Frank Abignale Jr, Bernie Madoff, Charles Ponzi, do these names ring a bell to you? These men robbed millions of dollars from thousands of people without even reaching into their pockets. All they did was come up with a “financial plan” and investors were begging them to take their money. These men are just a small part of the long list of notable fraudsters. There is no need to jump into the time machine to discuss the effects of the largest “Ponzi schemes” in history. Unfortunately, our economy lives in the shadow of its terrible effects.
There are numerous ways a fraudster can tap into someone’s piggy bank. Much of fraud has been around forever and they are the schemes our granddads could have warned us about. These old scams have taken on a new twist with the Internet. Cyberspace is simply the newest arena that scam artists have entered to widen their hunt for more people to dupe.
As blogged by Amy Hebert, a Consumer Education Specialist for the FTC, “the industry estimates suggest that one in 10 computers in the U.S. is currently part of a botnet, a collection of computers whose security is compromised by malicious software so they can be used by attackers for criminal activity and espionage.” Such malware can make consumers’ private and financial information available to hackers, slow down and harm consumers’ computers, and turn consumers into unwitting disseminators of spam emails. In response, The Obama Administration on Wednesday May 30th 2012 announced new initiatives to combat botnets. President Obama has declared that the “cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation” and that “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cybersecurity.” As a result, the President directed a top-to-bottom review of the Federal Government’s efforts to defend our information and communications infrastructure, which resulted in a report titled the Cyberspace Policy Review.
This effort has come under critique by some as effort that is “too little too late.” However, I disagree with that view on the matter. The resources put forward by the Cyberspace Policy Review are vast. It will combine the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Homeland Security (DHS), with the private industry to lead the Industry Botnet Group (IBG). Additionally, it will group nine trade associations and nonprofit organizations representing thousands of companies across information, communications, and financial services industries. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling safer already.