SOFTWARES AND SOFT WORDS –
CYBERCRIME AS A TECHNICAL AND SOCIAL PHENOMENON
PART 4: COMMON SENSE – THE WAY TO A SAFE VIRTUAL LIFE
In these articles we have discussed the two feet that cybercrime stands on. We have demonstrated that they work together, and one could not function without the other. The technology makes it possible for the criminals to steal our information with software, but it is the social engineering that encourages us to give them what they want. We have also seen that the way to avoid becoming a victim is simple common sense: taking a step back and asking if this “feels” right. Yet one more question remains: how can we train our common sense to function in the virtual world as well as in the real world?
The most important lesson is to understand is there is a deceptive difference in the virtual world that our brains are not prepared for. On the internet it is much easier to make things look safe when they are not. Part of our virtual common sense should therefore be to stop trusting only our physical senses or assumptions. Any website is, ultimately, a string of code which we do not see when we view it in our browser. When designing a malicious website, it is easy for the criminals to slip in a harmful line of code while not making it visible to our physical senses in any way.
In order to combat crime, we need awareness and knowledge. We should acknowledge that in the virtual world, even if our vision or hearing would tell us something is safe, we should still maintain a healthy suspicion of the site’s validity. By doubting and by studying carefully we start noticing the small telltale signs that would have eluded us otherwise.
This brings us to our last important lesson: the pace of the virtual world is different. In the internet everything can happen in a blink of an eye. The criminals exploit this, and to prevent them from succeeding you should never make decisions rashly. No matter what the crisis, it can wait. You do not need to react immediately to an email.
Professional institutions have protocols that protect you, the user. For instance, the banks tell us constantly that they will never in any circumstances ask for an account’s password. Therefore if someone claims to be from a bank and asks you for your password, you should immediately be just as suspicious as if a complete stranger approached you on a street and asked you to give up keys to your home.
When you were a child, your parents taught you not to go to the dark street. Now is the time to train yourself how to avoid dark streets in the internet. Do not allow yourself to be manipulated – not by the criminals, and not by your own mind. Take a deep breath. Consider. Take another look. Make careful decisions. Be your own best protection against the muggers and pickpockets of the World Wide Web!