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Evil Consequences Of It

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The Evil Consequences of IT

Can an adolescent sixteen-year-old boy use the power of the internet to become the biggest threat to world peace since Adolf Hitler? Can cyber-criminals steal from us without ever leaving the comfort of their home? These are some of the issues that have propagated since the growth of the internet. Questions about what cyber-crimes are, how to respond to them and what their impacts will be remain largely unanswered.

The digital age has transformed how we live, work and play. Through technology it is almost possible to live your entire life online. But the opportunities and advances that technology has bought has not come without a consequence. Money launderers, fraudsters and terrorists have all capitalised and jumped at the opportunities presented to them, whilst virus creators, hackers and crackers have all prevailed in subverting the online environment. Grudge sites, hate sites, paedophilia, pornography and terrorist information are all easily accessible on the internet.

Using a mobile phone you can practically call any country in the world. A mobile phone can be used to send and receive text messages as well as access the news, sport scores, stock prices and scores of other information. Connect your computer to the internet and the entire world is in your grasp. See your bank account online. Check your stocks. Pick and choose your groceries items online or even book taxis, hotels and flights for your travel plans... But why stop there? You can use social network sites to look for old friends or find new friends! You can download and access research papers, books, newspapers, films, and thousands of other documents. You can consult company filings, university student registers, telephone directories and an almost inconceivable number of other unrestricted documents. Even after the Napster controversy you can still download your favourite music and with a portable device you can do all this from anywhere in the world!

You can communicate with anyone, anywhere by email with a click of a mouse-button. You can seamlessly telephone someone in a remote area of the world, thousands of miles away. You can pay for goods using a plastic card that is processed and validated electronically in one country but taken electronically from your account in another country. And if you need cash this service is also readily available 24/7 from a cash point machine anywhere in the world.

In the 21st century the word �digital’ has emerged everywhere in our society. Media has been digitally re-mastered or remixed. For instance in digital photographs, digital cameras, digital libraries, digital television, digital scanners and digital personal assistants. Similarly websites are bound with �digital’ as a suffix or prefix; digital-women, digital-media, digital-audio and somewhat more obvious, digital-sex.

The new economy, in the past decade, has been rapidly shaped and redefined for businesses and the individual. Increasingly, technology was sold as the �saviour’ and many companies bowed in obedience. Analyst and financial institutions laid confidence in technology investments, small and big businesses adopted new e-commerce strategies and dot coms were hailed as the future… Of course until the bubble burst!

But innovation comes with a price. In this brave new world the dark side of the internet both liberates and imprisons us! Want to stalk? Want to learn how to build a bomb? Want to rob a bank? Want to rubbish a company or person? It is all possible online. What has become increasingly obvious is that the remarkable advances and opportunities that technology provides has not come without its dire consequences and criminals incessantly continue to engage in sinister and sometimes evil activities.

Virus creators, crackers and hackers have all tried вЂ" and succeeded вЂ" in subduing the online environment. The belief that technology provides us a haven, a safe place to rest is nothing but a lie. Much rather the truth is that all of the dangers and risks present in normal life are amplified online and in a technological environment magnified, but most often ignored! It seems that we are ever more oblivious of the hazardous roads and fault line that we tread upon each day.

Many of us envision cyberspace as something which is not real, a virtual entity, for example the representation that appears on the screen when we play a game: When we shoot across the drive way in an imaginary car, score a goal in soccer or kill an opponent in a war game... If only, cyberspace is far more omnipotent! Many of our details are readily available and easy to access. Our telephone conversations, email and fax are all driven through this medium. The websites we visit, the programmes we watch, the calls we make and all the other actions we undertake in cyberspace can be easily monitored and recorded.

It is striking that we do not realise the fine line that we tread on each day when we entrust our personal details, communications and confidential material to technology. In 2001 the FBI warned that the United States financial and banking system could be crippled in 3 days by a successful attack instigated by a hacker. Alan Carroll from the FBI observed, “We cannot afford to let our dependence on automation become our Achilles heel. Our challenge is to button up the holes in our critical infrastructure, and believe me, there are holes.” Government operations, emergency services, banking and finance, transportation, telecommunications, oil and gas are all vulnerable critical infrastructures which rely profoundly on technology and so are more prone to attacks.

The �merchants of doom’ dwell in the opposite end of the panic spectrum. These protagonists caution that there are countless points to attack in the new world and that individual feud and wars in the 21st century will be fought increasingly in the digital domain. They are wary of a possible electronic Pearl Harbour and write about attacks on ATM machines, mobilephone networks and other such global infrastructures. But after the atrocious events of July 7 there are abiding and severe doubts about such predictions of so called �doom’. After all, is it such a catastrophe if your mobilephone fails to function or if the world’s ATM networks crash?

Undoubtedly, sabotage or interference of a safety critical network such as an air-traffic-control can lead to calamity and loss of life. Yet the ineffable tragic events of 9/11 do not suggest that the digital world is the new global battleground, but rather our reliance on technology left



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