It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the internet is here to stay.
That means e-commerce is here too and likely to grow at a terrific rate in years to come as more and more people begin to feel comfortable undertaking transaction on the web.
Unfortunately, the growth of any money-related market usually leads to a corresponding growth in the number of people and groups who will try to take some of that money via scams and other computer-related crimes.
The internet, as I’m sure you can imagine, is no exception.
There was a time when security issues revolved around script-kiddies with warped senses of humor and amateur scammers from African nations.
Now, however, the hackers are looking to make big money and the scams are far more sophisticated.
Identity thieves have access to advanced computer programs that enable them to access computers remotely in order to acquire the information they need, or the skills required to socially engineer the data from you on the multitude of networking sites that have appeared recently.
Many modern computer crimes now occur without the victim knowing about it until some time after the event.
The worst type of computer fraud, in my opinion, is identity theft.
For this type of cybercrime to succeed the perpetrator require information about their intended victim.
Such information is becoming increasingly easy to obtain via social networking sites as many people give out way too much information to strangers.
Alternatively, such information can be acquired through the use of spyware which is a type of software used not only by legitimate companies but by identity thieves too.
Once spyware has been installed onto a system it can monitor the user’s activities and collect a whole array of information without them realising it and, unbelievable, a large proportion of computer users store extremely sensitive information on their systems, such as social security numbers, internet banking details, credit card numbers, etc.
Spyware can easily access such information and report it back to whomever installed the program.
When the spyware has obtained your personal information a type of computer fraud, known as identity theft, could well occur.
An identity thief can use your personal details to incur debts of various kinds, including the opening of new credit card accounts and bank accounts.
Once your identity has been stolen it can be extremely damaging to your credit file and can take years to repair the damage inflicted.
Not only could you find yourself denied credit of any kind but there have also been instances of identity theft victims finding themselves in trouble with the law for crimes that other people have committed in their names.
Therefore, identity theft can be one of the most devastating crimes you will ever experience.
When connecting to the internet you need to be aware of such crimes and should protect the integrity of your computer system with security measures such as a firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware.