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Drive on to defeat cybercrime

JCF unit using public education as one tool to curb growth

Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Cybercrime Unit is using public education as its main initiative to tackle the growing challenge of cybercrime.

Speaking at the Consumer Affairs Commission, on World Consumer Rights Day last Wednesday in New Kingston, head of the police’s Cybercrime Unit, Warren Williams, sought to educate persons about the dangers of the Internet and technological devices. He said that the unit mainly has been carrying out workshops in schools and other organisations to help people become more aware of the dangers of technology, new criminal trends that are surfacing, and most importantly, how to avoid becoming a victim.

According to Williams, the Internet is unregulated and many people tend to get too comfortable with their smart devices. He emphasised that its impossible to prevent people from using smart gadgets; however, they must be aware that there are individuals who will manipulate these devices for negative purposes.

Traditional crimes, Williams added, are evolving into non-traditional crimes, whereby people sit from their bedroom and construct ways in which they can commit criminal activities.

"We have smart people here in Jamaica. We have people who are creating malicious software that can go on your device…so when persons click on links and dumps it on your device, it turns on your camera, it turns on your audio and listens to your conversations, and since all of us like to WhatsApp, then everything you say is being captured," Williams said.

Tapping into devices, he stated, is done by using a software called Ransomeware. This software can immobilise people’s phones and restricts the user from conducting any activities on his device, and locks away the data.

He said that the information is not for persons to become afraid, but just to become more aware of the new waves in technology.

Williams said that a lot of institutions are now conducting operations online, so persons can now pay their bills online and more popular, he said, is online shopping, because it provides people with the ability to access international markets. He warned, however, that this method of buying online has to be dealt with cautiously because people are putting their financial information out in the open.

He said that the most popular cybercrime acts are electronic fraud and cyber defamation.

Williams said that there are malwares that are currently copying financial information from banking cards. He warned people that whenever they are using their debit or credit cards to swipe for payments, they need to ensure that these activities are carried out directly in their viewing, because some electronic devices have been tampered with to copy the card information.

Cyber defamation, Williams said, is seen commonly because people are using their devices to make a lot of negative comments and it’s mostly affecting people who are in relationships. He said that when relationships go sour, people have resorted to exposing confidential information online. He said that this has affected people’s mentality, led to the destruction of family, and even the migration of people to other countries.

Currently, he said that there is no data available that displays the rates of cybercrime, but the unit is in the process of developing something that can display the data.

"We have a thing called the Stay Alert app, which you can use it as a medium to make reports, no matter what kind of case it is. We are in the process of gathering the data. Those that have been reported we make an analysis on them, as to what the trend is like and what measures and strategies need to be applied to deal with the situation," Williams said.

The JCF in general and the Cybercrime Unit in particular, he said, were combining efforts to continue to educate and develop public awareness in the quest to control cybercrime.