Over the past few months, I’ve been writing a lot about cyber crime and security vulnerabilities, especially as it impacts social media and blogs. The April 1, 2009, expansion of the Conficker/Downadup Worm Infection worried many as the 1 in 16 ratio of infected computers increased dramatically around the globe and attacks were aimed at social media services like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter.
With the increase in cyber crime and security issues, and the growing profit found in cyber crimes, where do you go to report cyber crime if you find it or are a victim of it?
The first step is prevention. As a rule, don’t open email and delete all blog comments that look suspicious. Never click on a link that looks suspicious. Keep your web browser upgraded and patched to ensure your protection from attacks from malicious websites.
Pay close attention to detail. Never give out passwords, usernames, or private information. Never publish your email, phone, or contact information unless you want to invite a response from anyone and anything.
If you won’t do it in your offline life, don’t do it online.
These simple steps will help you prevent a lot of cyber crime, but what happens when you experience it?
How to Report Cyber Crime or Security Issues
In Security and Hacking: Protect Thyself and Thy WordPress Blog, I wrote about how to protect yourself and your WordPress blog and how to report security vulnerabilities and bugs to WordPress. Let’s look beyond WordPress to how to report cyber crime in general.
If you spot unusual behavior on your blog, on other blogs, on social media tools, or elsewhere on the web, report it to the blog owner/webmaster or company immediately. It could be a simple problem with their design, code, Plugin or Theme, or it could be something worse. Report it to the person most likely to respond and take action.
Take care reporting security issues to the world before reporting them to the proper authorities. Know the difference between a bug and a security vulnerability. For WordPress users, bugs in WordPress are to be reported via the WordPress Bug Report, but security issues are to be made to firstname.lastname@example.org. The same applies to other online applications and programs. Know the difference and report it appropriately.
The United States is part of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime and other international agencies fighting against cybercrimes. To report a cyber crime, US citizens should read “How to Report Cyber and IP Crime” for information on cyber crime reporting within that country. In Canada, try the Reporting Economic Crime On-Line, and in London, the Metropolitan Police Service – Computer Crime Unit handles cyber crimes.
Other international organizations that track and help report cyber crimes include:
- Internet Watch Foundation (UK)
- INHOPE (European Internet Hotline Providers)
- Safer Internet Action Plan (EU)
- UNIRAS aka CPNI – Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure and the UK Government Computer Emergency Reponse Team
- The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)
- US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) (FTC Complaints, tips and complaint form)
- United States Department of Justice (USDOJ)
- EC Safer Internet Action Plan
- CERT Coordination Center for Home Network Security.
- CERT/CC (US)
- US Government CERT (Computer Emergency Readiness Team)
- EC Safer Internet Action Plan
- InSafe – European Network of e-Safety Awareness Nodes (EU)
- US-CERT (United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team) – Current Activity on phishing, blog, and computer scams
- UK Council for Child Internet Safety
- US Better Business Bureau
- Reporting Economic Crime On-Line (Canada)
- Network Abuse Clearing House
There are just a few of the locations for English speakers I found for reporting cyber crimes. Find out where to report them in your area and language.
Remember, comment spam and content theft are generally not yet considered a cyber crime, nor is most spam email. These are handled differently.
Cyber-stalking is a cyber crime, as is harassment. Misleading, fraud, theft, worms, viruses, computer infections, hacking, and online criminal activity are cyber crimes. The odds are that if it is illegal to do it offline, it’s illegal online.
Articles on Hacking, Cyber Crime, and Security on the Web
- Downadup Worm Infection: Cyber Attacks on the Rise in 2009
- Security and Hacking: The State of WordPress Blogs
- Security and Hacking: Protect Thyself and Thy WordPress Blog
- Downadup Spreads – Infects 1 in 16 PCs
- This is the Year of Original Content
- The Year of Original Content: How to Fight Back Against Abusers
- Exploring Social Media: Security and Monocultures
- Social Media Sites Risk Growing Threats and Attacks
Author: Lorelle VanFossen
The author of Lorelle on WordPress and the fast-selling book, Blogging Tips: What Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging, as well as several other blogs, Lorelle VanFossen has been blogging for over 15 years, covering blogging, WordPress, travel, nature and travel photography, web design, web theory and development extensively as web technologies developed.