Is America Facing a Cyber Crime Epidemic?

Is America Facing a Cyber Crime Epidemic?

Dec 4th, 2014

Is America Facing a Cyber Crime Epidemic?

Riskope thanks Eve Pierce for her contribution.

Cyber Defense Operations Command Monitor

Cyber Defense Operations Command Monitor

When affordable cars were introduced to the American public in 1908, Henry Ford unknowingly brought in a new form of crime – technology assisted crime. Bank robbers became impossible to catch, speeding away from the police on horseback in their new Model T Fords. However, as usual, the authorities caught up with the criminals, and police cars by the thousands were brought in to deal with the threat this new accessible technology posed. Over a hundred years later and we are witnessing a similar situation with the internet. Tech savvy criminals have received a huge boost from the internet, and as the law struggles to catch up it is becoming clear that this time they do not have the resources or expertise to keep pace.

Cyber Crime Statistics

In 2007, over 200,000 complaints were filed with the Internet Complaint Centre (ICC). When you take into account that experts now agree only one in seven cyber crimes are reported, you can get a clearer picture of the enormity of the problem. In economic terms, in the US the Government accountability office has estimated the cost of cyber crime to be billions of dollars a year. A 2005 survey by the FBI found the annual loss to US based businesses from computer crime to be $67 billion. However, cyber fraud is a global issue and it’s not just US businesses and individuals that are bearing the brunt. A recent report by the UK government found the cost of cybercrime to be £27 billion ($42 billion) a year. As a large proportion of this crime in the UK was from targeting individuals and the authorities there are now advising the public to be constantly vigilant when submitting financial and personal information online. This education based approach to tackling the issue is less resource heavy than relying on struggling authoritative bodies and could be the key to reducing the level of cyber crime that is carried out globally. The educational approach, however, needs constant updating as criminals constantly evolve to become smarter and better equipped.

Ways to tackle cyber crime

As well as educating people, the GAO has identified four key ways in which they intend to stop cyber crime from becoming an epidemic:

  • Making sure law enforcement has the analytical and technical capabilities to tackle cyber crime
  • Encouraging the reporting of cyber crime
  • Working closely with other cyber crime authorities in different countries
  • Implementing top of the range security practices into the most at risk businesses

Out of all of these challenges, the most imminent is ensuring the existing law enforcement bodies have the right analytical and technical capabilities. Just as the 1908 police needed cars to catch criminals, today’s police need technology. Without the proper technology, the other challenges are pointless.

What resources do law enforcement need to tackle cyber crime

Law enforcement workers are in desperate need of knowledgeable investigators, top of the range computer forensic equipment and prosecutors that are well versed in the world of cyber crime. The high skill level required by cyber crime investigators, in both IT and investigation, is what is claimed to be hindering progress. The equipment used to tackle cyber crime is very technologically advanced and not everyone can be trained how to use it. If an officer decides to specialize in cyber crime, it takes up to a year to become proficient enough to work on cases. As a result, few departments are equipped with either the technology or staff capable of keeping up with the criminals.

What next for tackling cyber crime?

While the law enforcement agencies try to tackle the logistics of the cyber crime problem, the criminals are not sitting still and doing nothing. They are constantly advancing and finding new ways of dealing with their own problems rendering much of the training redundant before it’s even been implemented. The distance between the law and the criminals is quickly increasing in the digital age, some even believe that the cyber criminals are already out of reach. If this problem is to be contained and prevented from becoming an epidemic, law enforcement has to catch up quickly. This is the only option now. They need to recognise the broad global impact of the problem and work with the relevant authorities in other countries and meet the staffing and training requirements that will match up to the criminals. Most importantly they need to do it quickly or the money that is pilfered from honest businesses and individuals will continue to increase.


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Category: Consequences, Uncategorized

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