With that kind of a
background, it is high time that we, as Sri Lankans, take a look at
Facebook and other social media tools more seriously. Facebook is not
the only social media tool that exists and there are many more such as
Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, YouTube, Wikipedia and Second Life which
falls under social media. The objective of this article is not to
elaborate on social media but to discuss about the impact and
implications of Social Media.
Does Facebook or social media in general pose a security threat? Since
the death count of Facebook victims is rising, we seriously need to take
time to study this situation. In order to answer this question, I
obtained an incident report from Sri Lanka CERT and analyzed it. The
report contained cyber crime incidents reported to Sri Lanka CERT for
the years 2009, 2010 and 2011. The data is shown in the table below.
The incidents are mainly categorized in to 10 areas as listed in table
above and the number of incidents reported from each area of cyber
crimes is also mentioned in table. Cyber crimes can be divided in to
mainly two categories as below;
(1) Crimes that target computers directly
Malware, Defacements and DoS attacks mentioned in table 2 fall under
(2) Crimes facilitated by computer networks or devices, the primary
target of which is independent of the network or device
Crimes such as Phishing, Abuse/Privacy, Scams, Hate/Threat Mail,
Unauthorized Access, Intellectual property Violation and Fake Accounts
fall under this category.
According to the table above, when we take the total of reported cyber
crime incidents throughout the three years, we can see a significantly
large increase in cyber crimes. This is elaborated very clearly through
the graph below.
According to graph below, cyber crime incidents escaladed from 69 to
1469 within 3 years which is a 2030% increase.
Total Cyber Crime Incidents Reported from 2009 – 2011
In order to understand the
trend of the cyber crime incidents reported from 2009 to 2011 and to
find whether there is an association between social media and cyber
crimes in Sri Lanka, the incidents reported for the years 2009, 2010 and
2011 are categorized in to 2 main areas using the table above.
1. Cyber crimes which
directly involve social media
2. Cyber crimes which indirectly involve social media
In the table above among the
10 areas of cyber crimes reported, except for Fake Accounts which
directly involves social media such as social networking sites, blogs or
content communities, etc, all the other cyber crime areas in table above
can be used indirectly to cyber crimes. Thus Fake Accounts are
categorized under cyber crimes which directly involve social media and
all the other areas in table above such as Phishing, Abuse/Privacy,
Scams, Hate/Threat Mail, Unauthorized Access, Intellectual property
Violation, Malware, Defacements and DoS attacks are categorized under
cyber crimes which indirectly involves social media.
According to Sri Lanka CERT,
Fake Accounts are about user profiles created in social networking
websites such as Facebook, on a person without that person’s knowledge
to impersonate that person either to insult or to gain benefits.
An observation to be made by
table above is that the cyber crimes area called “Fake Accounts” which
was not there in 2009 has been introduced in years 2010 and 2011. This
was mainly due to the popularization of social networking sites such as
Facebook. According to Sri Lanka CERT, social media started popularizing
in Sri Lanka from year 2009 onwards and after a sufficient number of
user base was established only, the cyber criminals started capitalizing
social media. Social media has created a nexus between social media
platforms functioning as launch pads for cyber criminals.
Impact of Social Media
for the Cyber Crime Incidents from 2009 - 2011
According to this table, we
can see that the cyber crimes that does not associate directly with
social media has reduced over the years and cyber crimes directly
involving social media (Fake Accounts) has increased from 0 to 1425
within the 3 years. This is very clearly elaborated by the graph below.
Impact of Social
Media for the Cyber Crime Incidents from 2009 – 2011
Graph above demonstrates an
incremental trend for Fake Accounts while other cyber crimes have been
reduced by 2011. After analysing the data on the above graph, we can
clearly see that the cyber crimes overall has increased in a large scale
from 2009 to 2011 and the main contributor to that is “Fake Accounts”
which directly involves social media.
From the data gathered through Sri Lanka CERT on the last 3 years (2009,
2010 and 2011) cyber crime incidents, we can see that there is an
association between cyber crimes and social media. Further we can say
that cybercrimes in Sri Lanka has increased due to social media. Social
media has created an environment for cyber criminals to function and
commit crimes leaving social media users vulnerable.
In that kind of a scenario, as Sri Lankans, our responsibility is to be
extra vigilant when using social media and create awareness among the
younger generation. We cannot ban younger generation from technological
advances like social media or internet. We need to understand young
minds and educate them on possible repercussions; threats and risks the
social media pose in order to safeguard them.
Facebook or social media cannot be considered a monster. It is merely a
tool. But how people use it and for what people use it defines its
nature. For an example; a man can cook with fire and a man can also be
cooked with fire.
Rangamini is an ICT Specialist who has been a consultant to many public
and private organizations on various programs, projects and initiatives.
He is a freelance journalist who contributes to national newspapers.
He is also the author of the book “Cyber Security: 01 Byte from the Cyberspace”; ISBN: 978-955-658-253-6.