Before you dive right into the article, give this video a go:
The video you just watched, sponsored by Febelfin- the Belgian Financial Sector Federation, is a scary peek into the world of cybercrime. Did you grow suspicious of Dave the ‘clairvoyant’ while watching? Did you start to question how he knew how much money the people spent a month on alcohol? On clothing?
We’re always warned about the dangers of online banking, online shopping, online dating, and so many other transactions made through the Internet. We’re even cautioned about the content we post on social media. As the video points out, our lives are online, and that information can be used to harm us financially, professionally, or personally.
But what’s concerning is the growing number of online acts of crime, paired with a seemingly stagnant number of people unaware or disinterested in the issue.
In 2010, IC3– an organization that receives, develops, and refers complaints of cybercrime- received more than 26,000 complaints of the issue per month. A statement released by the FBI says this number represents a “3.4 per cent increase over 2010”, putting the reported dollar loss at $485.3 million. Evidence of an increase in cybercrime further justifies the need of consumers and Internet users to be extra vigilant.
According to identity theft expert John Sileo, a whopping 75 per cent of participants in an online consumer survey believed a firewall on their computer could protect them from cybercrime. What does this say about our knowledge of online crime and ‘cyber-intrusion’? Have we become absent minded with our daily Internet usage? Or do the majority of us believe our online identities will never be attacked? I think it’s probably a combination of both strains of thought.
If you find yourself a target of cybercrime, your identity might be stolen, your bank account may be depleted, or your personal information could be released for the world to see. There are obvious repercussions of falling victim to such an attack. Your professional life could be demolished. You could even be stranded in a foreign country with no money or passport to return home because somebody else has claimed himself as John Johnson.
So the next time you shop online, transfer money to old Aunt Martha, or decide to post a Facebook status about selling your home, remember that anything and everything can be used against you.
The Internet is a wonderful thing, presenting extreme convenience, but to every pro there is a con. Just be vigilant.
Until next time!