Week 3 Notes
Why do people commit cyber crimes? The motivations for these crimes mirror those of
typical street crime, though cyber crime makes it easier to reach a victim remotely. This
distance can also embolden a potential offender who would not have the courage or
means to confront a victim in real life but is protected by distance and anonymity when
striking via cyberspace. Motivations can include these factors:
Boredom or challenge: Early in the lifespan of cyber crime, amateur hackers
amused themselves by attempting to gain access to the networks of businesses
and organizations. It became a matter of pride to prove one's skills by hacking
into a restricted network.
Politics or religion: This category seems to be more and more active in recent
years. Emotions tend to run very high when certain topics arise. People with
strong opinions on certain topics may take their message beyond simple
communication and into the realm of threats or cyber vandalism in defense of
Desire for money: Whether we're talking about an offender who uses a
computer to divert funds from a business or a professional hacker who performs
cybercrime tasks for hire, money lies at the heart of many cybercrimes.
Sexual impulses: Those with impulses that cross into the realm of the illegal
may turn to the internet to satisfy their desires. Digital file sharing and live video
applications such as Skype or Facebook Live provide opportunities for those who
wish to trade in child pornography or indulge other sexual desires that require
them to remain anonymous or distant.
Emotion: Earlier we talked about stalking and so-called revenge porn. These
destructive actions can stem from the emotions of sadness or anger, particularly
when a romantic relationship ends. The emotion of anger can also lead a fired
employee to strike against his employer.
Protecting one's self against cyber crime becomes more difficult the more we
connect to the internet. By using your smartphone or computer to shop online,
send emails, or monitor your home security cameras, you are connecting your
devices (and all the data they have stored) to computers under someone else's
control. Most of the time you are dealing with a trusted partner. However, when
you open that door to your device, there may be others slipping through.
Most individual users are well aware of the basic means of protection, but often
fail to heed good advice. Passwords should not be shared with others, and
should be a random string of letters, numbers, and symbols. Using the name of
your pet or child is not good protection. You should also use a different
passwords for different websites. Hackers who steal passwords often sell or
share them widely, so if your stolen password would only grant someone access
to one website or account, then at least your others remain secure.
All devices should be equipped with the latest anti-malware software, and you
should regularly back up your important data to a drive that is detached from your
computer. Fortunately, large storage devices for this purpose are inexpensive.
Here's a tip not many people know. Some viruses are programmed to scan hard
drives looking for credit card numbers. If you have your card numbers stored in a
document, you should disguise it. These viruses look for strings of numbers that
look like xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx. Keep card numbers on file in some other format so
that the malware does not recognize them as a card number.
Another important safeguard is to avoid shopping or transmitting confidential
information when using a public WiFi signal, such as at a coffee shop. Identity
thieves have an easy time intercepting wireless signals in such locations.
The Federal Trade Commission offers some more tips to secure your information
Businesses and government organizations need to adopt strong protections
against cyber crime. It is well–known that foreign governments and hacker
groups routinely attempt to penetrate the computer networks of government
agencies. For example, the Chinese government is known to have accessed
plans for the US Air Force's F-35 fighter plane.
Dangerous intrusion need not be limited to military matters; simply being able to
read the confidential emails exchanged among FBI agents or negotiators working
on a trade agreement can certainly do considerable damage.
In addition, hackers often target large organizations and steal account
information. Yahoo has been hit at least three times, with hackers stealing data
such as email addresses and birth dates from many millions of customers.
To combat these intrusions, large organizations employ teams dedicated to
securing their networks. These teams utilize techniques such as a "honey pot." A
honey pot is a section of the network that is made to appear attractive to a
hacker but which really contains no vital information. By luring an intruder into the
"honey pot," technicians can then try to identify the intruder. As we'll see in the
next section, though, even if an intruder is identified it can be difficult or
impossible to prosecute.
To help businesses and government agencies battle cyber threat, the FBI
created a group called Infragard , which is a partnership between the FBI and
key local organizations around the country. The FBI shares intelligence it gathers
regarding known hacking or denial-of-service attacks, to help organizations
defend against them.
The FBI also maintains the Internet Crime Complaint Center (abbreviated as IC3)
in order to collect reports of cyber crime. You might find the IC3 a valuable
resource for research on these topics.
The United States Secret Service also battles cyber crime as part of its mission.
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