Every day millions in some cases billions of dollars are made by businesses from income brought in by online sale of products and services. As businesses continually develop and expand their client base with online products and services so does the desire by criminals to exploit vulnerabilities in their e-commerce setup. The mass worldwide internet usage growth within the last 20 years has been “an approximate 16 million users in 1995 to an estimated 2,937 million in March of 2014” As the importance of e-commerce increases so does the need to protect the technological infrastructure that will carry out online transactions for each business regardless of its size. I will attempt to highlight and review the history of a few cyber crimes to show the progression of the crimes within the last 30-40 years. I also plan to review how the economy and consumers are impacted by cyber crimes. Finally I will make an effort to contribute with information gathering on how to lower the risk of a cyber attack from and individual user to a large scale business.Order now
The term “hacker” has been in use since the early 1980’s due to mass media usage to describe computer criminals. The use of this term is vastly used by the general population and most are not aware that there are different meanings to the word. People within the computing community especially within the programming subculture emphasize the use of the term “crackers” for computer security intruders (cyber criminals). Early hackers rarely used their skills for financial gain as a motivation for their criminal behavior in that time cybercrime was infantile and largely seen as a practical joke or game by those who committed it. Bob Thomas created the first credited computer worm named Creeper which is an example of early cyber crime in 1970’s.
The Creeper worm was able to gain independent access via modem and copy itself to remote computers. Computers that were infected by the virus displayed the message, “I’m the creeper: catch me if you can.” In 1981 Ian Murphy aka “Captain Zap” was the first cyber criminal to get convicted; he infiltrated AT&T computers and changed the billing clock. The changed to the billing clocks caused people to received discounted billing rates during normal business hours. As time progressed so did the criminal sophistication as well as the damages to individuals and companies. In 1999 David Smith created the worm virus “Melissa” which traveled via Outlook. The Melissa virus was responsible for an approximate 500 million dollars in damages as it halted computer networks of at least 300 corporations. On a much larger scale “Titan Rain” was the named dubbed by the US Government to a series of carefully calibrated and almost untraceable cyber attack that were ongoing for at least three years. The Titan Rain attacks were traced back to the Chinese government, it widespread and targeted the computer networks of NASA, US Military Defense Information Agency, Naval System Center, Lockheed Martin, Redstone Arsenal, and Sandia National Laboratories. The main purpose of the attacks were to gather intelligence and classified data as well as to find ways to leave computer “backdoors” open to allow other to infiltrate computer networks and systems for future attacks. The brief cyber crime history presented displays a quick glance of how cyber crimes have escalated in a short number of years.
Proliferations of cyber crime activities have been increasingly more apparent within the last few years. Mainly due to tighten spending by the private sector and reduced financial liquidity made worse by the economic crisis. The costs associated by cyber crimes are extremely difficult to pin point as there are many factors to consider that can make up losses seen by individuals or businesses. Factors to consider in losses due to cyber crime are stock market manipulation, loss of sensitive data, intellectual property, productivity interruptions, and reputation damage. The ramifications of a single, successful cyber attack can have extensive implications that may include financial losses and loss of consumer confidence and trust. The overall monetary impact of cyber crime on society and government is estimated to be billions of dollars a year. “1 million-plus adults become cybercrime victims every single day and, if you break that down, it equates to a staggering 12 victims per second” The economic loss of cyber crimes is just a raw estimation as it provides base of the damage caused by illegal activities.
Consumer confidence has been severely damaged by the increase of cyber attacks and security breaches on individuals as well as large corporations. Recent examples of large scaled businesses that have encountered a cyber crime break-in within the last year were Target, Kaiser, and EBay. In large break-ins like the examples mentioned the majority of consumers feel that it is the corporations’ responsibility to protect them against fraud from such attacks that have been linked to stealing their personal information. Consumers also believe that retailers, credit card companies, and banks are not doing enough to protect the data they are entrusted with by consumers. The annual Symantec firm research study which reviews consumers’ online behaviors also highlights the dangers and financial cost of cyber crimes. The data in the Symantec research confirms the concerning results of the increase in cyber attacks. “Cyber criminal activities and related profit are in constant growth, the cost per cybercrime victim is up 50 percent, and the global price tag of consumer cyber crime is $113 billion annually.” The rise in cybercrime for large corporations is mainly due to inadequate protection of the companies as not enough time and resources are allocated to help minimize the risks. This creates the perfect ground of conditions for the criminals; as it makes cyber break-ins almost untraceable due to the time gab between the security violation and the point of discovery by the victim. The time gap also creates difficulty in building a prosecution case against intruders making cybercrimes far less risky than any other type of crime which is very much appealing to cyber criminals.
It is clear that cyber crime is a huge problem threatening the private and public sectors as well as the integrity of the data within the internet. Prevention from attacks is the key although it may seem as an impossible task to accomplish with the many factors that need to be considered to have a secure computer infrastructure. The department of Homeland Security provides a list of security measures to follow to help with the prevention of cyber crimes for all types of computer users.
• “Never click on links in emails.
• Never open the attachments.
• Do not give out personal information
• Set secure passwords and don’t share them with anyone.
• Keep your operating system, browser, anti-virus and other critical software up to date.
• Verify the authenticity of requests from companies or individuals by contacting them directly.
• Pay close attention to website URLs.
• For e-Mail, turn off the option to automatically download attachments.
• Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent through email or text message. “
In conclusion cyber crimes are acts against confidentiality and integrity by the illegal access to a computer system. Cyber attacks will continue to be on the rise if the gap between security violation and discovery is not tightened as well as the implementation of harsher punishments on cyber criminals. Cyber crimes throughout time have evolved from simple system infiltrations to display the ability of a break-in for self satisfaction to multi-million loss threats to both individuals and companies. Successful system infiltrations can have devastating outcomes from individual user file corruption or file encryption for extortion to large scale security data loss breach of a large corporation. All internet users need to be vigilant in tracking and combating cyber crimes. Securing the network infrastructure as well as the operating systems is a crucial part of a proactive strategy to defend cyber crimes. A recovery plan must be in place as a preventative measures incase all other security measures fail.
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