I was surfing through some security news this weekend and ran into an interesting article on SecurityFocus. The article references a report that states that the reported damages from cybercrime and fraud rose by more then 20% from 2006 to 2007.
One interesting piece of information turned up by the report is that while identity theft is the most commonly cited example of cybercrime, other criminal activities like auction fraud are causing greater monetary damage.
This is alarming to me both as a consumer and as a developer of security software. As a consumer if I want to buy something on eBay is it safe to do so? If a seller has a very good reputation does that make him more likely to be the target of a hacker who wants to hijack his account in order to create fraudulent auctions? I'm not sure how often, if ever, this happens but it is still a troubling thought.
Alternately, as a developer what can be done to protect the consumer in this case? Of course protecting the integrity of both the buyer's and seller's accounts is critical. If the accounts aren't compromised then reputation systems will eventually weed out the bad apples and keep the incidence of fraud fairly low. Could you detect a fraudulent auction though? Are they setup similar to cookie-cutter spam messages? Do they contain lots of spelling errors? I'm sure eBay does a lot of work in trying to weed out auctions that are suspect.
Additionally, beyond the actual monetary damages report, what damage is done when we live and work in a world where we aren't sure we can trust the party on the other end of our transactions? Alan Greenspan has stated that "the vast majority of trades must rest on mutual trust and only indirectly on the law." If Cybercrime continues to expand and become more entrenched in the fabric of the internet shopping experience and consumers become more skeptical about doing business online what effect does that have on the global economy as a whole?
If you purchase from reputable vendors shopping on the internet is a very safe and simple thing to do, but the increase of reported cybercrime damages is a troubling trend not only in the number of dollars that are stolen but also in the effect it has on consumer trust and confidence in internet commerce.
Message Edited by jgonzales on 02-11-2009 07:05 PM