Internet criminals are going to have a field day

Internet criminals must be rubbing their hands in glee. Not only does the British Government lose the bank account details of 10 million families, but now it seems they are making the local bobby the person who should investigate Internet crime. Pardon, did I say that correctly? Yes, that’s right the “strategy” from the Home Office is that any Internet crime will now be dealt with locally by your happy, village police officer.

Now call me daft if you like, but I reckon that’s a recipe for success for any Internet criminal. All you have to do is set up some scam that only affects people who are in the UK. You don’t need to be in the UK, of course and could well be hiding behind a proxy server. Then just wait for the local village bobby to be confused and rake in the money. Simple.

This new Government strategy to deal with cybercrime came to light today following complaints from the IT Forum that Internet crime is not being treated seriously in the UK. Now, we shouldn’t be surprised; there are countless examples of the Government failing to understand the Internet and how it is changing society and business. Indeed, most Governments worldwide appear to be planning on the basis that it’s just a “fad” and it will go away soon when people get bored with it…!

But it’s not only Governments that don’t understand the nature of the Internet or cybercrime. Only last week I was told about a major FTSE 100 technology company that stores its customer account PIN numbers as actual numbers – not as “stars” or encrypted in any way. Not only that, these numbers are available on the internal system to everyone in their call centres, including third-party agencies abroad. The reasoning behind this decision is so that the company can remind people what their PIN number is in case they forget it…! Talk about leaving the system open to widespread fraud.

I reckon in the not too distant future that oversight will be cracked open – it’s not difficult after all is it? Then the company will blame the Internet, those nasty cybercriminals, spotty teenagers – anybody but themselves.

It’s time for big business and the Government to face some facts. Cybercrime is not the preserve of youths in their jim-jams; it is a multibillion enterprise involving criminal gangs. The Internet is not going to go away – it is going to become increasingly central to our very existence. Security policies that were OK in the 1990s are not acceptable now; there needs to be a major overhaul of security concepts and ideas at every business.

And that means at your business too. What policies do you have in place which are checked and updated every few months to enable your business to stay free of cybercrime? What preventative operations do you have in place to ensure your online business protects your customers? What are you doing to ensure your offline activities cannot help criminal gangs access your online data? Anyone running an online business needs to be able to answer these questions – and more. Otherwise your business could be used to defraud other people (implicating you as the criminal), or your business could be subject to rip-offs and frauds leading to your bankruptcy. You can’t any longer think that cybercrime won’t affect you. It will – and if it does you will only have the local village police officer to help you. Oh dear.

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