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Ifsm 201 Research Paper

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Information Technology: Identity Theft
IFSM 201

Information Technology: Identity Theft
Information technology has without a doubt changed the face of the world today. It has made amazing leaps and bounds in advancement in just the last 10 years alone and is continuing to flourish. Those who once owned personal desktop computers are now sporting portable laptop models, and people now have wireless devices which are both computer and phone combined. Those same devices are used to schedule doctors’ appointments, make bank transactions and buy goods within the cyber world. This whirlwind of technological change has created challenges in protecting personal data. Most users are not thinking security as they rush to purchase the “deal of the day” or conveniently look at x-rays that their physician sent over email. Unfortunately, this is a flawed mentality; important information whether on a device or in a file must be secured to protect an individual from identity theft.
One might ask where the roads of technology, identity theft, and ethics intersect. That would be an easy answer. Scammers are anywhere and everywhere, use numerous technological systems to gather information to steal identities, and stealing from someone is not exactly ethical. These seedy individuals are starting to capitalize on the newest technologies while still making millions off of the old. For instance, unethical people may use smart phones application malware, email scams, telephone solicitation and credit card skimming devices, just to name a few, to bilk you of hard earned cash. All without being physically present when the theft happens. The following paragraphs will highlight how this happens starting with smart phones. Smart phones are big business. These devices are convenient little packages allowing access to information at a moment’s notice anytime and anywhere. According to Shepherd (2012), worldwide sales statistics highlighted a 47.3 percent sales increase to 149 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 alone and total sales for 2011 were just as strong with 472 million units sold, accounting for 31 percent of all mobile devices sold (p. 24-25). The problem with this convenience is most devices are shipped from the factory with the security features disabled and some users don’t even know there is security features on the phone. Then again, who wants to read the user manual; that takes time and it’s not very convenient. Owners also have a false sense of security when it comes to smartphones. Their consensus is that malware and virus protection is for computers only and they are safe from attack. They tend to believe there are enough security features in their phones; hackers are not interested in phones; there is no such thing as a phone virus; and they have little to lose even if their smart phones are taken (Loo, 2009). This could not be farther from the truth. Even though mobile devices do not account for the majority of fraud and identity theft, they have become a ripe target of opportunity for hackers and thieves. Malware code is on the rise for Apple and Android devices with Android taking the biggest hit by cyber-crooks. According to the 2011 Lookout Mobile Threat Report (2011), an estimated half million to one million people were affected by Android malware in the first half of 2011; Android apps infected with malware went from 80 apps in January to over 400 apps cumulative in June 2011.
Even though smart phones are now a target for information miners, fraudsters are still successfully using the old technologies. Email and phone solicitation are still two of the highest causes of fraud and identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book (2013), those who reported on how they were first contacted regarding their fraud case; 38% stated by email and 34% stated by phone. These solicitation incidents cost complainants over $300 million in losses in 2012. Although overall fraud has declined since 2010, identity theft has increased 3% and has climbed to 18% of the over 2 million fraud related complaints in 2012. Other technologies such as credit card skimmers accounted for 4%.
With those alarming numbers and monetary statistics it’s easy to see why crooks are willing to risk jail time for easy money. And they have continued to be successful in their endeavors even after numerous campaigns by companies, news groups, and individuals to smarten citizens of hallmarks of hackers and fraud. Citizens need to really open their eyes. The convenience is better mindset along with it can’t happen to me mentality is costing hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Users must take a smart proactive stance in protecting their information whether it’s in a physical or electronic file or on a credit card or a smart phone. If owners continue to disregard simplistic security steps, technology will be the forefront of cyber and identity theft.

Works Cited

Federal Trade Commission (2013, February). Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book. Retrieved April 08, 2013, from Federal Trade Commission:
Loo, A. (2009). Security threats of smart phones and bluetooth. Communications of the ACM, 52 (3), 150-152. doi:10.1145/1467247.1487287
Lookout Mobile Security. (2013, April 7). Lookout Mobile Threat Report. Retrieved from Lookout Mobile Security Web site:
Shepherd, G. (2012, March 1). Smart is big. Tech Trader, 4(2), 24-25.

[ 1 ]. Credit card skimming devices are commonly affixed to ATMs and gas pumps and read your card number as you slide it through the bogus device.
[ 2 ]. Lookout Mobile security is a company that provides security from emerging threats and protects the mobile data of 30 million smartphone users.

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