Wednesday, February 5, 2014

On the blue marble

On the blue marble

I will tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a blue planet inhabited by creatures of different species. Among all of those, there was one in particular which stood out. They called themselves humans and had managed to evolve to unimaginable limits. Development of information technology provided a remarkable level of truly interconnection between them. However, the information represented a weapon with a big destructive power and there were some individuals willing to use it against others.

The human Carlos Gómez, from a region known as La Florida, experienced in his own flesh the damage that this weapon could provoke on the hands of a bank clerk turned-criminal. He stole Gómez’s identity to perform money laundering so Mr. Gómez was captured and remained arrested for months until the fraud became clear.

Indeed there were some times when the blue marble’s inhabitants preferred to hide their true identity. Although it was not always necessary to steal someone else’s. There were websites as that generated very complete false identities with a single click for free. Although its creator did nothing illegal, he had wrought a lot of enemies.

The actual personal data of humans had a great value. Therefore, they had become the object of desire for cybercriminals, who wanted to make money selling them on the black market. To do this, they delivered misleading email campaigns, also known as "phishing" campaigns. For example, offering a job at times when unemployment was too high in order to get the victims to send their personal details and resume to them.

Computer equipment, which was fruit of the technological evolution of the Human Beings, was very often the target of many criminals. These individuals were moved by greed and coded all kinds of malware to make at the expense of users who they infected. However, many times, the signs of their presence were evident: fake antivirus messages, mysterious toolbars, redirected Internet searches, passwords that change suddenly, money that disappears from the bank account and so on.

Concerns about how to protect the money and the citizens’ bank accounts led to countless institutions to conduct studies and provide security advice for different sectors of society. For example, the organization known as the European Central Bank launched a guide of “Recommendations for the security of Internet payments" addressed both supervisors of payment service providers (PSPs) and governance authorities.

Even the most powerful country on this planet, called United States, was able to remain shielded to cybercriminal threats. Its healthcare network, where millions of human beings posted private data, had been developed by coders linked to a rival region known as Belarus. The U.S. Secret Service had reasonable grounds for believing that those developers had inserted malicious code into the network software in order to allow future cyber attacks.

At this point, I must clarify that the whole story I have just told is real and is happening today on Earth. The end of it, however, is yet to be written.


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