Monday, 17 March 2014

Irish Cybercrime Numbers Raise Concerns about Security

Attendees at a March 11 cybercrime conference hosted by the Cork Institute of Technology heard some startling information that raises new concerns about cyber security in Ireland and across Europe. According to experts, Internet users in Ireland are being targeted for cybercrimes at a rate of one-in-five. The conference went on to say that cybercrime negatively affected Ireland's economy to the tune of €350 million in 2013 alone.

According to The Independent, the 20% cybercrime rate in Ireland is probably not even accurate due to many of these crimes not being reported.  Crimes are underreported because at least some people do not even know they have been victimised.  If that's true, it just shows how oblivious Internet users are and how sophisticated cyber criminals have become in levelling their attacks.

The CIT conference suggested that roughly 80% of the cybercrimes in Ireland are related to credit card and bank fraud.  Among all such fraud cases, roughly 84% are related to crimes being committed by those who have stolen credit card information without actually possessing the card itself.  These crimes, known as 'card not present' crimes, are increasingly easy to pull off thanks to the proliferation of online purchasing.

Making matters worse is the fact that so many people are now engaged in questionable data communications practices, by way of mobile phones, without ever thinking about it.  Despite how far we have come in beefing up secure networking, the system is prone to breakdown with every new device added to it.  The proliferation of the smart phone is just making the problem that much worse.

Dr Stephen Minton, a psychologist at Trinity College Dublin, made that very point to The Independent.  He made note of the fact that primary school students are now coming to school with smart phones as young as age six.  Not only does Dr Minton believe this is unnecessary, he also warns it is contributing to the problem.

More Than Just Secure Connections

The one thing that was not mentioned in The Independent report was how all of this cybercrime relates to the modern world of cloud computing and virtualisation.  This aspect should not be ignored in the discussion of how to beef up cyber security.  The fact is that security is about more than just creating secure online connections with encrypted data transfers.  We also have to work on beefing up security at the physical locations where data is stored.

A number of recent high-profile cases have shown that hackers can breach a secure database and steal the data at will.  This is not a problem with Internet connections; it is a problem with secure cloud computing and virtualisation environments.  Somehow, cyber criminals are getting access to servers in order to steal information on credit cards and bank accounts.  That needs to change before we can ever hope to get close to solving the cybercrime issue. In the meantime, we must continue to be as vigilant as possible.

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