Friday, December 02, 2005

The Fourth Quarter

In a lot of games, the fourth quarter can be critical. In the business world, the fourth quarter is so critical that it can dictate the financial stability, or ruin of many businesses. Quite simply, the holiday season, (fourth quarter) is when businesses either make their yearly goals, or don't. To add to this pressure, the level of fraudulent activity increases, having the potential to directly impact the success of the season, whether referring to a entire organization, or an individual human being.

There are some alarming trends to consider this year and in the future.

This time of year has always been known for increases in fraud, but increasingly it seems to becoming more and more "internet based" and organized. I've written about this in the past. Yesterday, I read an interesting article by Jack Germain entitled, The Real-Life Internet Sopranos that illustrates this growing danger.

In his well researched article, which quotes a lot of security experts, he writes, "Welcome to the age of the Internet gangster. Gone are the days when young computer nerds sat alone in their rooms figuring out how to break in to their schools' computer systems to change grades. Also fading into nostalgia are the times when hackers teamed up with small-time hoods to pull off credit-card scams that victimized local banks.

The days of spammers, phishers, and identity thieves -- the typical culprits of today's online crime stories -- are upon us. These criminals have created their own syndicates to invade your computers and crack your company's network security."

In fact, it seems that internet crime is becoming more profitable than the narcotics trade, Cybercrime yields more cash than drugs: expert - Yahoo! News. In this article by Souhail Karam, he quoted an advisor on cybercrime to the U.S. Treasury Department, Valerie McGiven; "No country is immune from cybercrime, which includes corporate espionage, child pornography, stock manipulation, extortion and piracy."

"Last year was the first year that proceeds from cybercrime were greater than proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs, and that was, I believe, over $105 billion."

A glaring example of the increase in potential risks is the IRS phishing attack that surfaced this week, following recent phishing attacks from the FBI and CIA that went worldwide (Fake IRS E-Mail Scam Goes Phishing). There is even mounting evidence that national security is being compromised by rogue governments, which I wrote about it my last post, US Military Hacked, Sober Worm Goes Worldwide, What Next? The cyberscum element, which I prefer to refer to them as, seems to be getting bolder and even mocking government institutions.

To a simple person, like me, who is merely an observer in the big picture, it does seem like the fourth quarter of a crucial game where my team is losing. Trusted government entities are being mocked and the criminal element is becoming more organized, taking advantage of weak laws and the far reaches of the internet. Until those who are in power start to realize the global magnitude of this problem and allocate sufficient resources to battle it, I'm afraid we will continue to see this problem grow.

Of course now is not the time to give up hope and the key is to continue to raise awareness and prevent the common person (all of us) from becoming another statistic in the growing number of victims from internet crime. Knowledge is key and awareness can defeat most of the scams that seem to face us, daily.