Cybercrime Complaints Suggest Threat is Growing

By Steve Rensberry 
   (RPC) - 11/16/10 - Hitting number 2 million on the cybercrime complaint meter is just one piece of evidence pointing to the growth of online crime, a newly released report from the Internet Crime Complaint Center suggests.
   In an announcement made this week, the center said that it had hit the new high after reaching complaint number 1 million in 2007, seven years after it was formed in early 2000.
   "It took half that time to receive the 2 millionth complain, which illustrates the IC3's increased visibility and the continued growth of cybercrime," the announcement says.
   All told, the IC3 has served as the sounding board for 757,016 complaints in the past 10 years, which it has referred to the appropriate authorities for investigation. It pegs the total financial loss at $1.7 billion.
   "Many complaints involved identity theft, such as loss of personally identifying data, and the unauthorized use of credit cards or bank accounts," the report says.
   But as broad as the criteria is for what constitutes a crime, judging the actual extent of it may be difficult.
   Security software giant Symantec released a study in September that suggested virtually the same thing -- that Internet crime was going gonzo.
   Even with the obvious vested interest, the Symantec study did carry some degree of balance, pointing to malware attacks as the largest and most common form of Internet crime. Given that it is the nature of most malicious software, malware in particular, to replicate and distribute itself automatically, apart from human hands, it may be prudent not to deem each infected computer as a distinct and separate crime. For purposes of definitive trend analysis, the verdict may still be out.
   The full 2010 Cybercrime Report from Symantec is available here:
   The Internet Crime Complaint Center report is available here:
   Still, Symantec does have a point to make, as it states in its preface to the report:
   "Cybercrime has become a silent global digital epidemic," it says. "This disturbing truth is uncovered by this new ground-breaking study into the dangers, financial cost and emotional fallout of unprotected and unethical life online."
   There is also the issue of just how very easy it is to commit crime online. Ordinary people who would never consider taking something that does not belong to them while in a physical store, will and do engage in online piracy -- partly because of the anonymity but largely because of the simply ease in which it can be done. Copy. Paste. Click. Download. It's gone beyond simple.
   The Internet Crime Complaint Center is jointly operated by the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center.