The Growth of Cybercrime

In this essay I am going to be talking about cybercrime and as technology develops and grows, the amount of threats from cybercrime grows along with it. The average household has around 2-4 laptops or computers, this is due to the increased usage of ICT in modern society. However the increase in usage of laptops and computers come with great threats to people's personal information which could lead to very serious issues such as identity theft and fraud.

I will be giving examples of real life experiences with cybercrime, what can happen if you are a victim and how you can avoid being a victim. There are many different factors that can affect the growth of cybercrime such as, how much the person knows about computers and how to safely use them, what websites are safe to enter personal details into, what websites are fake and much more. Therefore with there being so many factors, lots of training and practice is required to prevent you from becoming a victim of cybercrime.

In one case of cybercrime on social networking sites, Bryan Rutberg had his Facebook account hacked and he could not take back control. The hacker had sent e-mails to his contacts telling them that he had been robbed at gun point when travelling abroad, he/she then asked for some money to help him get home. Of course Mr. Rutberg was fine but his friends didn't know it was not him and there was no way of telling them.

This incident left one of Bryan's friends sending $1,200 to a bank account that wasn't really his. The issue is very common due to the mass of Facebook users and can prove to be even more serious than this story. Over 1 billion people are now using social networking sites making it an easy target for hackers and thieves to get most of the personal details they need to steal a person's identity. The main social networking site used is Facebook holding over 500 million active users!

Facebook stores personal information such as: full names, family names, age, date of birth, personal pictures, addresses and phone numbers, with this information that anyone could easily access, every user is very vulnerable to cybercrime. There are many other websites used other than social networking sites such as online banking, but there has recently been a significant rise in interest for social networking sites.

To try prevent this from occurring a user could use the settings provided on the sites which set your personal details to private so that only the people on the users friends list can see that information, therefore reducing the chance that a hacker or fraudster is going to steal the user's personal details, you could make your password something very hard to guess that you will remember and one other way you could prevent identity theft is by limiting the information you enter into the sites or being very discrete about what information you decide to enter.

Choosing an appropriate password can be linked to the Bryan Rutberg story but a more severe case is a Mr. Peg who had his PayPal account hacked which had his visa card details in the account, this meant that anyone who had control of his account could charge anything they wanted to his credit card. Mr. Peg did not know anything about what was happening until he received a phone call from a stranger from eBay asking for the payments he owed them. With Mr. Peg not knowing anything about what was happening he checked his PayPal account which had 23 charges to it.

It took a long time, a lot of arguing and filling forms out to straighten the mess out but it could have been avoided had Mr. Peg used a much harder password to guess on his account. Many people are careless when it comes to choosing a password to use for their online accounts making it just a matter of time before someone guesses it, increases in technology allow hackers to find and use software specifically programmed to rapidly try many different words to guess a person's password possibly leading to the access of your account whether it be a social networking site or a more severe case, a bank account.

The main problem people have is that they cannot remember the passwords if they are too difficult so they deliberately make their password very simple which is not always the best idea, the main way to make a password much harder to guess is by making it at least 8 characters long being constructed with letters (UPPER CASE and lower case), numbers and symbols. E. g. Aa1! Ss2", this makes it much harder to guess than qwertyui, which is very commonly used. It is estimated that over 80% of personal computers are infected with spyware and other malicious software that computers can be infected by.

"A New York marketing firm that as recently as two weeks ago was preparing to be acquired now is facing bankruptcy from a computer virus infection that cost the company more than $164,000. ""Hackers in Europe and China successfully broke into computers at nearly 2,500 companies and government agencies over the last 18 months in a coordinated global attack that exposed vast amounts of personal and corporate secrets to theft, according to a computer-security company that discovered the breach ...

Starting in late 2008, hackers operating a command center in Germany got into corporate networks by enticing employees to click on contaminated Web sites, email attachments or ads purporting to clean up viruses. " These are two very important examples of what effects malpractice and malicious software can cause to businesses and personal computers. You can be infected by many different types of malicious software such as: viruses which can display annoying messages on your screen, delete programmes or data and use up resources, making your computer run slowly.

Viruses can be easily made and spread across computers so it is very hard for antivirus software to keep up with it all. Trojans are programmes that perform legitimate tasks but every time you load the programme, it can delete data from your hard disk. Worms are very tricky to deal with as they automatically replicate themselves taking up masses of storage space and making your computer much slower to operate, therefore with the software replicating and your computer getting slower it makes it harder for you to delete the software from the computer.

Viruses can be spread through e-mails, an organisations intranet, shared disks, clicking banner advertisements on the internet and downloading things from websites on the internet. It is hard to combat viruses as there are so many constantly being produced. The best ways to prevent infection of viruses are to install antivirus software, update the software and run checks regularly, do not open e-mails from unknown sources and limit the download and upload access of network users in an organisation.

Legislation plays a big part in the fight against cybercrime with laws such as: The Computer Misuse Act 1990 which prevents any deliberate plant or transfer of viruses to cause harm to programs and data, it prevents any unauthorised work being done on an organisations computer, prevents the use of computers to commit various frauds and the hacking of someone else's computer system with an aim to seeing the information or altering it.

The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 makes it illegal to copy or steal software, this law makes it an offence to copy or distribute software or manuals without the permission or licence from the copyright owner, run purchased software on two or more machines at the same time unless there is a licence that allows it and finally to force employees to make or distribute illegal software for use by the company.

The Data Protection Act 1998, there are eight principles of the Data Protection Act, they can be summarised as: Data shall be processed faithfully and lawfully, processed for limited purposes, must be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose of processing the data, data must be accurate, must not be kept longer than necessary, must be processed in accordance with the data subjects rights, must be secure and not transferred to countries outside the EU without adequate security.

These laws are extremely valuable to the prevention of cybercrime and see thousands of criminals offending the laws jailed every year. In summary to the growth of cybercrime and how society can deal with it? There are many ways in which people can be affected by cybercrime and many ways in which they can fight against cybercrime, it is a matter of learning about the factors of which you can be affected by cybercrime and using the knowledge of how you can be affected to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of what can be a potential disaster to an individual or organisation.

For example if a business owner learnt all about what i have written in this essay and how his or her business could be affected by cybercrime, they could use their knowledge to teach their employees what they know so that they too could prevent themselves from being a victim of cybercrime. By doing this the knowledge could be passed on to other people making it much harder for malicious operation to affect people as more people would know about how to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of cybercrime.