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In today’s world, not a day goes by that someone is not affected by cybercrimes or cyberterrorism which go hand in hand. It is important for the government and businesses to constantly stay up to date with the latest technology to help prevent a cyber-attack. It is also important for law enforcement to also be up to date with the latest technology to not only prevent a cyber-attack, but to swiftly prosecute those behind such an attack.
The computer we all know and use today most likely began with the invention of the “Manchester Baby” back in 1948. The Manchester Baby was the first computer to utilize stored programs. The idea of the computer we know today came well before Manchester Baby and some would even argue it began with the abacus. The idea behind computers was to be able to automate functions which required numbers, similar to a calculator. No one back in 1948 would ever had envisioned that computers in 2019 would be small enough to fit in someone’s pocket, yet smart and powerful enough to book a flight, give driving directions, manage banking, and be used as a telephone. Those who envisioned computers could do all that, and those who made them do all that, most likely envisioned that criminals would exploit them for criminal enterprise.
That is where we are today unfortunately. Arguably, computers run the world and our day to day lives. We cannot live without them and we hate when they fail or are used for criminal means. Cyberterrorism has now become a household term because of computers. As defined by Dictionary.com (2019), cyberterrorism is computer-based attacks aimed at disabling vital computer systems so as to intimidate, coerce, or harm a government or section of the population. Those individuals who carry out cyberterrorism are referred to as cyberterrorists or hackers. One of the biggest crimes carried about by cyberterrorists is identity theft. Back in 1940 a person would never think that a criminal would eventually steal their identity. Now 73 years later, identity theft is running rampant across the nation. As defined by Dictonary.Com (2013), identity theft is a fraudulent appropriation and use of someone’s identifying or personal data or documents, as a credit card. In 2012, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) intercepted fraudulent tax refunds that totaled $20 billion dollars. In contrast in 2011 the total was $14 billion. In today’s society almost everyone knows about identity theft, yet they are still walking around without protection. Individuals, as well as society, have a responsibility to avoid being ignorant about identity theft and how it works. Excuses such as not caring, can’t afford to pay for protection, or a lack of understanding of the technology involved is not excusable when information is readily available.
Of course, from person to person, the lack of obtaining identity theft protection vary. If a person that has very poor credit, they might believe they are immune to identity theft. Granted identity theft is not based on credit, identity theft starts with the discovery stage. According to Albrecht, C., Albrecht, C., & Tzafrir, S. (2011), “Discovery is the first step in the identity theft cycle because all other actions the perpetrator takes depends upon the accuracy and effectiveness of the discovery stage”. So, in truth, identity thieves start with people who don’t know they are vulnerable and regardless of credit. Perpetrators go to the extremes of going through garbage bins, tamper with an ATM, and write down your credit card number to steal your identity and hard-earned money. Having the wrong kind of attitude will put an individual into a false sense of security and with this kind of attitude it makes them an easier target for identity theft.
In the past 73 years there has been a substantial increase in the cost of living. In 1940, the cost of a new house was 3,920,00, and the average American salary was only 1,725.00 per year. The average Americans yearly salary has risen but not at a fast-enough pace to keep up with the ever-shifting cost of living. In a study it was found that the average American is only willing to pay an $87.00 tax for identity protection if there was a 75% reduction in identity theft cases. With budgeting to the penny foremost on people’s mind there isn’t much, if any, room for frivolous spending especially living on a fixed income. While living on a fixed income generally meanings budgeting to the penny with no room for error. Living on a fixed income seems something reserved only for the elderly, people living with the assistance of federal or state assistance also fall under this title. How can people afford to pay for identity protection when they have trouble meeting the basic expenses of living, as well as budgeting? Since identity theft is out of control it should be a free service to all.
