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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
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Computer Hacking

Cybercrime is a major problem in modern society, yet there isn’t a sufficient response from policymakers when it comes to providing law enforcement in cyberspace. When you’ve been hacked, robbed, or subjected to any form of criminal behavior online, who do you call?

Cybercrime has become a disturbing problem for many ordinary people in the US and around the world. A review of RSA’s 2011 Cybercrime Trends Report demonstrates that the crime rates are high and growing, are damaging to the global economy, and that there is a competitive market for malicious software aimed at average citizens.

According to Symantec’s 2011 Cybercrime Report, “Cybercrime is bigger than the global black market in marijuana, cocaine and heroin combined ($288bn) and approaching the value of all global drug trafficking ($411bn).”

Symantec’s report stated that 69% of the people surveyed in 2010 said they were a victim of a cybercrime. 75% of millennial responders (who are between the ages of 18 to 31) said they were victims of cybercrime.

College students are a particularly vulnerable group as they live their lives through the internet. This includes extended use of social network sites – including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter – which expose their private information.

One of the most notorious schemes is known as “Koobface,” a cybercrime network orchestrated by Chinese and Russian gangs to get unsuspecting social network users to download malicious software to get at their personal information.

In short, cybercrime is a global problem with real and serious consequences and presents a pressing conundrum for policymakers around the world.

What have policymakers done to make cyberspace safer for the average citizen? The FBI, Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense are all taking active measures to secure US networks in their respective domains of operation and legal bailiwicks. If one wants to report a cybercrime in the US, the FBI has set up a task force to handle all reports of cybercrime with the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section.

The trouble is, most local law enforcement institutions don’t have the resources or capacity to respond to reports of cybercrime. Though the FBI website shows that many cyber criminals are brought to justice, many are not due to the high degree anonymity allowed by the nature of cyberspace and the skills of the cyber-criminals themselves.

Is there no hope? There has been significant progress on the law enforcement side. The recent arrest of Jeffrey Parson, a high school senior from Minnesota accused of causing damage through spreading a variant of the Blaster Worm, was a “rare victory.” It was rare because the original creators of Blaster Worm and many other perpetrators of cybercrime have yet to be caught and are not likely to be caught anytime soon, for the same reason that the FBI catches a short list of cyber crooks. The cybersecurity skills of the FBI fall short due to lack of personnel and training.

If the local and federal government can’t be relied upon to fill the cybersecurity needs of the average citizen, who should one call when there’s a cybercrime? Private cybersecurity companies. These companies have the resources for your everyday personal and business cybersescurity needs.

Cyber law enforcement has a long way to go before it can say that it’s fighting cybercrime effectively. What does this mean? It means that cybersecurity for average citizens is largely dependent on the services of private firms – including Symantec, RSA, McAfee, Verisign and others.

The sad reality of cybersecurity in the US and elsewhere leaves much to be desired, but there is hope. The millennial members of our society (the young people) are the manifestation of this hope.

The shortage of human capital in the cybersecurity field is a major vulnerability in addressing US national security needs to combat cybercrime and cyber threats emanating from state actors.

UMB offers a number of courses on information security through the School of Management, and more generalized computer science courses related to this emerging field via the Department of Computer Science.

Hope exists, and it will come in the form of determined young people who are committed to a career in cybersecurity.

About the Contributor
Dillon Zhou served as opinions editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2010-2011