The government is watching vs. the hackers are watching.

Plenty of government websites use ‘cookies’ to track our computer usage, this is considered a form of legal surveillance. Yet, surveillance is conducted by a hacker, it’s considered illegal. An argument would be that the government has our best interests at heart, that they wouldn’t do anything harmful to our computer – but hackers do not necessarily harm our computers either. Plenty of hackers just look at and track the websites you’ve been on, in the same way that the government uses cookies to do the same thing.

Would civilians rather be watched by the government or by a hacker? Who decides what is acceptable? Why is one organisation’s surveillance legal and another’s illegal?

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Do civilians fear cyber crime?

In our week 3 lecture it was noted how high the probability of being victim to cybercrime is. In 2015 it was reported that 10 percent of the population claimed to be victim of a cyber-attack (Palmer, 2015). This led to my own personal reflection – why doesn’t this deter us from using the Internet? Of course there are protective ‘apps’ and softwares but this doesn’t eliminate the risk completely, nor does it lower the amount of people being victims.

Functions that law-abiding citizens consider incredible perks of the Internet can also be used by criminals and can in fact make us victims of crime or can make committing crime easier for others. For example, being able to chat to our friends on Facebook is so easy, regardless of where they live…but this function can also be used by paedophiles to groom children or for terrorists to recruit followers. The accessibility of online banking means we can check our balance and send money within seconds…but it also means we can be hacked, even by someone we have never met. We can buy and sell goods on the likes of eBay, but that also means we can be scammed, sold counterfeit goods or be victims of fraud.

Why doesn’t the very real risk of being a victim to cybercrime deter us from using it? We’re scared of being mugged, so we avoid going to high-crime areas at night; we don’t want to be burgled so we keep valuables out of the sight of passer-by’s – so why don’t we stop using the Internet? If something makes our lives easier, are we willing to risk our safety?

References:

Palmer, D. (2015) 2.5 million cyber crimes commited in UK in a year says Office for National Statistics. Computing. Available at: http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2430622/25-million-cyber-crimes-commited-in-uk-in-a-year-says-office-for-national-statistics [Accessed 20 October 2016].