While it may be true that cyber crime doesn’t fit neatly into the restrictive classical definition of terrorism, (motivation is a definitive factor), nevertheless, cyber crime’s effect on Internet users’ is arguably similar – intimidation, coercion (think Rogue software), and instilling fear.
Motivation be damned! Simply because a hacker’s motivation is money, rather than political gain, hardly changes the effect of the crime. Cyber criminals, by my definition, are terrorists.
Consider the following two points:
If a group, or an individual, dug holes in a highway in your community making it unsafe to use, (put the motivation aside for a moment), how would you refer to that person, or group, based on the impact on you? The reality is – cyber criminals, blow holes in the Internet highway on a daily basis.
If you couldn’t get to work today, because a criminal gang held the subway system to ransom – with a bomb threat, how would you, or more particularly, law enforcement officials, refer to that group? The reality is – cyber criminals hold individuals, and web sites, to ransom every day.
As Shakespeare said, in Romeo and Juliet , “That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet.” The point being – it doesn’t matter what you call a thing; what matters is – what the thing is. Cyber crime though, is a misnomer – terrorism is not.
This morning, when I was editing my Tech Net News column, I included the following high profile cyber crime occurrences which were reported over this past weekend. I could easily have added a dozen more, all from the last few days, but I think the point was made.
Newest Social Net Scam: Stranded Friend – Analysis: Beware a common hoax involving a hijacked email account and a plea for quick cash from a familiar name.
Trojan attacks now almost solely from legitimate websites – According to reports, surfers are now almost always attacked from the hacked web sites of legitimate providers. Previously the general assumption was that malware was only found on sex sites and other shady web sites, but these days all you need to do is visit the site of your favorite newspaper to come under attack.
Reports of Possible YouTube Hack Light up Social Media Sites – Reports have surfaced on social media sites that YouTube may have gotten hacked and that Apple’s iTunes App Store may also be compromised.
App Store Hacked – Two iPhone App developers have spotted what appears to be a hacking of the App store rankings by a rogue developer. What’s more concerning is that it seems individuals iTunes accounts have been hacked to make mass purchases of that one developer’s apps.
Existing penalties for cyber crimes, including those mentioned above, are far less than adequate. So, calling cyber criminals what they are – terrorists; would open up a whole new spectrum of possibilities – including the application of criminal penalties, and sanctions, more in line with the true nature of the offense – terrorism.
I’ve always been curious as to why it is, governments and law enforcement agencies, protect us across a broad spectrum – from noisy neighbors, all the way to ensuring our safety while travelling on airplanes. And yet, these same governments and law enforcement agencies, leave it us, at an individual level, to deal with cyber crime.
This hands off policy has led to staggering costs to world economies – (a Trillion dollars or more, annually), and the impact on individuals, is immeasurable.
I suspect, that if cyber crime was referred to in a more appropriate manner – terrorism; we might find ourselves less alone in our daily struggle to stay safe on the Internet.
What do you think:
Are you tired and frustrated with having to deal with cyber crime on your own?
Should the nature of cyber crime be reflected in a more appropriate way, by calling it what it is – terrorism?
Should the penalties for cyber crime be set at a level commensurate with the true nature of the offense?
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