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The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125487044221969127.html.
Of note, was a quote from Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley who said “These days, "practically every crime, from drug dealing to murder, involves digital evidence" .From the invention of the knife, to the gun, to the telephone and car, criminals have always used the latest technologies to aid them in their crimes. Living in San Bernardino, California in the 1980’s I remember the police had a problem with criminals in Porches, etc. escaping because they could drive up into the mountains much faster than the patrol cars could go. The police got some hot new cruisers with beefy engines and evened the game.
The current situation is that criminals have been leveraging cyber space and law enforcement has not been able to apply the right tools quickly enough. As we can see from this report, it isn’t a matter that is can’t be done, but the resources have not been allocated.
Increased expertise and resources in the digital crimes area will result in more convictions for crimes such as identity theft, but it will be quite a while before this is a significant deterrent, especially since so many of these crimes are committed across international boundaries.
Just as law enforcement needs to improve their cyber capabilities, users need to become more aware of their cyber surroundings, the tricks used by the criminals, and the tools they can use to help protect themselves. The arrest of a person who steals your identity does not help you recover from the hassle of the experience. Prevention is far better than clean up.
October is National Cyber Security Awareness month and the great folks at www.staysafeonline.org have a list of events for the month of October at http://www.staysafeonline.org/content/events. You can also check www.securingourecity.org for cyber security information. Take the CyberCrime Pre-assessment quiz at http://securingourecity.org/resources.php and see how you fare.
Law enforcement is making gains in the cyber capabilities, but for the foreseeable future your cyber security is going to be more dependent upon your actions than anything else.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET