Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Everyone could become a cyber-criminal? I'm not sure...

Or in Dutch 'Iedereen kan een cyber-crimineel worden' quoted out of the Standaard, a newspaper in Belgium.
You can find the article here.

Well this is my reaction to this article and I do not completely agree!
The problem lays in our mindset and as long as everybody is not thinking in the correct way we will face indeed a problem. It's something I already told the public back in 2004. The general public and children do not seem to know what computer security is. And it all goes back to what we teach our children and that's the real problem in my opinion. We don't teach children well these times. My research found out that some of them even find the idea of becoming a hacker or a virus writer ‘cool’. Although some families use parental control mechanisms to secure their home computer networks, many children know how to bypass these mechanisms. Generally, it seems that our children’s knowledge of ethical
computer behaviour and good ‘netiquette’ are a long way off target.

And it's not only children anymore these days. This article in 'De Standaard' is a perfect example 'unfortunately'! Was it really necessary to show the real problem to the public and go the press with it? Do you as a reader of this blog still know the line between good and bad on the internet? I doubt it.

A suggestion as to how we may begin to influence students and young people is by using societal control. An example of how this has worked in the past is with the issue of drink-driving. At one time, drinking and driving was a personal choice, but
as society witnessed some of the consequences of the combination of the two activities, we began to pass laws which restricted such behaviour. Initially there was some resistance to these laws – people saw them as an infringement on their rights. However, as the laws became more widely accepted, people began to refuse to drink and drive on the principle that it is ‘wrong’ to do so.
Policy makers and law makers are very aware of this form of societal control. However, they are less aware of the societal structure of ‘cyberspace’, and for this reason there is the danger that the laws they make will not create the desired ethical model, and conversely will create a backlash or revolutionary movement. By taking time to develop realistic policies and effective laws, it is possible we can
avoid such a reaction. The speed with which global electronic communication is
developing has brought with it an enormous benefit to all those fortunate enough to be able to exploit it. However, it has also brought opportunities to those who are willing to abuse it. The way in which it has introduced relative and absolute
anonymity for its users may encourage acts which would otherwise have appeared to be too risky to the perpetrator. Its very nature may encourage various kinds of anti-social activities, ranging from innocent pranks through serious malicious damage to data and individuals, and downright criminal fraud. As a result of the fact that many of its principle users are relatively young, or people who may be impressionable or unprincipled, an ethos has developed in the Internet
community, in which it is ‘cool’ to be an outlaw. Moreover, the inherent power embodied in being able to control the ‘system’ is potentially irresistible.
Resources that would enable us to emphasize and integrate ethical computing behaviour may provide a stabilizing influence. Our computing environments are very vulnerable regarding distribution of information – after all, it is what
they were designed to do. If we want to change people’s behaviour and reduce the
attractiveness of becoming a virus writer or hacker, we must start ethical computer education at a much earlier age. I think the way forward is to recognize the different factors introduced by computer technology – factors we have long
ignored. If we don’t, the technology may ultimately be self-destructive.
But that's not what you always read in the newspapers, isn't it? ;-)