Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crime is ever-increasing

Date: July 09, 2005
By: Astrid Poei

More than half of all Canadian computer owners were victims of Internet crime and didn't know it, according to a 2005 study commissioned by McAfee, a North American computer software security company.

The study, released yesterday, revealed that anywhere between half to two-thirds of all households with computers in Canada were subject to spam or hacking whereby personal documents were sent to an unauthorized source.

"The Internet changes how people interact socially," James Lewis, the author of the study, said. "It also changes how criminals act."

Lewis, director of the technology and public policy program at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, has also worked closely with the FBI regarding computer security issues, including identity theft, malicious software and spam.

Lewis' study said, compared to 10 years ago, computer crime has escalated so much that North American consumers have lost upwards of $5 billion and businesses have passed the $48-billion mark.

He said the problem with catching cyber bandits is the challenges that law enforcement officials face such as underreporting, because technologically clueless victims don't realize their system has been hacked to send millions of spam e-mails soliciting for personal and financial information and any responses are being transmitted to the hacker.

He also said it is often a borderless crime because someone doesn't need to live in the same jurisdiction to get at your system.

Lewis recommended that computers be equipped with a good anti-virus, anti-spyware and personal firewall.



Computer crime facts:

- Banks will never ask for account information by e-mail.

- Never give computer passwords out to anyone who calls by phone. Approximately 9 out of 10 people fall for this ploy.

- In the last 10 years, Internet fraud has cost consumers $5 billion and businesses $48 billion.

- 75 to 150 million spam e-mails asking for financial or personal information are sent every day. In 2004, nearly 60,000 people fell victim to this type of fraud.

- In 2004, approximately 30 medium- to high-risk viruses ravaged computers worldwide.

-- 2005 McAfee report
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