26 September 2011

Cybercrime today: A web of evil

Hendi Yogi Prabowo, Yogyakarta | Mon, 09/26/2011 8:59 PM

Norton’s recent global cybercrime report, the “Cybercrime Report 2011”, revealed that whereas the most prevalent type of attacks are computer viruses and malware, mobile device users are now more vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals than before. According to the report, 10 percent of adults online have experienced cybercrime through their mobile phone.

According to the “Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, Volume 16”, printed in April, there has been an increase in mobile vulnerabilities from 2009 to 2010, which suggests the cybercriminals are now focusing more on mobile devices. The “opportunity makes the thief” case is also supported by the report, which proposes that the increasing use of social networking along with the lack of protection may have created opportunities for more cybercrime attacks to occur.

Total losses from cybercrime worldwide were estimated by Norton’s global cybercrime report to be US$114 billion annually. From this amount, the report added $274 billion-worth of time lost due to cybercrime experience, giving a total figure $388 billion.

According to the report from the Indonesia Security Incident Response Team on Internet Infrastructure (ID-SIRTII), the number of internet users in Indonesia is estimated to be at least 45 million and is expected to reach 60 million particularly due to the rising mobile access trend.

Furthermore, the ID-SIRTII report also mentions that that Indonesia’s internet access and device ownership ratio and the growth of the number of gadgets are considered the highest in the ASEAN region despite the economic recession period. These are also complemented by the rapid decrease in service tariffs in Indonesia, which is considered to be the most rapid in the ASEAN region.

Currently, Indonesian society is transforming into an “online society” as a result of the growing popularity of, among other things, social networking services, blogging, microblogging, chatting and gaming, to name a few examples. According to the ID-SIRTII, those statistical trends show that Internet dependency is on the rise as a result of the more widespread use of the technology. On the other hand, this is also accompanied by the increasing risk of cybercrime.

In 2010, according to the ID-SIRTII’s data, there were many cybercrime incidents including identity theft, account hijacking for fraudulent purposes (e.g. defamation), fraud (e.g. the Nigerian scam), online gambling, pornography, money laundering and terrorist financing. Despite the existence of the Law on Electronic Information and Electronic Transactions in Indonesia, many of these cases remain unsolved due to particular inherent difficulties in investigating cybercrimes such as jurisdictional problems and a lack of skilled human resources.

Although some may think that cybercrime only happens in cyberspace and losses are just financial figures, in reality it is more than meets the eye. It is frightening to imagine what criminals could do with the huge amount of proceeds from their crimes.

Recently, the world commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The incident has changed the world as we know in many ways, particularly related to national and international security issues.

Reports from various organizations around the world indicate that cybercrime has been a common means of funding terrorist activities. Credit card fraud, for example, is believed to have been used by terrorists to finance their activities, including one of the most devastating attacks ever — the 2002 Bali bombings. In other words, when ignored, cybercrime could potentially threaten our safety as well.

To address this problem effectively, a holistic approach needs to be adopted that encompasses multiple areas such as detection, prevention and prosecution. For example, customer awareness should always be enhanced by providing information and guidance for avoiding being victimized by cybercriminals.

On the other hand, law enforcement personnel’s knowledge and expertise should also be upgraded for coping with cybercrime issues for the sake of effective investigations and prosecution of offenders. To minimize the jurisdictional problems regarding the borderless nature of cybercrime, extensive cooperation among law enforcement agencies should always be sought. To ensure the effectiveness of these efforts, cutting edge technology and strong legal system are among the essential elements in the process.
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