Cybercrime the focus of a new government security initiative


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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cyber security is one of the most important factors for all individuals, businesses and government agencies to focus on in 21st century life. Social, business, financial and educational sectors have all moved to the web to stay present and alive in the current market. Without an online presence, there’s sadly little chance of being noticed. As life rapidly continues to gravitate onto the World Wide Web, a new set of security challenges arise. Unfortunately, as the world moves online, every aspect of society seems to follow – crime included.

With so much freedom, limited regulations and largely faceless interaction, online criminal activity can be a lot harder to identify, trace and stop. According to the government, cybercrime is estimated to cost the economy £27 billion a year. As a result, the onus falls on you to take precautions to safeguard your private information and protect your computer from possible criminal actions. For most people, this means finding the appropriate software to ward off phishing, hacking, crimeware and spam attacks. Luckily, another undeniable benefit of the internet is that free antivirus downloads are available.

However, for businesses, which hold a database of client and customer information out of the individual’s control, additional measures must be taken. As part of the national security strategy relating to cybercrime, the government is expected to unveil a secure online site this week, aimed at collating information on cyber attacks and how companies have repelled them. Named the Cyber-security Information Sharing Partnership (CISP), the site will allow businesses, online security specialists and government officials to add information intended to help protect them from hacking attacks. In turn, this also protects their clients’ personal data.

A quick look on the anti-virus security company website outlines exactly what risks any individual or business owner can become a victim of online.

As reported by the Independent, 93 per cent of large businesses suffered a cyber attack in 2012. This is exactly why the government needs to focus its resources on installing measures to protect businesses from the dangers of online crime.

As January draws to an end, numerous cyber-attacks have already been reported in the media, showing how prevalent this problem is.

Sony was recently issued a £250,000 fine by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which has brought the company’s PlayStation fiasco of 2011 back into the spotlight. Sony was accused of compromising the personal details, including banking information, of 77 million PlayStation users after the company was hacked in an attack which supposedly could have been prevented. At the time, Sony’s software was not up-to-date and this allowed hackers to infiltrate the expectedly secure network of private data.

In another case, 22-year-old British university student, Christopher Weatherhead, was sentenced to 18 months jail on 24 January for his central role in a series of cyber-attacks in 2010/11. The attacks are believed to be associated with the global hacking collective, Anonymous, and targeted a number of financial companies including PayPal, MasterCard and Visa. The aim of the attacks was to protest against threats to internet freedom, and in the process they managed to disable the websites and cause millions of pounds of damage to the companies.

These are hacks that have been identified and halted, but it’s important to remember that there is a huge network of criminal activity operating undetected online. These networks are continually evolving to suit the changing market and finding ways to infiltrate supposedly secure databases. The fact that people are often unaware of being monitored or even hacked shows how threatening the shadows of the online domain are. While you can’t necessarily see the threat, it’s definitely there. Vigilant internet security is the only way to ensure you protect yourself.