Digital Media and Cyber-Crimes

DigitalMedia and Cyber-Crimes

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Abstract

Technologicaldevicesandinfrastructuressuchas theinternethaveledto their pervasive useacross socioeconomic factorssuchgender,ageas wellas geographicalboundaries.Theproliferationhas ledto a perfection ofcybercrime activities,which havethreatenedthe global economy.Cybercrimeshaveincreasedsodramatically over thelastfewyears,seeminglyreplacingthecontemporaryformsof organizedcrimes.Cyber crimesare theintentionalactionsinvolvingtheuseof computers,theinternet infrastructuresandothertechnologies to promotecriminalactivities with adverseeconomic impacts on athirdparty.Allcybercrimes involve theuse toolsandtechniquesto perpetratecrime. The perpetrators executea criminalplanreferredto as thevector, to carryout a cyber crime.Assuch,cyber is an organizedwell-planned endresultof well-executed plansandactivitiesinvolvingtechnological devices,suchas computersandtheinternet infrastructure.

Cybercrimescanbe dividedinto two broadcategoriesthefirstcategoryinvolvesattackson computerhardwareandsoftware tools,suchas thebotnets, networkintrusions,andmalware. Thecategoryinvolvescybercrimesof financial naturesuchas online fraudandpenetrationof online financialservices (Brenner,2010). Others include phishing, corporate accounttakeover and theftof intellectualproperties.Cyber crimesare committedacross geographicalboundaries,with theperpetrators takingadvantageof theinternet to propeltheir criminalactivities.Theconvenience,anonymity andincreasedprofitability of cyber crimeshaveincreasedtheproliferationof cyber crimesover therecentpast.Eighty percent of moderncybercrimesare estimatedto originatefrom organizedcriminalactivities.Prevalence of the crime can be attributed to theestablishment of fraud-as-service, increasedprofitability andthe increasingdiversification of thedigital media platforms(ITU, 2012). Currentstrendsin cybercrime activitiesattest thatcyber crimeswill increasewith theincreaseddevelopmentof thetechnological infrastructures.Additionally, thecybercriminalswill leverage bigdataprinciplesin thefutureto increasetheeffectiveness of their attacks,through management of botnets among other infrastructures (Wall,2007). Thispaperexemplifiesthevariousformsof cybercrimesdetailingthecurrenttrendsin thecrimeto formtheimpactsof cybercrimeson consumptionof thedigital media.In addition,thepaperwill exemplifycybercrimes and outlinethe impacts of cybercrime on consumption of the digital media.Further, the paper will outline various protective and controlmeasures that can be used to combat cybercrimes.

CommonTypesof Cyber Crimes

CorporateSecurityBreaches

Amongthecommontypesof cyber crimesincludecorporate securitybreaches,spearphishing andsocialmedia fraud.Corporate securitybreachesoccurwhenunauthorizedpersonsaccessimportantcorporate informationanduseitforpersonalgains,which disadvantage thecorporate (Brenner, 2010). Themostcommontypeof corporate securitybreachesis thecorporate banktakeover, wherecybercriminalsusesoftware toolsto accessbankingcredentials to stealfundsremotely. Cyber criminalsillicitly accessbankingcredentials through compromisingtheinternet infrastructureof theidentifiedinstitutionthrough theuseof illegitimatefilesandviruses.Thesefilesallowthedownloading andexecutionof maliciousTrojans, which allowstheperpetrators to accessthevictims’detailswithout beingdetectedby the establishedsecurityfeatures.Theattackeruseshacker toolsto hidethedigital trailtherebyavoidingdetection thisallowstheattackerto launcha seriesof fraudulentwiretransfersof thevictims’monetaryresources to differentaccounts, finally to his own. The transfer of corporate financialresources has asignificanteconomicimpacton theentity,sometimesleadingto foreclosure (Kshetri,2010). In 2011, therevenuelossesfrom fraudulenttransactionswereestimatedto be morethan three billion USDs (ITU, 2012).

Besidesfraudulentmoneytransfers,corporate cyber attacksmay comein theformof intellectualpropertytheftand theft of copyrighted materials.Intellectualpropertytheftis in mostcasesfundedby thegovernment,allowinghackers to stealproductblueprintsof establishedcompaniesand manufacture of counterfeits, thereby making illegitimate profits.In thepast,Chinese attackershavestolenproductblueprintsfrom largecommercialentitiesto manufacturecounterfeits, therebyunfairadvantagesfrom protectedproperties.Recent forms of corporate cyber attacks take the form of hactivisim,where hackers access vital corporate information and expose it to thevarious stakeholders, disadvantaging the firm (Wall,2007). Asrecentas 2014, an entertainmentgiant,Sony Inc washacked,embarrassingthetopexecutives,as sensitiveemails andconfidentialinformationwasleakedout to thepublic.Thehackparalyzedtheoperationsof thebusiness,leadingto hugelosses,andhurttherelationshipbetween investors andthetopexecutiveowingto thenegativemessagesleaked (ITU,2012).

IdentityTheft

Identitytheft is thesecondmostprevalentformof cyber crimesinvolvesidentitytheft,which typically occurswhentheattackersuccessfullystealspersonalidentificationdetailsof thevictim.After successfulidentitytheft,theperpetrator usestheinformationto seekunjustbenefits,mostlyfinancial,usingthestolendetails.Among the financial crime that can be perpetrated using personalinformation include loanfraud,creditcardfraud,tax-refundfraudorotherfrauds (ITU,2012). Theevolutionof thesocialmediahas providedchannelsof engagingin identitytheft,whereindividualsare enticedto download maliciouscodeswhich revealemails andtheir passwords,among otherusefulpersonalinformation. The personalinformation can be illicitly accessed and usedto engagein theftschemesamong otherfrauds.Mostsocialmediaplatformsrevealallpersonalinformationof individuals,suchas birthdays,locations,homeaddressesorevenphonenumbers.Additionally, the many social media allows the users to update theirreal-time locations, which can be exploitedby cyber attackersto formsufficientpersonalinformation.The information can be usedto undertakeeventhephysicalcriminalactivities such asburglary among others (Ghosh&ampTurrini, 2010).

TheChangingNatureof Cyber Crimes

Theincreasingtechno developmentis increasingknowledgeamongst digital users andat thesametimeincreasingtheavenuesof cybercrimes.Thenewtrendsin cybercrimesare widespread,increasingthecostof thecrimeon theglobal economy.In thepast,thecrimewasmainlyconductedby individualsorsmallgroupsof people.Today,largeorganizationshavebeenestablishedto commitcybercrimesowingto theincreasedprofitability, anonymity andconvenienceof thecrime (Wall,2007). Theseorganizationsworkwith technology professionalsacross theglobeto commitfinancialfraudin realtimeto fundotherillegalactivities.Modern developments of the crime has led to management of botnets andfraud-as-a-service programs that provide more developed hackingsoftware tools and strategies, increasing the effectiveness ofcybercriminals. The effectiveness translates to increasedprofitability, which attracts more cyber criminals (ITU, 2012).

Overthe years, digital crimehas proved to be morelucrative,changingthenatureof thegame.In 2013, phishing ledto an estimatedsix billion USD lossesglobally, mostof which is attributedto financialmotives.Thecybercriminalshavebecomemoreorganized,innovative andadaptive, increasingtheir attack.Theincreasedinventionof mobiledigital deviceshas madecybercrimes morepervasive andsophisticated,with malware andvirusesbecomingevenmoresophisticated.Theunabated andPOS malware haveincreasedpredisposition of digitalmedia consumers tocybercrimes(Elms, 2010).

Figure1: IncreasingRate of Cybercrimes from 1996 to 2010

(Source:Elms, 2010)

Consumptionof theDigital Media

Spearphishing is one of thecurrentformsof cyber crimes.Unlike in regularphishing, spearphishing involvesseekingappropriateinformationto promotefinancialgainof theattacker.Thisis achieved throughtheuseof emails that appearto originatefrom colleaguesorfriends(ESET, 2015). Theseallowtheattackerto accessandstealpersonalinformation,laterusingitforpersonalfinancialgain.However,theincreasedrateof cybercrimeshas not negatively impactedtheconsumptionof thedigital media.Theconsumptionof thedigital mediahas increasedwith moresmartdevicesbeinginvented.Since theyear2010, theconsumptionof digital mediahas almostdoubled,with morepeopleadoptingtheuseof digital mediaforglobal interconnectivity. Since 2011, thepopulaceis watchingmoretelevision,playingmoreonline games,us morevideo-on-demand andspenda considerableamountof timeupdatingtheir statuson thesocialmedia(ESET, 2015).

Researcheson currenttrendsin digital mediaattest thatexpenditureon thedigital mediahas skyrocketed over thelastfewyears,whileexpenditureon traditionalmediasuchas thenewspapersandmagazineis considerably dropping.In theUS, theexpenditureon digital mediahas increasedby morethan fifty percent since 2012, with theexpenditureon thetraditionalmediadroppingwith morethan twenty percent from thesameyear.Accordingto KPMG Media andEntertainment Barometer, twenty-one percent of thenewspaperreadersspentnothingon printednewspapersince theycould accessthesameon thevariousdigital platforms.Thesituationis similarin London, wheremorethan twenty-three percent of thenewspaperleadershaveswitchedfrom theprintto digital newspapers(Elms, 2010).

In2013, thetimespenton digital mediasurpassedthetimespentwith theTV forthefirsttimein theUS, with themobilephonesdrivingtheshift.Thetrendcontinuedin 2014 owingto theincreasedinventionof smartmobiledevices,suchas tablets,iPhones, andsmartphones (Yan, 2012). This,coupledwith increasingsocialmediaplatformssuchas Facebook, Twitter, andothers has significantly increasedthetimespenton thedigital media platforms,therebyincreasingtheir consumption.Despite theincreasingrateof cybercrimes,itis expectedthatAmericans will consumemorethan fifteen hoursper personper dayon thetraditionalanddigital media,with morethan eight hoursbeingspenton thedigital media.Theamountof online data usedwill exceedeight zettabytes annually,indicatingthepreferenceof digital mediaover othermediaplatforms(Elms, 2010).Asignificant fraction ofthese zettabytes will beusedby theever-increasing applicationsusedin mobiledigital devicessuchas themobilephones,tabletsandiPhones. Themobiledevicesaccountforsixty percent of thetotaltimetakenby digital mediaplatforms,with theresttakenup by desk-top baseddigital media(ESET, 2015).

Figure2: The Current Trendin Consumption of Internet and Mobile Internet Subscriptions

Graphshowing the current trend in consumption of internet and mobileinternet subscriptions (source: ESET, 2015).

TheFightagainst Cybercrimes

Asthemobiletechnology advances,morechannelsto commitcybercrimesare beingcreated,henceincreasedrateof cybercrimes.Currently, morethan fifty percent of theglobal populationpossessessmartphones,which holdmoredatathan alternative mediaplatforms (NationalCrime prevention Council, 2012).Thesedeviceshaveaddictive applicationswhich requireindividualsto updatetheir personalinformation,therebyincreasingavenuesforcyber crimes.Additionally, mostdata has gonedigital necessitatingtheincreasedconsumptionof thedigital media.However,mostinformationis storedvirtuallyandwithout passwordsandmay e usedto predisposeindividualsandcorporate to risks.Theincreasedrateof cybersecurityhas necessitatedadvancedtrainingof employeesto makethem technologically savvy to understandthecyber securitythreatsandhowto avoidthem. Additionally, ithas ledto the enactmentof variouslawsaimedat preventingcybercrimesas wellpunishingcyber criminal.At thesametime,Google has takenup thechallengeof fightingcyber securitythreatsby exposingthecybercriminalsallowingtheir prosecution(National Crime preventionCouncil, 2012).

