23 September 2006

Technology a double-edged knife

ALMOST 25 years after the commercial success of the PC we now almost consider it indispensable in our every day life. Although it is still a luxury item to a section of the society, it is only a matter of time before they will be exposed and engulfed by this little device through common shared access system. The power of information and communication technology can be accessed even through the telephones which are often considered more affordable to most people.

We have witnessed that technology such as the computers have grown much beyond their initial computing functions. Robotic surgery, electronic match-making, remote-sensing weather forecasts are reality of modern times. Social life is sustained and nourished through electronic devices and channels.

Businesses are considering information processing a necessity. Governments are aiming to meaningful information exchange with citizen for providing public services electronically. Finance industry is showing interest in creating electronic cash and asset related documents and has established secure and widely-covered networks.

True to the nature's law that nothing can be perfect, technology has its negative aspects as well. It has opened up affordable and accessible opportunities to anti-socials and criminals to thrive in the cyber world. Technologies are providing new avenues for crimes both traditional and non-traditional. Traditional crimes such as theft, stalking and money laundering are being done electronically though non-traditional means. Novel crimes such as cybersqatting, phishing and spamming are plaguing the cyber world.

Cyber space is the word commonly used to mean a range of digital avenues such as the Internet, Electronic Bulleting Boards, online services used for exchanging information through electronic network and other digital communication systems. Millions of people have connected their Personal Computers to the Internet. By this they have exposed their sensitive data to millions of others including the cyber criminals.

Internet-based scams and other abuses are exploiting the Internet's unique power to connect us to millions of people all over the world. Businesses worldwide have created internal computer networks to organise and share business information among their employees. Such systems also connect with their customers and collaborate with their partners. Data that needs to be shared between them needs to travel through secure channels. Only those with authority need to have access to data and not simply everyone on the connected network.

The network of people in the digital world is ever increasing, making every single participant more vulnerable. In exchange for the comfort of banking or trading online, one has to risk their identity and privacy. No longer can we remain blissfully ignorant about technology. We are forced to learn to protect our privacy and protect our assets digitised for the digital world. Our home computers can be hacked. Emails accounts can be trespassed and we may even look like spammers when our address book is misused. Our children are more vulnerable to the cyber criminals and they may be caught unaware while surfing online or chatting though message centres.

It is high time that we had some homebound policing in addition to Internet Service Level regulation. With due responsibility on the part of an intermediary service provider, a cohesive self-regulation must take place with industry standards, policies and codes of conduct. An authoritative supervision must hold regime over the application of such standards and procedures.

Due to the inherent nature of the Internet no single regulation can bind the entire global operations. National regulations can be enforced only within national boundaries. This in legal terms is called as 'jurisdiction'; an area within which a law can be enforced. Digital Oman will take you through an enlightening journey of cyber crimes. It shall be both informative as well as entertaining with real world legal cases. Let us get to know the spammers and spoofers with all their motives.

It's time to learn cyber combat techniques to break the cyber invasion of our privacy with Digital Oman.

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