Posts Tagged With: web

Most wanted: The name without a face

State Records NSW. Flickr. February 4, 2011.

State Records NSW. Flickr. February 4, 2011.

The proliferation of web-enabled crimes and criminals has prompted employee training by companies managing proprietary, privileged, and confidential information.  Seemingly slang terms like phishing, spoofing, and smishing have become professional jargon.  Communities are just beginning to resolve questions of legality and jurisdiction.  If those issues weren’t a sufficient challenge, the anonymity permitted by these crimes prevents even victims from identifying the perpetrators.

Unlike violent crimes, possession and use of a firearm or knife isn’t needed for web-enabled crimes.  Superior physical strength or an intimidating demeanor isn’t required, either.  Unlike conventional low-skilled white collar crimes like fraudulent check cashing or retail theft, there’s no need to show one’s face in public.  Even more, the skills needed for web-enabled crimes can be self-taught.  There’s no need for a college degree in accounting or finance to commit postmodern white collar crimes.  Identity theft can be lucrative and accomplished just by social engineering scams.

What’s the future of crime?  Will shoplifting, purse-snatchings, and, even, retaliatory drive-by shootings disappear?  After all, the risk of incarceration or death is greatly reduced by the camouflage of a computer screen.  Online shopping with someone else’s credit card can be accomplished far away from the surveillance of department store security guards.  Obtaining those credit card numbers requires only deceptive email messages, not loitering on darkened streets in isolated areas.  Instead of purchasing and using an unregistered handgun, gang members need only begin an online campaign against a chosen victim.  Names and incriminating video evidence can be posted anonymously.  What could be a better revenge against an enemy than his or her lengthy prison sentence?

Our perceptions of the safety of the web would be rudely and permanently dismissed by increasing news reports of virtual crimes.  For law-abiding people, though, the retreat of criminals from the streets would dramatically change the routines of daily life.  Nightlife could include people of all ages and inclinations.  Firefly chasing, outdoor night basketball games, and all night porch chatting might add some respectability to club hopping and partying.  Early risers could safely meditate in parks.  Families could leave gates and doors unlocked.  Community would again become local blocks rather than international chat rooms or social media.  Criminals, not neighbors would become the faceless strangers to be mistrusted. Serenity would reign.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Hope for privacy in the 21st century

Alan Cleaver.  Flickr. November 14, 2009.

Alan Cleaver. Flickr. November 14, 2009.

It isn’t just that the opportunities for attention and self-promotion have expanded.  If you’re reading this blog, you are probably aware of other blog hosts, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube.  You also know of many more social media applications.  Nearly all are free; professional versions for the seriously attention deprived are usually low-cost.  Small marketing firms and self-employed marketers to tell us how to employ social media in service to our public image have also proliferated.  Of course, the nefarious among us have been quick to exploit social media for cyberbullying, pedophilia, and identity theft.  Nonprofit organizations and government agencies have responded with advice and strategies for social media users to protect themselves.  These numerous brochures, slideshows, videos, and webinars are – needless to say – distributed by social media.

It isn’t just that social media are so widely and freely available; it is that so many people are actively choosing to use them to communicate.  The latest toothpaste commercial, coupons for the newest toothpaste flavor, and a customer preferences survey can all be easily offered worldwide online.  Pride in junior’s first word, too, can be easily shared on Facebook with grandparents living across the world.  It can also be shared with whoever on both continents uses Facebook.  Unfortunately, free access to social media has convinced some marginal sorts that any publicly posted photos, videos, and text can be copied and re-purposed as they wish.  Toothpaste manufacturers may view this appropriation as free publicity.  Junior may regret becoming a celebrity at the age of one year.

For these reasons, it is more important, yet more difficult to protect your own privacy.  Choosing to avoid the web entirely is no longer an option for people in the paid workforce.  Even if you decide not to become a member of the LinkedIn professional network, your employer may post your profile and photo on the company web site.  Use of email to communicate within and without the company is routine and required.  Etiquette for its use has improved, that is, most formal organizations have policies stipulating its format, content, and purpose.  Still, very little policy and, certainly, not any oversight prevent people from forwarding any email message they receive.  The threaded nature of email conversations is often forgotten as people are copied and recopied on new messages.  Being circumspect about the content of your email messages or demanding a phone conversation can prevent the accomplishment of tasks or the development of important business relationships.

In the future, then, both definitions of privacy and social norms about its protection will most likely change.  Just as children learn to use the telephone through parental instruction during conversations with grandparents, they will learn to post on the family social network page.  Neighbors will welcome new residents to the block or housing development by posting to their social network page.  Play dates, birthday parties, and weddings will all be scheduled and invitations issued online.  Although interest in and incidents of sexting will decline, bullying will move nearly in its entirety from the athletic field and sidewalk to the web.  No longer will people be enamored of establishing their own fame or infamy on the web, though.  Few individuals will have Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest accounts.  Even the creation and maintenance of web sites by individuals will decline.  The web will become just another, albeit virtual, communication and home management appliance like an automatic washing machine or a television.

This winnowing of participation in social media will facilitate the management of your reputation online.  Slanderers, bullies, and other interlopers will be fewer and more readily identified.  Due to the instruction of children in the etiquette of social media by their parents, bullying behavior will become less severe.  Often, it will be the equivalent of silly, anonymous jokes.  Even these infractions will be promptly identified and routinely punished by service providers.  Due to this permitted and expected prior review, not background investigation of new acquaintances, life will be less surprising, but it will be much more serene.

© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013

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Virtual life: The end of street crime?

Alan Cleaver. Flickr. May 16, 2009

Alan Cleaver. Flickr. May 16, 2009

Now that more and more shopping, education, and working occur on the web, what is the future of theft, robbery, and burglary?  If shoppers, students, teachers, professors, mothers, fathers, and employees never have to leave the security of their homes, will pickpockets, muggers, and bank robbers starve?  Will police officers stop patrolling the streets and spend all of their time on desk duty?  Some criminals have risen to the challenge by developing innovative methods to exploit information technology.  Probably, most of us are aware of phishing and identity theft.  Still, firewalls and passwords to protect the virtual shopping mall, grocery store, high school, university campus, and corporate office are becoming more sophisticated.  Will thieves find it more profitable to become soldiers of fortune, professional athletes, stock brokers, or real estate developers?

Perhaps, they will develop the security technologies of the future.  Fingerprint readers in lieu of computer passwords are already economically available to home computer users.  Audible and visual alarms embedded in virus protection software may increase the attentiveness of users to warnings about potentially harmful web sites.  The use of encrypted email and video conferencing may become routine.  To prevent burglary, wireless alarm systems are already easily and inexpensively installed in residences.  Dogs may become even more popular as living, breathing, loyal, and unpaid body guards.

Their company as well as the absence of traffic may prompt long walks.  Even in cities, walkers might enjoy views of the stars as telecommuters, home schoolers, and home shoppers won’t need street lights.  Even skyscrapers might rise from lush gardens and orchards; parks would then become obsolete.  For children, their entire community would constitute their backyard.  For those missing their long daily commutes, Google Earth or video game companies would offer virtual highway travel with traffic congestion and speed traps.  Most of us, though, would probably be glad to have an extra hour to sleep every morning.

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