Sincecybercriminalis a global threat,INTERPOL has steppedup in thefight,establishinga widerangeof INTERPOL Global Complex forInnovations (IGCI), a centerforfightingcyber crime.Thecenterprovidesproactive researchinto areasproneto cyber attacks.The IGCI trains individualsin combatingthecrime andcoordinates the operationsof INTERPOL in thefieldwhenfightingcyber crimes.Additionally, INTERPOL offerstrainingon thevariouswaysof detecting,preventingandrecoveringfrom digital crimesfrom allover theworld(Yan, 2012). Theinternational police body ensuressufficientexchangeof vitalinformationnecessaryforcombatingcyber crime.Currently, theINTERPOL playss significantrolein thefightagainst cybercrime, includinghelpingmembercountriesto investigatecyber crimesin theeventof their occurrence(Kshetri, 2010). In theUS, thesecretservice maintains a branchreferred to as theElectronic Crime Task Force (ECTFs), which focuseson identifyingcybercrimes, investigatingandlocatinginternationalcybercriminals,contributingto their arrests.Additionally, thesecretservicerunstheNational Computer Forensic Institute to trainthevariouslawenforcementagenciessuchas thejudgesandtheprosecutors on combatingcybercrimes. The Cyber Crimes Center (C3) worksto preventandsolvecasesof cyber crimes,promotingtheprosecutionof cybercriminals (Ghosh&ampTurrini, 2010).

CombatingCyber Crimes

Sincetherateof cyber crimesis positivelycorrelatedwith theconsumptionof digital media,theincreasingconsumptionwill increasetherateof cybercrimes.Assuch,corporate andindividualsshould takeappropriatemeasuresin combatingthecrimeowingto its devastatingimpactson thesociety.Above all,itis importantforallcountriesto joinin thefightagainst cybercrime since itknowsnogeographicalboundary (NationalCrime prevention Council, 2012).

Amongthemosteffectivewayof preventing,detectingandcombatingcybercrimesis undertakingan internalcybersecurity audit.An effectiveinternalcybersecurityauditidentifiestheareasproneto cybercrime risksandassessestheseverityof eachtypeof risk.Theauditformsa backgroundforan institutionto implementtheappropriatepreventive andcontrolmeasuresto preventcyber attacks.Among thebestcontrolmeasureincludes atimelyandproactive patching vulnerabilities, suchas theuseof vulnerability software tools,suchas least-access privilegesamong otherlogicalaccesscontroltools. This will prove aptin reducing cyberattacksthat are perpetratedfrom within (InformationResources Management Association, 2012). Conversely, corporate andindividualsshould establisha soundperimetercontrolsuchas firewalls andIntrusion Detection Systems (IDS) to protectthemselves from externally perpetratedcyber attacks.Thefirewalls should beenabledsince theyformthefirst-line protectionagainst cyber attacks.Togetherwith IDS, firewalls blockmalware andsuspicioustrafficfrom probableattackers,therebypreventingintrusionsthat may leadto cyber attacks (Yan,2012). Thedigital consumersshould embracetheuseof antivirus andantimalware software toolsto preventmalware, virusadTrojans from infectingcomputersandotherdigital mediadevices.Theseantivirus software toolsandantimalwareshould regularlybe updatedto enhancetheir effectiveness in thefightingthe ever developing virusandmalware. Otheressentialtoolsthat should be installedare theanti-spyware software tools,to preventthespyware from infiltrating thedigital media devices(Ghosh&amp Turrini, 2010).

