Thursday, 14 February 2013
Japanese Case Demonstrates Cyber Security Weaknesses
Despite ongoing efforts by IT professionals to design and build secure computing environments, cyber criminals remain a step ahead most of the time. This grim reality is clearly illustrated by a recent case of cybercrime in Japan. The case involves a group of four men who were arrested and wrongly accused of sending threatening digital messages.
At the heart of the case is the police investigation that initially centred around the IP addresses from which the messages were sent. Those IP addresses were used to identify the four men who were later found to be innocent of the charges. The good news is that it laid bare the weaknesses of cloud computing, hosting, and other IT services in terms of security.
One of the positive aspects of the case is that the Japanese government is now aggressively working on ways to better investigate cybercrime in that country. They will be stepping up training efforts among investigators as well as compiling information about how cybercrime investigations are conducted.
News reports say Japan's National Police Agency will put together training materials based on results of recent cybercrime investigations, including the case mentioned at the start of this article. Those training materials will be used to initiate better practices among Japan's crime investigators.
Furthermore, out of the 545 new police officers expected to be added in Japan next year, nearly 272 would be specifically assigned to investigate cybercrime. Japan is taking this issue seriously on every front. So much so, they are also looking into joining forces with the private sector to come up with the best ways to investigate cybercrime and prevent future criminal activity.
To the IT community the story from Japan is just a further reminder that completely foolproof security is not possible. In fact, the more complex a system becomes, the easier it is to penetrate. As creative as the hacking community is, it's not likely their activities will ever be completely abolished.
Making things worse is the intrinsic vulnerability of cloud computing in the modern era. That's one of the reasons why cloud representatives are having a hard time convincing businesses and individuals to convert. Moreover, while cloud security has vastly improved over the years, there will always be that inherent mistrust when computer users are depending on complete strangers to keep their information private.
Users can help themselves by learning to identify the signs of a hijacked computer. Those signs include inexplicable reductions in data transfer times, erratic software behaviour, unexplained computer crashes, slow routers, strange e-mails, and any other odd circumstances observed in the course of regular computing activity.
Of course, the obvious deployment of anti-virus and malware software cannot be ignored. It is imperative every Windows and Mac machine be properly equipped, scanned on a regular basis, and cleaned when necessary. The more IT companies and users practice diligent security, the less opportunity will be given to cyber criminals and their undesirable activities.