008 – Electronic Information and Transaction Law (UU ITE), to provide security and legal assurance for electronic business transactions. However, as everywhere, prevention is better than cure. Some simple steps can keep us safe:

Protect your computer: Always install and use antivirus, antispyware, and firewall. These keep your computer from being infected by malware and protect your data. Disconnect from the internet when your computer is not in use.

Protect your Identity: Use secure passwords and use your credit card prudently. Keep your personal information private and limit visibility of your profile on social networks. Restrict the amount of information you publish on social networking sites and further restrict access to the published information to your trusted group only.

Update your computers: Several applications are available to provide automatic security update features on your computer systems.

Secure your E-mail: Be aware of phishing emails. Open attachments only when you know the sender

The only 100% safe computer is the one that is not connected to the internet. Be a savvy online user. Be aware of inappropriate conduct and content online. Keep current with technology. You don’t have to be an expert, but a little understanding goes a long way towards keeping you safe online.

Dot Com becomes Dot Con

As published in India Se June 2011


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