Tackling cyber fraud

Business Times, Monday, 7th November 2011

From your experience, is cyber-fraud a genuine threat and are online users sufficiently aware of the dangers?  What should consumers, companies and the authorities do to minimise the threat?

Earlier this year, computer hacking group Lulzsec launched cyber attacks against several high profile entities including the likes of Sony Pictures, the US Central Intelligence Agency and News Corporation, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch.  This was an alarming eye-opener not just for the business community but also the world at large.  This extreme example should sound off alarm bells for individuals who shop online as well.  If these hackers could cripple such huge conglomerates, how easy could it be to clone a couple of passwords and credit card details?

With the proliferation of online shopping, it seems like cyber-fraud is becoming increasingly commonplace and I’m sure that most of us know of someone who has been a victim of it, if not become a victim ourselves.  It is indeed a genuine threat and online consumers should be more vigilant, especially when shopping at unsecured websites.  Consumers should understand the risks they are taking and only input their credit card details at websites that carry security certificates like the VeriSign Identity Protection Network.

On the other side of the coin, companies which offer e-commerce should strive to give consumers peace of mind by fortifying their websites with such security seals.

Being a borderless platform, e-commerce is certainly not easy to police.  While e-commerce websites backed by a brick and mortar or registered business give consumers some sense of security, perhaps the authorities could find a way to regulate those not backed by a registered business like blogshops.  This would not only ensure the proper conduct of such businesses that operate online, but could also help to ensure that a minimum level of security is put in place so that consumers can have added peace of mind.

Additionally, what will be a further deterrent to cyber-fraudsters would be having an organisation like the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) to act as a watchdog overseeing online businesses.  Online shoppers may then lodge complaints with this watchdog should the need arise.

Ultimately, I believe that it is important to constantly educate the general public, and the authorities could help to provide online consumers with clearer guidelines on how to identify ‘secure’ sites.

 

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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