Nobody could have imagined the massive effect the Internet would have on human life. There are simply no superlatives that can describe it. But, of course, along with its incredible advantages, there inevitably had to be a darker side. Sadly, these days, we are all too aware of this. Cyber crime in all its forms throws down challenges that have yet to be properly met. Just how can the Internet be policed and controlled to avoid criminal exploitation of the Web?
A step forward was recently made in the United Kingdom, when a Government committee decided it was time to look at introducing a system of cyber crime reporting similar to that already implemented in the USA. The U.S.-based Internet Crime Complaint Centre provides Americans with a way to report Internet crime.
Okay, it’s a no-brainer; this is a good thing. Let’s get it up and running all over Europe, or indeed globally. But before we rush into anything, there are some social lessons, strategies, and human attitudes we would do well to study relative to cyber crime reporting.
People who have been subject to Internet financial fraud are generally reluctant to go to the police. Instead they report it to their bank. Is this what they would do if mugged on the street? Of course not. The problem is people are reluctant to involve the police because the matter is dealt with faster by the banks.
In this case, a lesson can be learned from the USA. In the U.S., the FBI works with bodies such as the Federal Trade Commission and has created procedures for the reporting of online fraud. Regional centres set up by the FBI help to educate and assist U.S. law enforcers deal with Internet crime.
So, these are all good ideas, but what about the computer industry itself? What is it doing to try to thwart cyber crime? How about moving some of the responsibility for computer safety back to industry? Ideas could include the routine installation of leading-edge security software on machines, and establishing fire-walling so that computers aren’t vulnerable to criminal infiltration.
Software security measures like these would certainly be welcomed. However, they would still need to be bolstered with more stringent laws regarding Internet crime, laws that protect personal information.