Identity Theft in America and Term Paper

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Pharmers now not only small local servers operated by Internet service providers (ISP) but they also target the 13 servers on which all other DNS servers depend.

Implications

Businesses & Large Organizations: Among large scale businesses that get affected includes the financial sector other than individuals. Electronic banking services have been greatly affected by these criminals who are euphemistically called hackers or crackers who conduct phishing or pharming. They not only steal the information and enter into the security system of banks but when they are caught they also retaliate. They retaliate using computer viruses, "worms" and "logic bombs" that can destroy hard drives. While robbers of banks using guns and other such weapons can also steal big amounts but they could end up in prison and the amount looted could be recovered. In case of these hackers, the sleuths have new technological tactics to deal with. These criminals use technology to support their criminal intentions. "Jeffry Scheel, president and CEO with Vocent, Mountain View, Calif., points out that the rising tide of password theft with tools like phishing, pharming, and spyware has more than a few banks on the hunt for solutions with broad reach" (Bielski, 2005).

All the big companies own up to the fact that some hackers and crackers have accessed their computerized information through phishing & pharming. A number of these organizations, banks and financial institutions had to suffer losses due to computer frauds. In 1994, the hackers' activities made headlines when these computer savvy and technology driven criminal broke into "firewalls," or security systems of Citibank. Citibank had to revamp its security system to prevent any future problems but the technical expertise of these criminals cannot be checked. They might update their skills and get back with more vengeance and greater technological prowess.

Computer frauds and hacking activities have become a constant war with these intelligent criminals. There have been instances in which they have been able to capture the complete systems of Internet service providers and even threatened them to destroy their system and to distribute all the credit card information. In certain cases there have been employees who sabotaged the whole system. Internal employees having access to critical files have also caused trouble in certain cases. Dealing with an outsider as well an insider is a hard to juggle task. All the major banks and financial institution are deeply worried about electronic money, open-access World Wide Web sites, investment dealings world wide and the threat of those breaking into secure systems.

Individuals: People whose identities have been stolen can spend months or years cleaning the mess. Their hard-earned money is lost for no reason at all. Cleaning up the mess that the thieves have made by using good name and credit record is a Herculean task. In the meantime, victims may lose job opportunities, be refused loans, education, housing or cars, or even get arrested for crimes they didn't commit. A victim's losses may include not only out-of-pocket financial losses, but also substantial additional financial costs associated with trying to restore his reputation in the community and correcting erroneous information for which the criminal is responsible.

Correcting incorrect information about the financial or personal status, and trying to restore the good names and reputations are daunting tasks for the victims of identity theft and fraud. The damages done by the criminals take far longer to undo than it took the criminal to commit the crimes. Victims can suffer a lot once their identity has been stolen and abused. The hard-earned money of the person is lost for no reason at all. Apart from the financial aspect, peace of mind is also stolen along with the identity, as the victims have to go through a lot of trauma as a result of the crime. The proportion with which the crime has grown has also caused a dent on the economy. Some credit companies now keep a certain provision for the losses related to identity theft. Hence there are greater implications of the crime and the gravity of the situation is needed to be understood.

Solutions

Technological: Among many ways in which users can take care of the phishing, spyware, hacking and other such methods one method is also the use of technology. For example for spyware, anti-spyware software are available that identify and remove spyware from a user's computer. The issue again with such softwares is that they have to be updated constantly as they only detect the known spyware. Like other technologies the criminal technologies used for identity theft and other cyber crimes are also advancing. "It is recommended that users are running three types of security software. Recommendations include; a solid firewall, an anti-virus package, and an anti-spyware package. Naturally it is important to not only use these products but to keep them up-to-date with the latest definitions and patches. Don't be lulled into a false sense of safety though. Even with a strong defensive perimeter it is still possible to get hijacked or infected. Use caution and common sense" (Porter, 2006).

Prevention: For medical conditions it is said that prevention is better than the cure. Same seems to be the case with identity theft. Individuals have to be alert and aware of the methods these criminal use. Everyone should be particular about giving out personal information. Bills or mail containing checks should not be sent from unlocked mailboxes. One should ask for & review credit report updates regularly for new inquiries, accounts or negative information. One should not offer all the information quickly at Internet. One should remove one's name from promotional lists operated by credit reporting agencies and credit grantors. There are a number of organizations both governmental non-governmental that provide a lot of help in this regard. So a complaint or a notice can be given to such organizations such as Federal Trade Commission as under the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act, the Federal Trade Commission is responsible for receiving and processing complaints from people who believe they may be victims of identity theft, providing informational materials to those people, and referring those complaints to appropriate entities, including the major credit reporting agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Conclusions

Crimes and offenses committed through computers are rampant in this technological age. Criminal are more technology savvy then we would like to think. Whether it is hacking, cracking, identity theft by phishing, pharming & spyware, these offenses have caused tremendous amount of damage to individuals as well as established business. The need of the day is to find out ways to curb these crimes not just on a national level but on a global level with the help of stringent laws and regulations. As we know from the past experiences that laws and regulations are not enough as the whole computer and it industry must get together with businesses and other private parties to devise better technological ways to curb such crimes. "Control of access by optical patterns, DNA identification, voice spectrographs, encryption, and other methods may slow down hackers, but no method is foolproof or presents much of a challenge to today's most-talented cyberpunks" (Stephens, 1995).

References

Brinkhorst, J.A. (2007, April 1). 2007 trends in security. Kentucky Banker Magazine, 16.

Brody, R, Mulig, E, Kimball, V (2007). Phishing, Pharming and Identity Theft. Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal, 11(3), 43

Stephens, G. (1995, September/October). Crime in Cyberspace. The Futurist, 29, 24+.

Bielski, L. (2005). Breakout Systems and Applications Give Bankers New Options. ABA Banking Journal. 97(6): 61+.

E-Business: Phishing and Pharming Is on the Increase'. (March 29, 2005). The Birmingham Post.

Bosworth, M. (April, 2005). Stopping Identity Theft and Spyware: How to Surf Smart without Being Scammed or Scared. Retrieved August 1, 2007, at http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2005/id_theft_spyware.html

Porter, W. (2007). Identity Theft and Spyware- an Emerging Threat. Retrieved August 15, 2007, at http://www.spywareguide.com/articles/article_show.php?id=19

Walters, N (May 2006). Spyware and Identity Theft. Retrieved August 1, 2007, at http://www.aarp.org/research/technology/onlineprivacy/fs126_spyware.html

Recognize phishing scams and fraudulent e-mails'. (September 14, 2006). Retrieved August 2, 2007, at http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/email/phishing.mspx?id=2042

Defend: Recover From Identity Theft'. (2007). Retrieved August 9, 2007, from: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/defend.html[continue]

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"Identity-Theft-and-Spyware" 

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