In the global rush to become part of the growing digital economy, few people seem to be paying much attention to security. Every week there are new stories of computer hackers finding inventive ways of breaking into computers, with the end result usually being the loss of millions of dollars. Last weekend, two local banks became the latest victims of online fraud when hackers found a way to increase the limit of prepaid debit cards, which were then used at ATMs to withdraw cash. Over $40 million was siphoned off in approximately 10 hours.
Just how much is being stolen globally though online fraud is unknown, due largely to the non-disclosure of many thefts by companies looking to avoid the stigma of being seen as a victim of a cyber-crime. But cyber-theft, regardless of whether it involves stolen credit card numbers or a security breach in a bank’s computers, has reached ridiculous levels.
Stopping it will be no easy task. International cooperation is needed between law enforcements agencies, internet providers, governments and, of course, banks. Each of these has reasons for not wishing to disclose information, ranging from issue of confidentiality or simply looking to avoid looking incompetent, but their reluctance to cooperate is turning into our loss.
Unless the world can find a way to stop – or at least severely limit – the ability of cyber-criminals to tap into online transactions, the digital economy will be over before it ever really begins.