is the driving force behind the L.E.A.D.E.R.
(Law Enforcement Alliance for Digital Evidence Response, Inc.) organization. Born and raised in Saraland, AL, he is no stranger to hard work. After putting himself through college and law school at the University of West Alabama and Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, respectively, Randy has spent his professional life fighting the good fight and earning an impeccable reputation of honesty, great work ethic, tenacity and loyalty.
Are Millennials More Vulnerable to Cybercrime?
For millennials (24 - 38), technology isn’t something they need to actively learn; having been using technology, in the form of devices, since they were toddlers, technology is part of their DNA: in the same way as they breathe in air without having to think about it, their brains are simply wired to use devices. Think of this way: have you ever noticed how a 2-year old instinctively knows how to swipe and scroll when they’re handed a device?
According to recent research into the usage of devices amongst millennials
, 25% of this demographic spends up to 5 hours per day on their phone, while a quarter admits to checking their phones 100 times per day.
While none of this is, perhaps, all that surprising, what it does mean is that all of this time spent online gives criminals more time to access the data on their devices – and this, in turn, allows them to use it malevolently, for their personal gain.
In the beginning, when the Millennial generation was emerging, and smart devices were still in their infancy, cybercriminals were not nearly as advanced as they are today; yes, cybercrime existed, but it was rather crude, unsophisticated, and a lot more isolated than it is today.
According to most recent research into the prevalence of cybercrime
, it is now worth $1.5 trillion on a global scale; to put this figure into context, if cyber-crime were a country, it would have the 13th highest GDP in the world.
The fact is, cybercrime has become much more sophisticated and while Millennials tended to dismiss it in the days when scams were less sophisticated and easier to detect, crimes are now more sophisticated, more frequent, less easy to detect, and involve large sums of money.
So why the continued escalation in cybercrime amongst millennials (as well as other demographics we should point out), if – as we do – we know it exists and is a very real threat?
Well, it’s simply a numbers game: cybercriminals are not actively targetting millennials per se, it’s simply that by spending, on average, 5 hours per day online, there is much more opportunity – and a huge ‘always on’ target audience – for cybercriminals to go after their prey.
Furthermore, although governments and companies alike are investing more and more resources into meeting the spiraling challenge of cyber-crime, they are constantly behind the curve and having to play catch-up: by the time one sophisticated scam has been eliminated, another wave of even more advanced schemes are already in development.
Also, given that cybercrime can spread across jurisdictions like a virus, stopping the contagion can be very difficult once it’s emerged: the fast pace at which these crimes emerge and spread allows cybercriminals to operate successful schemes for a long period, without appearing on the radar of the police.
Finally, because each country has its own particular legal interpretations and frameworks, cooperation across jurisdictions can be challenging: what’s illegal or morally unacceptable in one country may not be illegal - or even deemed contrary to societal norms – in another.
Internet of Things Devices - a Brand New Opportunity for Cyber Criminals.
Since the IOT emerged as the latest element of the technical revolution a decade or so ago, we have reached a point where there are, according to IOT Analytics
, over 7 billion internet-connected devices in the world.
However, we are still only at the beginning of the IOT journey, and it is estimated that by 2020, this figure will have increased to over 20b billion and beyond.
With IOT now in everything from lightbulbs to music devices – and pretty much everything in between that you care to think of – all of our daily activities are being recorded and monitored in a way that not all that long ago, we thought was only possible within the confines of a controlled ‘Big Brother’ style environment.
What Are Your Views On How Millennials can be Educated about Cyber Risks?
Misinformation, complacency and a mentality of ‘it won’t happen to me’ makes educating this particular demographic a real challenge.
In reality, the best form of education is simply emphasizing the need for exercising common sense caution; it’s a matter of asking a very simple question: “if I am putting my information out there, can I be confident that it’s 100% secure?”
If there is any uncertainty – or if the answer is a definite ‘no’ – about this question, simply don’t put the information out there and avoid taking unnecessary risks. At all times, be sensible and accept that there are very real and sophisticated cyber threats out there which, ultimately, only work on those who fail to take the proper precautions.
How is Digital Evidence Created by Millennials Key to Cybercrime Investigations?
Digital evidence is becoming increasingly important in criminal cases across many jurisdictions. For example, here in the US right now, in 80 -90% of criminal cases we are seeing digital evidence being used in 80%-90% of all cases.
However, with cybercrime increasing at an alarming rate year on year, governments and security agencies are having to increase more and more resources in order to achieve results because - owing to the technical nature of these criminal schemes - they require a huge time investment from highly skilled, highly paid security professionals and law enforcement officers.
The fact is that not committing sufficient resources into the area of cybercrime is no longer an option, such is the scale and cost to society, individuals, and businesses. In the vast majority of legal cases, it is now essential to have access to digital evidence to ensure a successful outcome: where once upon a time, law enforcement was about blood and guts, it is now very much about megabytes and megapixels.
Finally, just in terms of what to do if you do fall victim to a cybercrime, here are helpful tips to keep in mind:
Rather than being too embarrassed to tell authorities about your experiences, be forthcoming about it by reporting it when it happens: you won’t be the only victim, and it’s only by individuals reporting their personal experience that police become aware of the latest scheme and scams.
Once you report a crime, cooperate fully with police throughout the investigation to help them arrive at a successful conclusion; although this will include sharing all information on your digital evidence and devices, remember that this aids the investigation and is in your best interests.
Remember that law enforcement needs more support to get access to digital evidence; with this in mind, volunteer whatever information you have to ensure they have all the evidence, information, and tools they need to prosecute the perpetrators.