Cybercrime has gone from being the subject of a film or a science fiction novel to a 21st century problem that affects thousands, even millions, of people around the world. It has become a day-to-day risk for anyone with a smartphone and internet connection.
This makes alarm bells go off: Is technology exposing us to unnecessary risk? Has it created superfluous dependencies for us? Technology has made our lives easier and more comfortable, streamlining many of the essential and non-essential tasks we perform every day. Yet now it is almost impossible for us to do without it.
And if we can’t—or don’t want to—do without it, it will become essential to learn how to protect ourselves against cyber attacks. So, how do we accomplish this? We believe that the key lies in a combination of education, or raising people's awareness, and technological progress.
But that’s not all. Technology, among other things, has created a digital identity for people that has improved the lives of many, not just by making everyday tasks easier, but also by giving people access to basic aid or health services or making them less vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
However, the problem isn’t just technology itself. Ray Samani, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer at McAfee EMEA and special consultant for the European Cybercrime Centre, states that“My biggest frustration is that people see [security] as a computer problem. But that isn’t the case. They need to understand that it affects their daily lives”.
In this sense, initiatives like that of the Girl Scouts of America are crucial. At the request of its own members, the organisation has developed a program with the security company Palo Alto Networks to educate young people on basic computer concepts, cyberattacks and online security.
Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of GSUSA, told NBC in an interview that ”Protecting their identity online and knowing how to protect themselves when they're browsing and how to protect their computers and their family networks from being hacked are things that are of real interest to the girls”.
Being aware of the need to protect ourselves is not enough if we don’t have access to technological tools that allow us to do so. Luckily, because of the constant research and development efforts of many companies, technology is increasingly secure and efficient when it comes to protecting our data and identity.
Specifically, there are three areas related to the verification of digital identity that are very effective in the fight against cybercrime.
Put simply, blockchain technology acts as a public digital register of operations, and is especially intriguing when it comes to the registration and control of financial transactions. Initially designed for bitcoins, today many companies and businesses are implementing it in order to improve the security and reliability of their operations.
Biometric technologies are increasingly used in identity verification systems, as identifying a user with their own body is the most secure way to prove that they are who they say they are. Furthermore, it makes the process quicker and more comfortable for the user.
Unique Digital Identity
In the past, MWC18 proposed an interesting idea: the creation of a unique digital identity for each user that can be accessed by financial entities, telecom companies and other business that need to prove their client’s identity to carry out an operation.
This initiative would be, or should be, under the control of the government to guarantee the security and transparency of data and data usage. In fact, a collaboration model of this style is being considered in the United States between the USAA (United Services Automobile Association) and the Federal Government.
In conclusion, the fight against cybercrime is not a computer problem. Companies can provide technology and tools to protect their users, but people also have a role to play in understanding and appropriately using the technology available to them.