For the most part people do have a legitimate reason to keep from paying for identity protection. With the national debt rising every day, the cost of identity protection can be costly. In the United States alone there are 46.2 million people in poverty with a 15% poverty rate. Therefore, if identity theft protection cost too much then there are many individuals that cannot afford to pay for it. An illustration of this concept is much like the insurance on a vehicle where the price of insurance is often higher based on the age of the driver, and with the cost of living expenses always on the rise it makes it that much harder to afford the cost of identity theft protection when people struggle to meet the basic living necessities. On the other hand, you can always try to protect yourself instead of paying a company to protect your identity. You could always be more mindful of what you are doing with your personal assets, financial and otherwise. There are a variety of different strategies people can employ, fixed income or not, that will make them less susceptible to identity theft. For example, shredding important identity documents can reduce your risk. If there are important digital legal documents, have them stored on a portable computer drive because in the event of a computer hack the thieves will steal this information right from the computer. Perhaps the most common form of identity theft, is theft by credit card and other prepaid methods. Identity thieves can activate prepaid credit cards and other forms of credit such as catalogs where you can order household items and pay later. Using the prepaid technique, it is very hard to prove that it was not you that ordered the items or made the charges on the credit card. Likewise, now technology has played a pivotal role in the prevention of identity theft, but technology itself can be a double edge sword and the technology that can help you can hurt you just as easily.
Meanwhile one of the newest innovations to identity theft has been the Internet. Trying to protect someone in a world that has no physical boundaries is tricky business. With a world as vast as the Internet, it is simple for an identity thief in Hong Kong to steal the identity of someone in Arizona with a few clicks of the mouse. Online banking, online shopping and social sites like Face Book all contain valuable personal information in which can be hacked into by using a friend’s page, or by hacking the site itself and stealing the stored customer information, as well as the attached online bank account information. As written by Lederer, M. (2012), ‘On February 28, 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) jointly published proposed red flags rules (the ‘Proposed Rules’) that would require certain financial institutions and creditors under the SECs and CFTCs (together, the ‘Commissions’) jurisdiction to develop and implement a written program to detect, prevent and mitigate identity theft with respect to their covered accounts’. So once this is implemented the risk may be lower and maybe identity thieves will be caught sooner to protect the consumer. In another unseen hazard of identity theft is using public computers. People often use public computers, but they often forget to log off leaving personal information visible where everyone and anyone can see it. Being aware of your surroundings before using your debit card and entering your pin can also help protect your assists.
While companies are trying to organize a way to protect consumers, now they have data breaches that are also another unfortunate occurrence. As stated by Shaw, A. (2010), ‘With over 350 million records containing sensitive personal information having been compromised since 2005, it is evident that data breaches are an epidemic problem’. Since 89% of data breaches are within the Government and Fortune 500 companies, why do we even try to protect our identity? Intentional or not, data breaches occur when information is either stolen or given away to an unauthorized person, place, or organization. Now with the government targeted is there hope that even with identity theft protection, can it help to stay protected. The most common form of data breaches occurs when hackers steal the identity of people on a site such as PayPal. Even though PayPal boasts safe transactions, they are not 100% safe from all attacks. In the same way companies that protect against identity theft only attempt to prevent, but they cannot prevent them all the time, and the newest way for identity theft to happen is via medical field.
For now, the medical field is the newest target for identity theft. When someone is ill or in need of surgery, they present their healthcare card, if used incorrectly by the medical staff, it can result in identity theft. With the personal medical card, the staff has the address, phone number, healthcare plan, contacts of family, phones, and other information. Putting the life of the patient in the hands of healthcare has never been so risky. Armed with all the information of the patient it is simply a matter of contacting the family, the bank, or access credit card information and drain the funds from all available sources leaving the patient with a stack of medical bills and no way to pay them. So now you might have thought could trust the hands that care for your loved ones, but with the medical field also being a target you can’t trust them. In all actuality no one is safe from identity theft.
According to the IRS, in 2010 there was only 224 identity theft investigations started and by 2012 the reported investigations started was 898. In contrast there was only 45 of the cases in 2010 that resulted to incarceration. So, in other words, identity theft will not be stopped; more criminals will find different ways to steal someone’s identity, especially if individuals have some reason not to obtain identity protection such as not caring, can’t pay for it, or the lack of knowledge. Since identity theft has been growing at a rapid pace, who can say that it can never happen to them. Carelessness or avoidance is not an option now. As this was written, the writer was the type that did not care if their identity was stolen; however, that opinion has changed since the possibility of becoming a victim became a reality. So now regardless of opinion if identity theft does occur, sometimes the person at fault could be yourself.
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