Let’s fight against the “Silent digital epidemic” !

The post “Cybercrime today” ends by stating that the “first step to fight cyber attacks is to set up solid international rules and regulations […]”. On second thought, fighting against cybercrime starts at a lower level. It is not simply the duty of governments, Interpol or network administrators but the concern of all Internet users.

But do we actually act responsibly? Most of us have already been cybercrime victims in one way or another, but how many of us have reported them to relevant authorities and how many just ignored them?

A recent study revealed that 80 percent of the surveyed people (over 7,000 worldwide Internet users) do not believe in reporting cybercrime cases and think the criminals will never be brought to justice. And less than half of them don’t even bother to report the crime.

How about Singaporeans who are often described as responsible citizens? Well, a very recent Chanel News Asia article states that “70 per cent of Internet users in Singapore have fallen victim to cyber-crimes including computer viruses, online credit card fraud and identity theft. And, 71 per cent do not expect cyber-criminals to be brought to justice.”

Despite the increasing number of cybercrimes, most of the victims stay silent about it. This behaviour is considered as the “Silent Digital Epidemic” by some. Why?

Some say it takes time and costs money to report and follow a cybercrime case. Others say cybercrime evidences are difficult to collect making it almost impossible to bring the case to the court. In my opinion all these are just secondary reasons and the real reason is our tendency to ignore crimes that affect us less. The loss we suffer from a cybercrime is often considered negligible because most often we don’t even feel the loss. So what is the use of spending (in terms of time and money) more than what you have lost to report it? Also, victims or their peers do not see cybercrime the way they perceive real life crimes. Most of us are passive and unconcerned about virtual crimes compared to real life, often ignoring the fact that we can lose as much from cybercrimes as we do from real crimes.

This mind-set and behaviour increase the number of unreported cybercrime cases and make us uncooperative with authorities in fighting against cybercrimes. On a consequentialism perspective, decreasing cybercrimes will only benefit a large amount of people, therefore every action we take in fighting against cybercrimes is an ethical act. Governments have made it easier for us to report cybercrimes just like they did for real life crimes. Cybercrimes can be reported to local police or to related organizations and many other ways. For instance, in NUS, Computer Centre is doing a fine job in creating awareness about cybercrimes as well as taking actions on reported cases.

The famous philosopher Socrates once said he was “citizen of the world” and that is very suitable for today’s digital era where territorial boundaries have been removed making us citizens of the world and at the same time making crimes easier across the borders. Each Internet users should take personal responsibility for their as well as their society’s cyber wellness and security.

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