Frequently on this blog we have discussed the growing threat of cybercrimes, such as computer hacking and data theft, and the dire consequences they pose to society. As technology continues its exponential growth, and as our reliance on technology grows more and more every day, the potential consequences of cybercrime also grow more severe.
If you don’t believe me, take a look at what’s happening in the Baltic nation of Estonia. As the Washington Post reports it, the government of Estonia has been under devastating attack from online terrorists since late April. The origins of these cyber assaults are still not proven, but government agencies, banks, news stations, telecommunication companies, and Internet service providers are all being targeted. The coordination and severity of the attacks actually threatens to topple the government and plunge the citizenry into chaos. Thankfully, experts from around the world have traveled to the country to lend their expertise to the Estonians, who are continuing to search for the origin of the cyber attacks while defending themselves against a seemingly unending onslaught.
Back here in the United States, some people seem to understand the risks of cybercrime while others are complacent. This apparent rift was also recently explored by the Washington Post in an interesting explanation of how some employers are testing their employees’ understanding of phishing without their permission or knowledge. Basically, these employers are creating their own faux-phishing emails and distributing them to their staff to see if their employees will fall for the ploy. At first, I thought this was a horrendous breach of trust. But after the article pointed out that 30 percent of employees fell for the fake phishing in the first 20 minutes of the test, I began to think that perhaps desperate measures are sometimes necessary in desperate times. It seems that none of the offending employees were punished, but instead retrained to recognize these scams and better safeguard the company’s private information.
Although I am not a fan of the deceitful tactics that these employers are embracing—there’s got to be another way—I think we must be as vigilant as possible when it comes to our safety online. Two things are clear: First, the consequences of lax online security are real. Second, even tight security can be breached; Estonia is a “wired” country. Therefore, we must work hard to educate ourselves on the dangers that can lurk in the shadows of the Internet.