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The Economic Impact of Cyber-Attacks, Research Paper Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1468

Research Paper

There are many security threats that people experience on a regular basis. In the modern setting, the greatest security risks result from our intensive computer and Internet usage. Millions of people across the world have access to the Internet either on a laptop computer or a cellphone, yet these same millions don’t have a full understanding of the steps that they can take to remain safe. When computers were first popularized, download speeds were slow and Internet use was minimal among members of the general population. As such, some criminals did use the Internet in order to commit crimes, but these individuals were very few in number. As time has progressed, technology related crimes have become more prevalent. We need to constantly worry about preventing viruses and other programs from slowing down our computers, scam e-mails from individuals tricking us to collect our private information, and companies our individuals stealing our information for resale or other forms of attacks. It is important for every individual to understand how to use the Internet safely to prevent against these types of problems from occurring.

Digital security risks can be broadly defined as events or actions that could cause a loss of or damage to a computer or mobile device hardware, software, data, information, or processing capability (Shelly &Vermat, 2013). Meanwhile a cybercrime is defined as an Internet-based illegal act. When a breach of data has occurred and this information is used in a manner that contradicts the law, it could be said that a cybercrime has occurred. There are many cybercrimes currently known. Some of these crimes can occur purely on the Internet, others will require the criminal or victim to take a physical action, and yet others will require both the criminal and the victim to take action after their initial interaction online.

One of the most frequently discussed cybercrimes is cyber bullying because this crime disproportionately impacts school children. Many school aged children have cellphones and other forms of Internet access, so it is important to consider that any individual that has access to such a device could be involved in this crime. Individuals that use social media like Facebook or Twitter are also likely to become victims or criminals due to the enhanced ability that such applications provide people with to communicate with one another. Attacks have been coordinated through the use of social media. In other cases, the bullying has existed in verbal form and used to lower the self-esteem of the victim. Some of these verbal abuse victims have committed suicide for this treatment. As a consequence, since physical or mental harm can befall individuals that are victims of cyber bullying, the police have arrested individuals for their involvement for such crimes. In addition, even when arrests have not taken place, the schools have suspended or expelled children for their actions. These types of crimes typically occur among students in middle school, although many high school students are involved with this type of crime as well. It is therefore important for both schools and parents to become involved in understanding this type of crime in addition to determining how they can teach their children to act appropriately on the Internet.

Another type of common crime is called a phishing scam, in which individuals will send the victim an e-mail that prompts them to respond with personal information. This information is then typically used to hack credit cards or bank accounts, or do other types of financial damage (Gordon, 2002). A majority of the individuals targeted for these crimes are elderly individuals who do not understand proper Internet usage. Many of these e-mails are sent out in mass each day in an attempt to find individuals who will engage with the sender.  Often, these individuals will claim that the e-mail recipient has won some kind of prize or gained an inheritance from a deceased individual (Cashell et al., 2004). They are then asked to provide their personal information, including their name, cell phone number, address, and sometimes even bank account number in order to redeem this prize. Providing the scammer with this type of information can possibly result in identity theft or other forms of damage. It is challenging for local law enforcement to stop this type of crime because these crimes are often conducted by people living in different countries. Therefore, even if the criminal could be tracked, international law often prevents these bases from being brought to court.

An additional concern that many Internet users have in today’s world is that their computers are infected with many different viruses and malware that contribute to decreased functioning of the computer. These damaging programs often are downloaded when individuals believe that they are downloading a program that they are really interested in, but find that they have downloaded this file as well. These viruses occasionally have no important function and can be removed easily using anti-virus software, however others can permanently damage the system and others can even hack the information that the computer has stored. Once these individuals have this information, they are able to conduct crime similarly to the individuals that use phishing scams. Some individuals use this information to take control over the individual’s computer or hack their e-mail and will agree to release these if they are paid a fee of their choosing. In other cases, malware can be used to gain control over e-mail and other important accounts to steal important information.

It is important for information technology professionals to spread awareness about security infractions and how they can be avoided. Doing so is even more important in the business world in cases where individuals have a greater amount of personal information to protect. For example, health care institutions collect a lot of data from their clients. Typically, breaches are due to either hackers or unethical employees. Thus, information technology professionals can do much to ensure that data is protected in the company. A component of the solution to this problem would be to ensure that employees that have access to sensitive health data have passwords for their accounts that are challenging to guess and not recorded anywhere near their workspace (Gasser, 1988). In addition, computers should have an instant lockout to ensure that employees cannot accidentally leave their computer programs to be open and breached by an unethical individual at the organization.

It is important for companies and individuals to have access to firewall programs and anti-virus software to ensure a higher level of protection. Even though this software cannot possibly fight every attack, it will be able to stop the large majority of them. Many software security programs offer constant updates so it is helpful for computer users to accept new downloads from such programs to ensure that their system has the latest anti-virus software installed. New threats are developed all of the time so it is equally important for anti-virus software companies to conduct research on this basis and modify computer programs as needed.

Many people around the world are involved with Internet crime without truly being aware of this fact. On a daily basis, people download and access media that has been uploaded to the Internet in a manner that does not comply with copyright or trade laws. The people who use or transfer this material, therefore, are engaging in criminal piracy acts. However, these crimes are so commonplace that people typically do not acknowledge that they are committing them. While it is not typical for individuals to be caught for this type of crime, many colleges and universities have been able to track students that frequently downloaded many suspicious files. These individuals are often banned from the Internet for a period of time in order to protect the network. Thus, even though there is not a way to punish these people in terms of the law for committing these crimes, network managers can detect these infractions and determine whether or not people should be able to use the network on this basis.

Overall, there are many infractions that people can conduct in order to be considered a criminal or victim of Internet crime. It is important for all computer users to be aware of safe use of technology so they can successfully avoid being harmed while using the Internet. Since police forces are typically not involved in the enforcement of Internet behaviors, it is important for all users to take safety into their own hands.

References

Cashell, B., Jackson, W. D., Jickling, M., &Webel, B. (2004). The Economic Impact of Cyber-Attacks. Congressional Research Service, Government and Finance Division. Washington DC: The Library of Congress.

Gasser, Morrie (1988). Building a Secure Computer System. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 3.

Gordon, Lawrence. (2002). The Economics of Information Security Investment. ACM Transactions on Information and System Security, 5(4): 438–457.

Shelly, G.B., Vermatt, M.E. (2013). Discovering Computers & Microsoft Office 2013: A Fundamental Combined Approach, 1st Edition.

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