Recently I was chatting with some friends about our nostalgia for AOL and the days of dial-up modems. The Internet has exploded in the 25 years since AOL brought the World Wide Web into every mailbox in America. Today, there are three times as many devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the face of the Earth. Instead of fighting with family members to stay off the phone so you could check your email, the average American now has eight devices that are connected to a network. This unprecedented access to every corner of the planet and facet of life has given the population of the world the ability to connect with each other in ways never dreamed of by the generations who came before us.
Much has and will continue to be written about the prevalence, response, and deterrence of hacking as a cybercrime. However, with the exception of crimes related to pedophilia, very little is written or understood about the use of cyber resources to commit traditional crimes. The internet and internet connected devices have aided in the facilitation of crimes such as prostitution, dealing drugs, stalking, money laundering, human trafficking, murder-for-hire, extortion, terrorism, and a vast array of fraud schemes.
It is important for policy makers, law enforcement, and vulnerable citizens to be aware of the risk of crime on the internet, besides just downloading malware. Over the years I have worked with clients who have been bullied and harassed over the Internet, swindled out of thousands of dollars from cyber conmen (and conwomen), and have found themselves the victim of sexual predators or human traffickers. The internet is a difficult place to regulate and police, so it is up to individual users to protect themselves against the risk of internet criminals.
If you have been the victim of an internet crime, or if you would like more information about protecting yourself, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.