Are We Losing the War on Cyber Crime?

Mud Flap Lady

Identity Thieves Don't Need Computers

In the early 90's, before it was the norm for everyone to own a personal computer, my mother was the victim of identity theft. No, she didn't own a computer (in fact, she still doesn't!).

One sunny day, she was driving to visit an old friend, a few hours away from home. She stopped at a gas station to fill up her car and as she was leaving, she remembered she wanted to buy a bottle of water. So, she absentmindedly left her purse in the front seat...and her sunroof wide open.

You can guess what happened next.

My Mom...a criminal?

Though I'm not sure you would have guessed that for a while after that day, my mother had a warrant out for her arrest.

Well, not her exactly, but a woman who looked just like her and was impersonating my mom while committing other crimes. You would think that a woman in her early fifties, a victim of identity theft, would be facing only financial consequences, right? Maybe some excessive credit card charges or all of her money withdrawn from her bank account...as if that's not bad enough.

But when your mother is suddenly considered a wanted criminal in the state, whether or not she committed these crimes, you realize just how serious ID theft can actually be.

Computers Don't Help the Situation

One might assume that with all of the advancing technology, we'd be able to squash the efforts of cyber criminals and hackers. Just last week, Michael Gibbons, former chief of computer crime investigations at the FBI and now principal of security and privacy services at Deloitte said that the phishing problem is "getting scarier and scarier". Phishing attacks are becoming more sophisticated along with the technology. Even the notoriously computer savvy, online gamer is now being targeted through harmless looking trojans.

Listen & Learn

The need for better communication between local law enforcement and internet security experts is finally being realized. It was recently said at the 20th annual conference of the Forum of Incident Response and Security Teams, that the war against cyber crime was seriously in danger of being lost.

Many local law enforcement agencies have not wanted to bother with cases involving low value cyber crimes. To be fair, they do not feel they have had the resources while security teams' feel that the information they have provided goes in one ear and out the other.

Global Impact

This problem can also have a detrimental effect on the global internet economy. The repercussions of this growing fear is evident in official reports. A 2008 report for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said over 40 per cent of internet users do not make purchases online due to fear of online theft.

If consumers and companies better educated themselves on cyber security, they could reduce their risk of having their computers infected by trojans, spyware, and other malicious software. This is an urgent need simply because the world and its economy is becoming more and more reliant on the Web.

Lastly, my mother did finally work out her situation and is no longer wanted in connection with the thief's crimes. But just imagine how much more damage could have been done had the other woman gone around impersonating my mom in real life AND online!

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Comments 1 comment

Blake 8 years ago

Very informative article! Must have been an exciting time for your mother. Being a fugitive and all. Hah!

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