Dealing with cybercrime

We have accepted that we are in the age of technology and that it plays a vital role in the daily lives of Bhutanese. We should also accept that there are challenges and that we should not be surprised when we hear about social media accounts getting hacked, password getting stolen or losing documents stored in the safety of the office computers.

It is emerging now that there has been a spate of attacks on Facebook accounts this year. It is not only the popular accounts. Most of us on social media have seen friends sending messages of having to create new accounts as some got “suddenly deactivated.”

Cyber attacks are not new. It has been the trend. Within the last two days of reporting hacks on social media accounts, cyber criminals have stolen millions of dollars. Cyber security company, Mitiga reported on Thursday that a newly detailed business email compromise campaign resulted in 150 organisations worldwide diverting USD 15 million to hacker-controlled bank accounts.  German Privacy Watchdog fined the popular clothing retailer H&M USD 41M for spying on workers. There are several others.

Having become a part of the globalised world, our natural boundaries or the peace we enjoy are no safeguards for cyber criminals. In fact, given our poor computer literacy or lack of  cyber security awareness, we have become more vulnerable. We have had incidents in the past how e-mail and bank accounts were hacked and institutions lost money in the millions.

Like some of the people whose accounts were hacked said, today it is social media accounts. It could be on government accounts, financial institutions and even classified information or the defense systems. Computer-related crime is something we will have to deal with.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the way we live and work. We are convinced that we have to leverage technology and change the way we work as we try to live around the pandemic. Cyber security is the real concern if we are to adjust our lives in the new normal.

Are we even aware of the risks? Are we prepared to deal with it? How much are we investing in security? The questions are many. The international computer trend has nurtured a culture in which security has become an indispensable component of computer development. Crime through technology is not only sophisticated, it knows no boundaries. We become as vulnerable to international criminals as to local perpetrators.

We can surmise that not many are aware and do not have the discipline as we embrace change forced upon us by technology. For instance, many parents bought mobile phones or laptops to assist their children with the new norm in education- online learning. Many created social media accounts, but not many are aware of the risk of exposing their children to the internet world.

Some say legislation is equally important. While legislation has become indispensable, the nature of cyber crime is complex. The recent hackers were from Los Angeles, USA. How do we reach to them, forget tackling it? Many organisations from around the world, including several cities and universities are paying significant amounts of money to recover their files following a ransomware attack. Could we afford the same?

The convenience of technology and the social media apps have convinced even our farmers, making us vulnerable. Perhaps, not the ultimate solution, but education and awareness and the discipline in using technology could be of a great help.

We have a body, Bhutan Computer Incident Response Team, which is mandated to enhance cyber security. A quick glance through its website alerts netizens of the security updates and vulnerability notifications. But not many are aware of the body or what it is publishing, forget the risks. 

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