Rice University logo
Top blue bar image
"We're still in the first minutes of the first day of the Internet revolution." – Scott Cook

The Wild Wild West of Cyberspace

There is lawlessness, crime, and wrongdoing in cyberspace and it is growing at an exponential rate. The FBI and U.S. Secret Service have finally realized that they cannot fight their battles alone. They need help.  When the world wide web began to really grow in the early 90s, the focus was on interoperability (the beautiful magic of the internet).  Designers and information architects were in a race to build faster and more efficient systems and hardware.  Security measures were not high on the list of priorities and this may be why the internet infrastructure is so vulnerable to predators.  Cybercrime is a billion dollar business and because the majority of online networks are owned by the private sector, governments are powerless to regulate the security of network services.

In their 2013 Internet Crime Report, the FBI details statistics on internet crimes involving fraud, ransomware, and scareware scams.  The report describes dozens of devious and dirty scams such as hit man scams, FBI scams, real-estate rental scams, grandparent scams, romance fraud, vehicle fraud, and many more.  The report gives demographic statistics on the countries reporting the most crimes — USA is no. 1 — and within the United States, California has the highest number of complaints.

The GOZ virus recently led the FBI to post the profile of Evgeniy Bogachev, aka “Lucky 12345” on their most wanted list.  Bogachev and his outlaws have stolen more than 100 million dollars from the USA, alone.  The virus has infected millions of computers around the world, except in Russia, where Bogachev is considered a hero because anti-American sentiment is strong.


The GOZ virus essentially hijacks bank account passwords and steals other peope’s hard earned money.  If the virus doesn’t steal your money directly, you still end up losing money by paying higher banking fees because banks must recover their losses.  Cyber criminals such as Bogachev are protected by masking technologies so that their identities and locations remain anonymous.  Even if they are identified, they usually reside outside the United States in countries where the FBI has no jurisdiction.

The government is making efforts to apply security regulations to the banking industry.  Articles about new programs involving the FBI and corporate America are all over the media now.  Large banks lose up to 24 million dollars (each) a year and this does not include the millions of dollars that go unreported by banks.  The government is setting up guidelines or a framework for businesses to voluntarily add safety measures to the infrastructure of their online networks.

The White House recently announced that “Cyber threat is one of the most
serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.” No surprise the White House would feel this way, especially given the recent humiliation it suffered via the insurgent, Edward Snowden. The US government recently published the Cyberspace Policy Review.  Here are some key points that this document discusses:

  • To properly combat cybercrime, important qualities needed to find employment in network security positions require a mindset that seeks to undermine, corrupt, and steal millions of dollars from companies.
  • No single government agency has enough man power or intelligence to take on the cyber outlaws.
  • Citizens should be told to be more alarmed and terrified, because as long as they are complacent, security will not be a priority.
  • The US government needs more friends in the private sector as well as international friends in order to secure the global network infrastructure.

There are many regrets for those who see what could have been a more regulated and more semantic web, that is, a world wide web with more manageability. For different reasons, librarians as well as US government officials have many regrets about not intervening in the early days of the internet.  The world wide web was built so quickly, without many safety regulations, and with much interoperability. This has resulted in outlaws running wild and taking everything they can without anyone or anything stopping them.

Comments are closed.