It was very interesting to read the source documents for this paper on cybercrime and to learn about the various ways that cybercriminals take advantage of the vulnerabilities of online data transfer and storage. Like most people, I have been aware of the big news stories about various corporations having their databases hacked and customer and proprietary information stolen, but I am exposed to so many news stories and other information every day that I have not paid particular attention to them. I am too young to remember what life was like before home computers and mobile devices were common in the United States, so I have always taken for granted that personal data is transferred online. Reading the articles and website information that I used to write my paper was an eye-opening experience because I had not realized how sophisticated cybercriminals were and how difficult it is to protect systems and information that are linked in to the internet. Researching the types of cybercrimes that are most common, how they are carried out, and what kind of technological tools exist and are being developed to protect online data helped me understand the current state of the art in cybercrime prevention.
The first sources I found were related to what types of crimes are committed online and how these offences can be identified and the perpetrators caught. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an excellent website that has a detailed section on cybercrime. I discovered that the FBI has a highly trained team of cyber experts who work tirelessly to keep up with the evolving technology used by hackers and other cyber criminals, and who investigate cybercrimes that fall within its venue. The site lists various types of cybercrimes, such as the use of ransom ware, identity theft, and online predation along with ways that the FBI is working to track and prevent these transgressions. I found that corporate sites for protective software such as kasperskylabs.com and clickatell.com were also very helpful in identifying common types of cybercrime and what measures users online could take to protect themselves from it.
After reviewing these general informational sites about cybercrime, I searched for articles about individual incidents of security breaches in order to get a sense of how cyber criminals actually carry out their offences. I found an article that provided a brief history of cybercrime from the earliest incidents like the introduction of worms onto the internet by curious computer ‘nerds’ to the hacking and selective leaking of the Democratic National Committee’s email database in 2016, which may have affected the outcome of the presidential election. I also found accounts of attacks on corporate databases, where cyber criminals were able to hack into supposedly secure customer databases and obtain personal and financial data which they were then able to use or sell to other criminals. In one case, a single perpetrator who happened to be a Russian national was sentenced to twenty-seven years in prison in the U.S. after he was convicted of stealing and reselling millions of credit card numbers from over 500 business sites.
Researching and writing this paper on cybercrime was very informative. I had not realized how widespread and sophisticated the business of cybercrime was. I learned that there is a continuous race going on between cybercriminals and law enforcement and private security companies, one trying to come up with new methods of breaching online security and the others trying to construct new, impenetrable protective software. I now realize that every time I enter private data online, I am taking the risk that it may be accessed by unauthorized parties. This has made me much more cautious and alert to the dangers of protecting my privacy when using the internet.