How To Address Cyber Crime In The 21st Century

2011 saw the highest number of ferocious cyber attacks ever. Frequently in the new was the hacking group Anonymous, which claimed responsibility for several attacks on government and security web sites, in addition to the publication of sensitive information which was previously thought to be safe from prying eyes.

Cyber crime costs companies and individuals billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, court cases and the development of solutions to prevent future attacks. And the level of recent attacks has some wondering whether it would be a better idea to recreate an internet that’s more secure. But is that really the only solution?

What the Internet Was Originally Meant To Do

Believe it or not, the internet itself was flawed from the beginning, considering how it’s currently being used. This is because those who designed it didn’t consider and therefore did not prepare for the eventuality that the information transmitted over it could be manipulated or become compromised.

Add to this that the actual technology of the internet has remained largely unchanged from the way it was at the beginning, and that most technologies were built with the foundation of this unchanged technology, and a logical argument for the stratospheric rise in cyber crime becomes much easier to understand.

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Some say that the internet can be made more secure by using technologies created for this purpose. Others are of the opinion that education about cyber crime is the only way to prevent it from occurring with such frequency.

Can We Rely On Regulation To Protect Us?

This question is, at its core, a dual-edged sword. Net neutrality is causing a stir online these days, and there’s a war going on between those who say the internet needs no further regulation and those who believe it does. Caught somewhere in the crossfire is, inevitably, the security of our information. Some believe that if we aren’t careful, any regulations which are implemented could infringe on our personal freedoms and rights.

But while this war is raging with regard to the regulation of the online world, people are wrestling with the threat of identity theft, malware and other forms of cyber crime on a daily basis. A person who has had their credit card information stolen as the result of an online purchase simply cannot wait for government bodies to figure out the best ways to address cyber crime.

How We Can Educate Ourselves

Although no security measure will offer 100% protection, a multi-pronged approach to the prevention of cyber crime can be more effective. And most measures can be implemented before one even turns on their computer.

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The main thing to understand is that we all have choices to make with regard to how we use the internet. We have complete control over much of the information that we share. For example, social media sites like Facebook attempt to personalize a user’s experience by tailoring their advertising to what that particular user has “liked” with the service.

Companies who advertise on Facebook, including Facebook itself may use any related information they find about you in any number of ways. This can largely be prevented by thinking about the amount of information you share with the site, from your place of work to the hobbies you enjoy.

The same rule can also apply to other web sites. If a site is asking for your information, asking yourself why is an important first step to protecting yourself. Next, looking further into a site’s policy can also answer some of the questions that may arise about security.

Protection Can Be Found In Simplicity

If your email account has been overtaken by an unscrupulous individual, changing your password is always a good idea. But it’s how you do so that can make all the difference. Using a free online password generator is one idea. But instead of simply taking the first generated password, opt to take pieces of several and use that combination as your password. Copy and paste the information into a Notepad file that’s been given a name completely unassociated with the information inside.

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Unless you are using a wireless network that you are completely confident is secure, avoid logging into sensitive sites such as your bank account while away from home, as many mobile wireless networks are teeming with cyber criminals waiting to intercept your information.

And in an email program, avoiding clicking on links until you’ve determined their validity and the identity of the sender is always a good idea. If you are receiving spam email, send it immediately to the trash and never reply to the spammer.

Jesse Schwarz is a freelance writer who enjoys researching internet technology and related issues.  One innovation he has recently written about is the wireless receiver at that describes how consumes have flexibility in their television viewing.

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