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5 reasons Internet crime is worse than ever

Roger A. Grimes | Aug. 6, 2014
Why does Internet crime remain a menace? These five reasons have enabled us to accept it -- but that complacency may not last.

Sometimes law enforcement agencies of one nation work with another nation's law enforcement, but these occasions are rare. Plus, the really big ones involved with the majority of the Internet crime, like Russia, China, and the United States, certainly don't cooperate with each other.

3. Lack of legal evidence
Another huge impediment to successful convictions is the lack of official, legal evidence. Most courts accept "the best representation" of evidence recorded during the commission of a crime. But most computer systems -- and many networks in totality -- don't collect any evidence at all, much less evidence that might stand a chance of holding up in court. I'm still surprised by the number of computers I investigate that don't, at a minimum, have event logging turned on.

Even if more evidence was collected, most of it wouldn't stand up to a decent lawyer, assuming it would even be allowed in court. Collecting and preparing good legal evidence takes planning and commitment. Few organizations have the dedication or expertise.

4. Lack of resources
Few victims or victim advocacy groups have the resources, technology, or funding to pursue Internet criminals. I know many people who have lost tens of thousands of dollars to fraudulent transactions, including car sales, stock trades, bank transfers, and so on. Unfortunately, the amount lost usually pales compared to the cost of the resources that would be needed to recover the funds.

Many victims are too ashamed of their own gullibility to report the crime. If they do, a report will be taken -- and that's that. Your local enforcement agency isn't about to cross international boundaries to try and to recover your personal money. You can report it to the proper authorities, but rarely will they do anything to recover the damages or prosecute.

5. Cyber crime isn't hurting the economy enough (yet)
Lastly, the amount of Internet crime isn't hurting economies enough to raise a global red alert. Sure, Internet crime probably results in the loss of hundreds of millions -- or perhaps several billion -- dollars each year, but that amount of crime has persisted for a long time, well before the Internet.

Most of today's Internet crimes are newer versions of crimes and scams that have been occurring for decades before the Internet was around. Take credit card fraud: Retail stores would once look up known fraudulent credit card numbers in little paper books that the credit card vendors handed out. Nigerian scams have been around, via paper letters, phone calls, or faxes, at least since the 1990s.

Unfortunately, most Internet crime is seen as a necessary cost of doing business. As long as the majority of transactions are legitimate, the noise will be acceptable.


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