Consumersof digital mediashould setup strongpasswordsforopeningonline accountspreventunauthorizedaccess.Passwordsshould be strengthenedby combiningletters,numbersandspecialcharactersas wellas changingthem on a regularbasis.Thesepasswordsshould be memorizedbutnot writtendown, andshould neverbe sharedwith anyone except theauthorizedpersons.Additionally, data content should be encrypted to preventphishing incaseof unauthorizedaccess.Theusers of thesocialmediashould be cautiousnot givingout allpersonalorfinancialinformationon thesesitesthat may be usedforcyber crimes (InformationResources Management Association, 2012). To preventidentitytheftthrough phishing, digital mediaconsumersshould ensurethatthesitestheyaccessare secureespeciallywhenmakingonline purchases.Thesestepswill proveaptin combatingcybercrimes,makingthedigital mediaa safeplatformforaccessingandsharinginformation.Users should ensurethattheydownload applicationsfrom securesitesreducingthevulnerability of digital devicessuchas mobiledevices.Additionally sensitiveunnecessaryinformationshould not be storedin mobiledevicescloudservicesowingto theeaseat which mobilecloudstoragefacilitiesare hacked.In casethemobiledeviceis lost,theownershould reportto therelevantagenciesandcontactIT professionalswhomay helpin erasingthedata from thedeviceremotely. Additionally, theoperatingsystemsshould regularlybe updatedto preventpotentialattackson outdatedsoftware tools,since newersoftware toolsincorporateimportantsecuritymeasuresthat assistin thefightagainst cyber crimes(Kshetri, 2010).

MitigatingtheImpactsof Cybercrimes

Inthisageof financially motivated cybercrimes, corporate andindividualsshould takeappropriatemeasuresto mitigatetheadverseimpactsof thecrime.Allconsumersof digital mediashould haveadequateinsurancecoverage to indemnifythem against thesufferedfinancialloss (NationalCrime prevention Council, 2012).TheCFOs should evaluatethepossiblefinanciallossthat may be sufferedin caseof a cyber attackandinsurethecompanyto mitigatetheadversities.Thereviewshould be reasonableandperiodicto ensurethatthere is fullindemnification. Corporate should alsoconsidersolicitingICT serviceproviders to cleanup after a cyber attackandrestorefulloperationof thedigital mediaafter an attack.Additionally, firms should establishincidentresponseas a remediation strategyafter an attack.Thoughnot preventive,theincidentresponserequiresemployeesto haveadequateknowledgeandskillsto promotea fasterrecoveryafter a cyber threatorattack (InformationResources Management Association, 2012).

Conclusion

Asaforestated, constanttechnological innovationshaveledto increasedsophisticationof cybercrimes, with thecybercriminalsdevelopingmoresophisticatedmalware, spyware, andviruses.Thelucrativenatureof thecrimehas ledto moresophisticatedformsof thecrimesuchas managementof thebotnet techniquesalongside thefraud-as-a-service modelthat has easedtheoperationsof thecrimeby availing complexmalware. However,Traditional formsof attackssuchas theuseof POS malware andphishing are stillwidelyusedowingto theprofitability andpossiblenegligenceamong theconsumersof thedigital media.Despite theincreasedcyber attacks,theconsumptionof thedigital mediahas skyrocketed leadingto reducedexpenditureon othermediaplatforms.Theincreasedinnovationsof mobiledigital mediadevicessuchas themobilephonesandthetabletshaveincreasedthetimespenton theinternet, which is expectedto surpasstheeight zettabytes markby theendof 2015. Thepositivecorrelationbetween mediaconsumptionandthenumberof cybercrimescallsfortheestablishmentof appropriatemeasuresto combatthecrime.Consumersof digital mediashould conductcybersecurityauditsandimplementvariouspreventiveandcontrolmeasuresto combatcybercrimes.Additionally, consumersshould takeup insurancecoversto indemnifythemselves against possiblefinancial lossfrom cyber attacks andenlist professionals’ services to reconstruct the digital mediaplatform after an attack.

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References

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