Written by Morgan Drayton
As the Internet becomes more prevalent in our society and many people live the majority of their lives through the internet, inherent problems with human nature begin to arise. People date, shop, learn, and play on the internet and in many ways it has replaced several aspects of natural human interaction. It’s a new platform for human life without the regulation, protection, and enforcements which a city and society do have. This provides a breeding ground for millions people who stand to benefit from a system that’s weak and quite manipulatable. These people are called cyber criminals, those who commit crimes anywhere from fraud and identity theft, to the distribution of child pornography and unregulated file sharing.
This is a billion dollar criminal industry that leaches money straight from consumers and big companies through the genius penetration and manipulation of security programs. Also known as hacking, this is the new frontier in multimillion dollar robberies, as well as a black market full of unregulated sharing of information and services. The days of robbing banks are dying out, as real security has become more difficult to contend with. Cyber crimes are the largest infringement upon personal property and privacy, surpassing the percentage of people affected by having tangible things taken from them.
Some may call these hackers nerds, but the fact of the matter is that many of these people are technological geniuses.
Many of them attack from unknown servers overseas, creating a web of distractions and illusions which make these criminals very hard to follow, track, and catch.
Last year in july, federal prosecutors announced the largest bust in cyber fraud history. Five men from several countries, including Russia and The Ukraine. These five men, utilizing their individual expertise, were able to go on a hacking and credit card fraud spree that cost companies more $300 million.
“Each of the men had specialized tasks—two hacked into networks, another mined them for data, another provided anonymous web-hosting services to hide the group’s activities, and another sold the stolen data and distributed the profits.”
Two of the men are in custody as of july 20, 2013. However, these men represent just a miniscule portion of hackers around the globe.
As 5 men, they were able to hijack over 30 million credit card numbers and the other required information, and then distribute and sell that information to people in the US, Canada, and Europe. The most striking of the companies hacked was Nasdaq, the american stock exchange. Other companies targeted by the hackers include a Visa Inc, J.C. Penney Co, JetBlue Airways Corp, a French retailer Carrefour SA, Dow Jones, Wet Seal Inc and 7-Eleven Inc.
“We hope that this indictment further delivers the message that prolific hacking organizations worldwide will be pursued and charged for crimes such as this one,” said a spokesman for one of the companies which got its information stolen.
National government organizations, like the FBI, do a large part in combating these criminals. Americans are indirectly responsible for being the largest percentage of cybercrime victims in the world.
The FBI does an outstanding job, trying their hardest to work with foreign governments to track down these major hackers. However, there are simply too many crimes and criminals to be able to catch them all. consequently, the FBI must put higher priority and resources towards the crimes which they consider worse than others.
“Cybercrime can be particularly difficult to investigate and prosecute because it often crosses legal jurisdictions and even international boundaries. And, many offenders disband one online criminal operation—only to start up a new activity with a new approach—before an incident even comes to the attention of the authorities. The good news is that federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities are becoming more sophisticated about and devoting more resources to responding to cybercrime. Furthermore, over the past several years, many new anti-cybercrime statutes have been passed empowering federal, state, and local authorities to investigate and prosecute these crimes. But, law enforcement needs your help to stop the nefarious behavior of cyber criminals and bring them to justice.”
Many of these hackers hail from countries in Europe with very little economic opportunity. An important player to recognize is Russia. Based on a recent questionnaire, 82% of hackers asked around the globe ranked Russian hackers #1. These hackers could use their abilities to make ten times the amount of money in America and Canada writing code than they can in Russia. But due to the countless reasons why it’s virtually impossible to emigrate to America for most of them, they must resort to criminal methods of attaining the money some would say they rightfully deserve. For these criminals, the majority of them are in it for the money. On the other hand we have agencies like the FBI whose sole duty is to protect the citizens of the country they serve.
There’s no question that the internet, and the resulting illegal activity won’t be going anywhere soon. This interconnected network has become one of the most essential aspects of our modern society. We’ve allowed ourselves to rely on the internet and let it permeate throughout our lives to the point that many people wouldn’t be able to function day to day without it. Therefore cyber crime will continue to be a problem the people of America and the rest of the world will have to deal with for many years to come.
In the next few years we can only hope that national governments and the UN will continue to come to a decision on how to treat cyber criminals and join forces for the sake of our generations safety and protection.