A dangerous aspect of the Internet Age that businesses and governments must cope with is cybercrime. As technology advances, so do the criminals. For American businesses, and both federal and state governments, the potential cost of these attacks is staggering.
“Electronic Crime” or “Cybercrime,” broad terms used to describe criminal activity conducted through the Internet, began almost as soon as the Internet came into being. The complexities of the schemes have proven dynamic, evolving to meet the increased security measures employed by both business and government. Today, attacks on businesses can include such things as the theft of intellectual property, seizing bank accounts, generating and distributing malware, and other forms of disruptive cybercrimes. Cyber attacks against the federal government can have an even greater negative impact, potentially devastating the country’s technical infrastructure or leading to the exposure of highly classified information. In 2009, the Director of National Intelligence, testifying before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, explained that foreign nations and cybercriminals were targeting both the government and private sector in an effort to gain competitive advantages, or to disrupt or destroy them. Perhaps most disturbing is that terrorist groups have signaled a desire to use cyber attacks against the United States government. And for state governments, the concern is just as great. While the weak American economy has caused most states to severely trim their budgets, reducing their ability to devote expenditures to cyber defense, they remain an appealing target for cybercriminals, as their computer systems hold some of their citizens’ most vital records, including health and driving records, educational and criminal records, professional licenses, and tax information. Now more than ever, governments and businesses must be aware of this evolving threat, and take proactive measures to counter it.
In this article, we will endeavor to explain what cybercrimes are, profile the cybercriminal, provide discussion of some of the most common forms of cybercrimes affecting businesses and government, and discuss action that the government is taking to fight back.
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Bradford Muller contributed to this post.