The Top Ten Security Threats for 2008 (Part 4) – The Number One Threat

After a few background posts on the relationship between threat, vulnerability, criticality and risk, I will now post what I believe to be the number one cybersecurity threat of 2008, which is:

  1. Cyber Masquerading to Abuse, Attack, Blackmail, Bully, Extort, or Molest.

Increasingly, we are reading stories about how criminals, bullies and abusers have caused serious harm to others, especially our children, because they can hide their true identity so easily in cyberspace.   In everyday email, blogs, social networks, discussion forums – in fact nearly everywhere, cyberspace is now the place of choice for criminals to prey on others.

Just yesterday, most of us read this sad news story, Parents say fake online ‘friend’ led to girl’s suicide, where Megan, a 13-year-old who suffered from depression and attention deficit disorder, unwittingly corresponded with her neighbor who assumed a fake cyberprofile on MySpace.   The attacker, after gaining Megan’s trust, abruptly ended their friendship by telling her he had heard she was cruel.  The next day, Megan killed herself.

Almost daily we read one heartbreaking story after the other, where cyber masquerading is used to harm others.  Hardly a minute goes by where pedophiles and other sexual predators are not using the Internet to contact and prey on children.   The list goes on and on. Here a just a few examples:

  • Michael Murdoch, formerly of Spring Run Manor, Crescent Township, was indicted in federal court on a charge of using the Internet to arrange sexual encounters with a 14-year-old child.
  • Ian Finlay, 28, a former computer security expert at Carnegie Mellon University, was convicted of trying to lure an online acquaintance he believed was a 15-year-old girl into a sexual liaison.
  • Officer Kenneth Jones, 38, was charged with using a computer to entice a teenage boy into sex.
  • Scott W. Tyree, of Herndon, Va., was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison for taking a 13-year-old Crafton Heights girl to his home and shackling her to a bed before she was rescued by authorities.

So, in my opinion, the number one information security threat for 2008 are threats against us, especially children, by individuals and groups fraudulently cyber masquerading as others.

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