"Hello sir, I am Kirti Gupta here. Some group of boys on facebook are harassing and bullying me by making my fake nude pics and posting them to public. They are even abusing me as well. I have been completely depressed of this. I thought of suicide at the first attemptâ€¦ " â€“
This quote is from the true story of an Indian teen who was nearly driven to suicide because of cyber crime, which is now a problem everywhere on the planet where people have access to the internet.
Cyber crime is currently a burning issue in the online world. Individuals or small groups seem to be responsible for most cyber crime, though there are reports of larger and more organized groups getting involved.
Until recently, hackers and cyber criminals were digging the trash or intercepting mail to steal personal information. But now they are acquiring the same information through social media and using the internet for identity theft by hacking into personal accounts and tricking unsuspecting people by sending deceptive email messages or introducing malware into their devices.
Online criminal communities share techniques and tools and have been known to join forces to launch synchronized attacks. There is even an underground marketplace where cyber scammers trade stolen information and identities.
Cracking down on cyber scammers is a real challenge because the Internet makes it simple for people to act anonymously and from any location around the world. Many of the computers that are used in cyber attacks have been hacked and are being manipulated by someone far away from the scene of the cyber crime. And since the laws regarding this kind of theft differ from country to country, it can be exceedingly difficult to identify and prosecute culprits who often work across international boundaries.
As information technology and access to the Internet become more widely available, cases of identity theft and cyber crime have increased dramatically, from stolen bank account PIN numbers to entire stolen identities. It is reported that the financial cost of this criminal activity worldwide has reached over $400 billion annually. According to Julian Assange, the founder of the activist group WikiLeaks, the internet has become the main medium for spying as well.
Experts in this new type of crime are advising people to limit the amount of financial data and personal information, including photographs, that they make available online to businesses, chat groups and social media social sites. Like the unfortunate Indian girl, users of these sites may find that their personal photos can be used to harass and even terrorize those who are too open about themselves online.
Internet security experts offer the following advice about various aspects of this recent crime wave that can help people to protect themselves from hackers and cyber criminals and acquire identity theft protection:
- Identity Theft has become a major problem for those who enjoy the convenience of banking, NEFT and other cash transactions over the internet. Hackers are stealing bank account numbers, debit and credit card numbers, social security numbers and other sensitive financial information in order to siphon other people's money into their own accounts or to buy goods online.
- Cyber Stalking involves online harassment through abusive or threatening emails, text messages and postings, which can even escalate to offline attacks. This bullying may be personal, or may be aimed at extorting money or information from victims.
- Hacking occurs when a criminal breaks into a system that is considered secure in order to access personal information or to introduce malware. In US, hacking is a felony, except of course when it is done by security experts who are testing a system's firewalls.
- Malicious Software or "malware" is a kind of computer program that is used to break into a secure network. This software is used to steal personal information or to take control of a computer so that it can be used in another crime; computers can become infected by these malicious programs without users having any idea that their system is compromised.
- Theft through the internet occurs on a large scale through the pirating of music and video in violation of the licensing policy for the original song or video. Thus there are websites that allow peer sharing of illegal movies and albums. Recently, the FBI has been targeting these sites in an attempt to prevent this type of downloading.
- Child soliciting and Abuse have been facilitated by the internet, with criminals targeting minors through chat rooms and social media sites for the purpose of making child pornographic videos or even kidnapping. Again, the FBI is monitoring the kinds of chat rooms that these criminals exploit in order to keep the web safe for children.