Crack down on online fraud

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Crack down on online fraud

The government has raised the alarm against a range of scams that use social networking services and digital communications. The latest method of choice that is on the rise is SMS text phishing (also called “smishing”), which is using bogus text messages as bait to get personal credit card information and other identification details. The Financial Services Commission, the Financial Supervisory Service, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, and the National Policy Agency issued a joint warning against this latest type of scam. This is the second joint alert issued, after a warning against pharming campaigns in March.

According to the police, reports on cases of pharming - that is, cyberattacks that use malware to redirect people to bogus sites - totaled 1,263 between January and July, amounting to losses worth 6.35 billion won ($5.72 million). Incidents of SMS phishing - sending a bad Web site URL via cell phone text message to steal information and money from bank accounts - totaled 18,631 in the first six months of this year, generating losses worth 3.78 billion won. Incidents of hacking theft from legitimate bank and financial Web sites totaled 112 in June and July, causing damage worth 690 million won. The losses would have been much bigger had unreported cases been considered.

Cyberspace scams not only generate direct losses to individuals, but also dampen online legitimate business and financial transactions, as well as triggering social distrust. The scammers’ tactics have grown more and more sophisticated, making them harder to trace and differentiate from legitimate activities.

We need government measures to contain these cyberthieves. The government should name them a threat to public security and safety and declare a war against cyberfraud and theft. Law enforcement and financial authorities should plan joint crackdowns and security reinforcement. Internet portals and financial companies should bolster their defenses and security on their Web sites to protect themselves and their clients. The government also should consider legislation to compensate victims for losses, not to mention toughening regulations and penalties.

The random and reckless management of personal information online has fanned cybercrime. Online shopping sites, retailers, portal sites and wireless communications companies have lost countless client and user information over the years. The government and the private sector should join forces to protect clients’ information and combat cybercrime.

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