Advances in civilization also have corresponding evolutions in crime. What used to be bank robbery and swindling has turned to technology as a faster and safer way to perform criminal activities. On the internet, with the convenience of a click of a button, different services are available like shopping, online banking and information exchange. The world comes closer to our fingertips. This paper aims to enumerate some of the new hazards from data-phishing and hacking.
According to the IRS website, “Phishing (as in “fishing for information” and “hooking” victims) is a scam where Internet fraudsters send e-mail messages to trick unsuspecting victims into revealing personal and financial information that can be used to steal the victims’ identity.”1 Hacking on the other hand is “an activity involving computer security/insecurity, specializing in the discovery of exploits in systems (for exploitation or prevention), or in obtaining or preventing unauthorized access to systems through skills, tactics and detailed knowledge.”2 People involved in these actions prey on people on the worldwide web to further their own means.
The IRS in the United States has been used as an instrument to get consumers information. A bogus email is sent to intended victims in a message appearing to be an official email from the IRS. It contains information which makes it seem legit then asks for the target to click on a link to file their tax refund. Once the form is completed, the data is sent to the “phisher” who gets all of the information needed in order to falsify documents or commit identity fraud.
Hackers usually create mayhem by trying to get into computer or network security and releases programs which destroy or steal information. These electronic vandals cause millions of dollars in damages with the innovative and creative viruses they come up with. Some just settle for data gathering programs in order to enrich themselves. In 2004, Brian Salcedo was convicted to 9 years of prison time for hacking into an unsecured company’s network and attempting to gain credit card numbers being used by its customers.
The examples given here are not the only things we need to watch out for. Felons will always try to find better ways to improve their trade before they are caught. Their philosophy to “beat the system” drives them to do better or in this case, their worst. Law enforcement agencies and individuals should remain vigilant to keep these parasites from doing harm. Companies also invest large amounts of money and effort to protect themselves with software and security policies. As we enter a new era with even faster data transfer, the threats come at us with greater frequency and speed. Keeping our guard up is not only a deterrent, it is a need.