Cyberscary: 4 Digital Threats to Worry About

Article excerpt

1. Privacy violations: Internet privacy is dwindling. Every purchase you make, flight you take, website you view, file you download, person you call, and email you send is tracked, and these profiles are then stored indefinitely and often sold to the highest bidders--whoever they may be. Personal data long thought to be confidential simply isn't anymore. Consider your identity while walking down the street. Facial recognition technology has passed from law enforcement to the public realm--Facebook uses it in many countries, gathering data from images to recognize you (unless you know to opt out of the feature). That's a violation of your right to privacy, right? Wrong. And who's to say Facebook's photo database, growing by several billion photos a month, won't be handed over to law enforcement agencies or corporations in the future?

2. Cybercrime: Cybercrime knows no boundaries. It allows criminals working from the other side of the planet to evade detection and confound law enforcement agencies that must work within their narrow jurisdictions. And it's massively expensive: The global cost of cybercrime has been estimated as high as $1 trillion a year, roughly on par with the international drug trade, according to the European Union. You might not think phishing and spam could result in physical harm and death--but they can. In July 2011, a Japanese woman died after taking a prescription diet drug she had bought over the Internet. The drug arrived from Thailand and contained an undisclosed ingredient--a controlled substance linked to heart failure. Fortunately, governments around the world have at last started addressing this issue. National cyberpolice units are set to increase in number, size, and funding, and the United Nations has a group devoted to this threat. …