Published on July 26th, 2018 | by Sunit Nandi0
Crime & Technology: The Future of Policing
What do credit card fraud, virus and malware dissemination, and email phishing all have in common? They all use technology to seize your data, using it against you in one form or another. Small businesses, corporations, and individuals alike have fallen victim to massive data breaches and identity theft.
A cyber attack can be carried out with relative ease, and with the invention and expansion of devices that make up the IoT, the connectedness and constant transfer and storage of data has allowed cybercrime to erupt significantly in recent years. As a result, cybersecurity professionals are in high demand to combat these thieves. To help, law enforcement is having to rethink their methods, relying on big data and analytics to stop these criminals before they can commit these scams.
(Photo Credit: Pixabay)
Below are some common cyber attack methods, as well as how police are using online and offline techniques to catch criminals and stop them in their tracks.
Criminals can nab your information through a series of scams and hacks. The information they obtain can be used to access your financials, sensitive material to blackmail you, or spy on you. Some common cyber attacks include:
Ever gotten an email from a Nigerian prince promising you riches later if you only give them money now? Or, the “IRS” threatening to sue you over unpaid taxes? There are many stories in phishing schemes that criminals use to prey on your fear or trusting nature. These fabrications are designed specifically for getting your credit card information, threatening you to pay them directly, or trying to get you to click a link in an email which will download a virus to your device.
Malware, or malicious software, is dangerous because of its ability to spread to any device in a network. Spyware, worms, viruses, trojan horses, and ransomware can be used to grab sensitive information from an individual or conduct a massive data breach on a corporation — revealing financial records and other information leading to identity theft, credit card fraud, blackmail, and various other cybercrimes. Bradley University describes one such ransomware attack on a healthcare organization and its implications:
The attack involved malware known as WannaCry, a program that hijacks important data and demands a ransom payment be made via the internet currency bitcoin. The May 2017 attack was especially consequential because it affected a number of health care organizations within Britain’s National Health Service. CNN explained that as many as 16 practices were targeted, leading to canceled outpatient appointments and a suspension of some crucial services.
Who Does Cybercrime Affect?
Due to our reliance on IoT and interconnected devices, most anyone can become a victim of a cyber attack. Our smartphones, computers, iPads, etc., can lead a hacker right to our bank accounts, important or sensitive files, and other places that weren’t meant to be seen publicly. It seems no one is safe, as even the FBI has been targeted for the confidential data they hold.
If hackers will make an attempt on the FBI, there’s no telling what they can do to the everyday individual. Cybersecurity experts have their hands full coming up with solutions to protect against cyber attacks, but as soon as they do, criminals find a new way to get to information that is not theirs. This battle has been going on since thieves first discovered they could take advantage of people on the internet. So, is there any winning this cyberwar, or what Andrew Weisberg calls America’s new exorbitant panic? Weisberg says “not without changes in technology or changes in behavior.”
It seems like law enforcement is making this change in their technologies and enlisting in big data while encouraging the general public to change their behavior to protect their data. Law enforcement is deploying both methods to deter criminals from stealing data, and in some cases stopping the crime before it even happens.
Law Enforcement Using IoT to Help Criminals
With cybercrime becoming so rampant, precautionary measures must be deployed so that you don’t fall victim. Your IoT devices produce an enormous amount of data and/or sensitive information; your smartphone may have your bank’s app downloaded on it which hold your financial information, or your computer may have stored passwords and credit card information. Both devices have a camera and microphone that can be used to spy on you. With the increasing amount of smart devices made to make your home and life easier — smart TV’s, Amazon’s Alexa, etc. — it only leaves more opportunity for criminals to access your data. Law enforcement urges you to make their job easier in recognizing this fact and protecting yourself. However, they are prepared for a criminal strike.
In many cases, a cyber attack can be prevented by you, as it is mostly carried out successfully due to user error or negligence. It is recommended that you understand phishing scams and ask questions to make sure an agency is legitimate before you give out information or money to them. Additionally, use sound judgment and trust your gut when prompted to pay cash (such as in the case of the Nigerian prince email). Also, do not click on a link in an email sent to you by someone you do not know, as it can lead to your device downloading malware. Lastly, and most importantly, you must have anti-virus software installed on your computer to detect when you have been targeted by a criminal.
Your IoT devices are targeted by criminals, so why not use your devices to target them? Cameras, smart locks, and motion sensor lights for your house can have the capabilities to alert you and the police if they detect anything, or are tampered with in any way. Your smart cameras can photograph a criminal, and other devices can notify law enforcement so that they can apprehend a criminal.
Big data and predictive analytics are also helping law enforcement in this battle. Facial recognition software is now available, and an enormous database can be readily accessed to gain better information on a criminal. If a criminal does have your credit card and is trying to purchase anything, predictive analytics will alert that there is suspicious activity on your bank account — stopping a thief before they can cause significant damage to your bank account. The sad fact is that during cyber attacks that involve credit card fraud and identity theft, it can be challenging to find out precisely who is committing the crime. It is now becoming easier to prevent the crime, instead of waiting for it to happen and trying to find out who did it afterward.
Criminals are becoming more and more creative when it comes to cyber attacks, and our devices are too integral in our lives to give them up. This dilemma will only be solved by recognizing the key signs of a scam, as well as using data and analytics and devices to prevent these attacks. In the upcoming years of this battle, it is up to the general public and law enforcement to help turn the tides and make it impossible to carry out a cyber attack.