We all know there’s a lot of Internet crime; you know…fraud committed with the use of and within the Internet. But do you ever wonder why there’s so much of it or why it’s increasing at an alarming rate? There are many reasons, but the two I’d like to discuss here are:
1. the business-like success of organized cybercrime across the world;
2. computer users do not employ internet security best practices in order to adequately protect themselves, their computers, and their bank accounts.
Internet crime, for the most part, has been conducted by large, powerful, wealthy crime organizations located in Russia, such as the Russian Business Network (RBN); and other Eastern European countries, Korea, China and other countries. One of the reasons cyber crime has expanded rapidly in the past 2 or 3 years is that the largest of these cybercrime organizations are being run in similar fashion to large global corporations; most likely with business school graduates setting their strategic plans.
These organizations operate through the use of crime tools (malware) such as viruses, botnets, trojan horses, and other for-hire cyber weapons. This “criminal toolbox” can be related to the product line of a large business; with it’s attendant analyses of how much value a “product” is producing for the “business”. This evaluation of risk and reward of malware tools is, in part, responsible for the increase in activity of some “products” and the reduction or cessation of others by the bad guys. In recent years, they have also taken on the strategy to become suppliers of these malware “products” to other cybercriminals. Thus opening a new, but related product line.
Large cybercrime organizations supplying malware to others is the primary reason for the large increase in malware attacks we’re seeing now. These cybercrime kits of malware include everything an individual or organization needs to commit Internet crime quickly and effectively, with little or no experience required.
The second reason we’re seeing this increase in Internet crime is that so many of us are not protected by computer security best practices and therefore make it easier for the cyber crooks to infect our computers and get to our bank and credit card accounts.
We need to be more vigilant in our use of the Internet by installing the best computer security software we can afford; and by changing our mentality about use of the Internet. The easier of the two is to acquire good computer security software and properly install it on your computer. If you don’t know how to choose one and set it up properly, get a technical support technician to help you with it. Get someone from work, and/or pay someone to do it…it’s worth it to protect your assets from theft.
The second solution, changing our mentality about use of the Internet, is a little different. While it’s less expensive than purchasing software, it’s harder to implement because it involves changing human behavior. First, we must be aware of where we’re at on the Internet, whether it’s safe, who or what might also be where you are, and what potential threats may harm you. I liken this to how we should behave when in an area of town where crime is high, the street lighting in poor, we’re not quite sure where we are, or who might be a threat to us. Unfortunately, that is how we must behave in today’s Internet…cautiously, suspiciously and with some degree of paranoia.
This translates to: not opening email from anyone you don’t know or didn’t expect, don’t click on suspicious links, beware of scams, and educate yourself about the latest malware and frauds being committed by reading one or two Internet security related blogs or newsletters. You can Google any of these terms to find a blog or newsletters of this ilk. US CERT website has an Alerts page that explains the current activity and vulnerabilities in plain language.
The bottom line is that the Internet is a crime-laden environment that we should approach with extreme caution and be suspect of our surroundings when we are browsing. And therefore must use the very best Internet security software we can afford, installed properly and updated regularly.
Remember: be very careful—it’s dangerous out there.
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