APATHY Enables Cyber Crimes

I see Cyber crime with the potential to shut down business on the internet in the next 5 years.  I say this for its shock value, or maybe not, follow me.  The world economy runs on the internet.  Cyber crime is now larger than all the property crimes combined.  Leading the charge is Identity Thief, the ability to collect enough personal information (i.e. SSN, DOB, Acct #, Names, Addresses, etc.) enables the thief to assume or create a new identity.  Their instrument is then some scam, something as simple as check & credit card fraud or more high value crimes like mortgage modifications, death benefit claims, vacant home rental hijacking and more.  Mortgage Lenders, Insurance Companies and Securities Dealer process consumer information across the internet every day.  The ability to capture this NPI without your knowledge is routine in the right hands.  The apathy within our business and government communities on cyber security is astounding.  I can kill you with statistics but my firsthand knowledge working with hundreds of companies leads me to this; a vast majority does not practice cyber security even when they have the tools available to do so.

Coming out of the winter of 2013, some of the largest retailers reported credit card and identity thief affecting by some estimates over 100 million people.  When one third of Americans can have their credit cards compromised, each with a $50 liability, that’s $5 billion in consumer liability and according to the FBI, the average credit card thief is $4,930* for a half a trillion dollars in bank and retailer liability or 3% of the US Economy, that’s twice the annual rate of inflation.

The most distributing thing and most under reported reality is cyber crime is in its infancy.  It only takes a small but sophisticated group of people to steal the targeted data but it takes a well-organized network of criminals to execute the scams.  The growth of these criminal networks is like the California gold rush.  People stealing credit card numbers at restaurants all the way to people hacking for thousands are not the same ones committing the financial crimes.  There are criminal networks that will pay $50 to $100 for stolen credit card information and more depending on how much NPI is stolen and how clean it is.  How clean means, does anyone know if it’s missing.  Cyber crime is just getting started and will affect everyone of us financially if we do nothing about it.

Protecting NPI at the source and within the conduct of our business should be the focus.  We need to stop identity thief and we have the tools to do it today.  The apathy or just plain negligence to do so is the problem.  Even though government has enacted laws and regulations mandating cyber security, they don’t even practice it or enforce it.  Mortgage, Securities and Insurance organizations are like finding the mother vein.  The NPI involved in processing mortgages, life insurance and annuities applications could bring thousands of dollars on the criminal networks, especially for high net worth individuals.  What would you do then when this same person discovers your organization was the source, hope you have deep pockets because I know you don’t have cyber insurance.  We need to focus on the tools we have today and pull our heads out of the sand.  When cybercrime finally affects the majority of consumers, they will stop conducting business on the internet and with anyone who does, in about five years.

* Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Javelin Strategy & Research, 6.18.2013