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Cyber Security (Contemporary Issues in Homeland Security)

Should Department of Homeland Security enhance their focus on Cyber Security?
It is the opinion of the writer that Department of Homeland Security enhances its focus on the contemporary issue concerning cyber security. This article demonstrates the increasing threat of cyber crime targeting the government, institutions, enterprises, and individuals. During my research, I will outline the numerous adverse consequences brought about by cyber crime. I will also provide potential ways in which the DHS can undertake to enhance focus and their efforts in combating cyber crime.



What factors have necessitated for the discussion? Cyber attacks in the United States are a contemporary issue and widespread becoming a critical issue for policymakers. Information systems have resulted in numerous benefits to businesses, organizations, and individuals ranging from enhanced communication and information sharing to research to ease in undertaking business transactions and operations. However, information technology has also led to the rise of a variety of cyber crime that includes hacking, viruses, and worms, identity theft, denial of service, banking financial fraud, Malware, intellectual property violations, production and distribution of child pornography, etc. Increased high-speed Internet connection around the globe and cheaper cost of internet services have led to rapid growth of the number of internet users. With the rise in the use of computer systems, cyber attacks continue to rise by over 20 percent annually with the number of the types of threats doubling (Hassanien, Kim, Kacprzyk & Awad, 2014). A recent significant cyber attack that impacted millions of people is the Ashley Madison data breach in July 2015 that impacted millions of people (Nobles III, 2015). The cyber threat comprised the Avid Life Media (ALM) user databases and personal information of Ashley Madison’s users that include financial records and email system. The site got hacked by a group calling themselves “the Impact Team.” The target of institutions and different organizations such as banks and insurance firms has led to increasing efforts to combat the crime. The paper addresses measures of fighting cyber crime and ensuring cyber safety when connected to the internet.



Synopsis of this argument
The perpetrators of cyber crimes engage in them for various reasons that include personal gain and to obtain confidential information from their targets. Private information may include business operations or financial records obtained by competitors. The Impact Team that attacked the Toronto-based ALM was not interested in selling the information, but rather demanded the shutting down of the site. The Impact Team claimed to have obtained about 9.7 Gigabyte of data comprising of names, phone numbers, addresses, credit card transaction details (such as PayPal data of the firm’s executives) and encrypted passwords. The Impact Team used the information to blackmail the firm to shut down the website permanently or would publish the information. In August 2015, the group publicly released some of the personal information obtained from the site and threatened to release much more until the site got taken down. Although the hacking did not entail any personal gain of the group, the publishing of users’ personal data risked. The case of Ashley Madison hacking represents the fine line between the aspects like general cybercrime and hacktivism. The acquisition of personal data by unauthorized persons is risky for the members and who have caused a lot of suffering if the information got used to commit identity theft crime or make illegal bank transactions of the owners. The hackers sought to use cyber crime to destroy the company with its members as well as the public. The case which is among numerous other cases in America and around the world teaches us numerous lessons that get used by DHS and federal policymakers to protect future cyber attacks.

Adverse Impacts of cyber crimes:
Cyber crime, cyber espionage, transaction fraud and other malicious cyber attacks result in significant economic loss affecting administrations, organizations, and businesses. Piracy and violations of intellectual property lead to financial losses affecting the stakeholders. The stealing of credit card information by cyber criminals can lead to running up of large bills hence leading to losing of individual’s money as well as credit card company losses. According to Hill & Marion (2016), in 2013 cyber threats around the globe led to a financial loss estimated at 113 billion dollars.



Cyber attack that targets a business and leads to a breach of a private organization or customer data leads to losing of customers’ trust and confidence. The organizations usually suffer significant customer loss hence reduced profits or increased losses. Competitors may also use cyber crime attacks to acquire business operations thus a company loses its competitive advantage in the market. Cyber attacks may also lead to potential stock market manipulation by cyber criminals leading to economic losses and reduced shareholder confidence. Phishing often gets used by cyber criminals to acquire financial gain. It is, therefore, crucial that DHS coordinates its efforts with other federal, state and local agencies and also private firms so as to enhance information security and assurance. The integration of proper security measures and techniques such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technologies for encrypting data as well as digital identity verification can assist in preventing unauthorized access to a firm’s information system.



Cyber threats such as denial of service or malware lead to a downtime period of the computer system in an organization; hence leading to economic loss of the company. Cyber crime also entails cyber terrorism in which terrorist groups use the Internet to plan to attacks, recruit and radicalize new members, use it as a means of communication and also for propaganda. Cyber attacks that take place in social media lead to detrimental consequences to the victim. For instance stalking of persons in social media may result in murders or kidnapping in extreme cybercrime dire impacts. Production and distribution of child pornography on the Internet has led to the degradation of morals in the society as well as increased child exploitation (Sirohi, 2015).

What has got done by DHS and private organizations to enhance efforts of combating Cybercrime?
I have illustrated the adverse impacts of cybersecurity; hence, it would be significant to integrate effective protection measures against cyber threats at all levels of the organizations. First, public and private organizations, institutions and enterprises that rely upon information systems should integrate appropriate measures and strategies so as to be secure from cyber attacks. The measures that can get used include the use of access controls in the system such as passwords to prevent unauthorized access to a system. The company can also protect its computer systems through an enabling firewall that blocks connections into the system from suspicious traffic. Use of antivirus and malware software is significant in preventing virus ad worms’ attacks. SSL data protection technique that includes encryption is important to protect sensitive data (such as financial records, tax records, innovation information, and business operations information) from access.

The other significant level of combating cyber threats is DHS. DHS is responsible for strengthening cyber security and resilience of cyberspace in this period of rising and widespread cyber threats. DHS should formulate policies as well as coordinate law enforcement measures concerning cyber security among federal, state and local agencies. DHS should use the high-tech equipment at its disposal as well as train and recruit competent technical experts to undertake high criminal investigations so as to interrupt and defeat perpetrators of cyber crimes. DHS coordinates with several DHS components in its operations of preventing cyber crimes that are US Secret service, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Law Enforcement Cyber Incident Reporting. DHS should design a robust cybersecurity insurance market that could assist in minimizing the successful cyber crimes. DHS should also increase intelligence and adopt effective measures so as to prevent cyber-terrorists operations around the globe. Increased surveillance of critical infrastructures and monitoring their systems prevent the potential of a successful attack on the system.

Through the paper, I have described the forms and adverse consequences of cyber crime in the society. At a glance cybercrime could seem like a complex problem that has spread and would be difficult to manage and predict. However, various preventive measures and techniques incorporated by the organizations and businesses and also by DHS would significantly lead to the rapid decrease of cyber crime incidents. The lack of cyber security awareness increases their vulnerability to cyber attacks. It is my belief that DHS enhance its efforts in counterterrorism so as to safeguard civilian government networks and critical infrastructure.

References
Hassanien, A. E., Kim, T. H., Kacprzyk, J., & Awad, A. I. (Eds.). (2014): Bio-inspiring Cyber Security and Cloud Services: Trends and Innovations (Vol. 70). Springer.
Hill, J. B., & Marion, N. E. (2016): Introduction to Cybercrime: Computer Crimes, Laws, and Policing in the 21st Century. ABC-CLIO.
Nobles III W. P. (July 20, 2015): “Online Cheaters Exposed after Hackers Access Ashley Madison Hookup Site,” Washington Post Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/07/20/online-cheaters-exposed-after-hackers-access-ashleymadison-hookup-site/?tid=sm_fb
Sirohi, M. N. (2015): Cyber Terrorism and Information Warfare. Vij Books India Pvt Ltd.

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