Cybercrime & Cyberbullying Cases that Increased Significantly during the COVID-19 Outbreak
The present outbreak of the Coronavirus from China to everywhere in the world has made people and the general society highly vulnerable in every way. During this current pandemic, people are being forced to stay at home. This has resulted in more people than ever before relying on their mobile devices, computer systems, as well as the internet for communication, work, shopping, sharing, and receiving relevant information. This dependence on the internet and internet-enabled devices have minimized the effects of the pandemic, such as social distancing and the stay-at-home order.
1). Types of Cybercrime and other related crimes that increased significantly.
While law enforcement agents and other security entities have reported a reduction in physical crimes due to the stay at home order, the opposite can be said about cybercrimes, cyberbullying, domestic violence, and other related crimes.
Some of the cybercrimes that have shot through the roof are:
(a). Fraud Schemes: Because of the pandemic, supplies such as hand sanitizers, face masks, and gloves. This had thrown the opportunity to online fraudsters to take advantage of the panicking public. They put up fake online stores that claim to be selling these products. And then people pay online. They will take the money but never send any supplies to the supposed buyers. Even when they do send through some supplies, it is either counterfeit or substandard.
(b). Governments of most countries, such as the USA and Canada, are promising to pay their citizens some money to help them through this period of economic inactivity. However, there are not enough programs established to assist in efficiently distributing this money equally to several citizens. This way, people have no idea how to get access to the money. So, in some countries like Canada, available reports suggest that there have been rounds of fraudulent messages in the form of texts promising those who receive the messages a link to the government funds. It is reported that this scam is meant to get bank account information from members of the public who are careless with their data.
(c). Cyberattacks through Ransomware: Some attacks are way more malicious than others. They are directed towards hospitals and testing centers, forcing some activities of already strained health systems to be stopped. Like a recent cyberattack that had targeted a hospital in the European country, Czech Republic. The attack had reportedly forced the hospital to postpone their surgeries, forcing them to send patients with acute illnesses to alternative hospitals nearby. In the attacked hospital, the whole IT department was shut down, thereby crippling the primary health care provider, just as the outbreak of the coronavirus increased.
(d). Phishing and Malware: Phishing Campaigns, as well as malware sent from websites or documents which seem genuine that appear to provide advice or information about COVID-19, are typically used in the infection of computers in an attempt to extract essential and confidential information from unsuspecting users.
(e). Interception of valuable company information: Cybercriminals have been able to target hacking into the systems of big companies. They have been able to do this by attempting to target employees of these companies who are working from home with verified company log-in details.
(f). Spreading of fake news: Bad information and fake news such as figures of victims, treatments for co-vid 19, and other supposed important information are being spread by malicious individuals to cause panic, instability in the society, as well as distrusts in governments. They also create fake news to counter the measures being taken by the government.
(g). Cyberbullying: This is one of the cybercrimes that had steadily increased during the viral outbreak. Cyberbullying generally means abusive actions that are being done through electronic communication mediums. Examples of cyberbullying include harsh text emails or messages, rumor sent through emails or posted on popular social networking sites, as well as embarrassing pictures, websites, videos, or fake online profiles.
(h). Domestic Violence: Based on recent reports worldwide, reports from global domestic violence have skyrocketed ever since the worldwide stay at home order. People in abusive relationships now report of constant domestic violence and assault more often than ever. Homes who have abusive parents also have recorded spiked increases of domestic abuses since the stay at home order was established and enforced as a means of thwarting the spread of the virus.
2). Importance of having mental health support/psychological and legal support for victims of cyberbullying and cybercrimes.
The effects of cybercrimes and cyberbullying can have a significant debilitating impact on the victims, which can become debilitating. An overwhelming sense of loss, shame, embarrassment, and a battered ego are often some of the overpowering emotions that victims of these crimes feel. Therefore, due to the sensitive nature of the crimes, it is not something that friends or family members can help the victims with. While monetary compensation may be a short-term solution, the psychological effects of the crime still retain an impact on the memory of the victim. The victim may become prone to aftershocks and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In light of this, it is essential to establish a support system for victims. There should be a health support system for victims of these crimes to check their health after the experience. In the same way, a psychological support system can be established for the victims in the form of counseling and therapy. The psychological support system technically clears out any traumatizing which the crime may have left in the memory of the victim. Furthermore, a legal support system should be established for these victims too. Legal support is instrumental in compensating the victim and punishing the perpetrators for avoiding a recurrence of the crime.
Support services for victims of cybercrimes and cyberbullying are essential and necessary in numerous ways such as financial, health-wise, psychological, mental, personal and so on.
3). Long-term effects of cyber-bullying for victims.
Bullying is widely thought of as something that lots of children go through at some during their lifetime. But, smartphones and the internet, have helped elevated bullying to an extraordinarily advanced and distressing type of social persecution. Recent studies have been proven to show that the unpleasant effects of cyber-bullying can last for a long time into adulthood. Some of these effects are as follows:
(i). Loss of confidence: A straightforward action of cyberbullying could lead to battered self-esteem, causing the individual to have confidence in their abilities. Once a child is bullied, they feel powerless. This erodes the ability for them to see themselves as having the ability to be self-protective in certain situations. While the act of bullying may have happened several years back, it still leaves lasting damage to the affected individual. When they finally get to adulthood, people who had been victims of cyberbullying be doubtful about their capacity to handle some social conditions properly, they can also doubt their capabilities to manage specific incidences effectively, or they could have doubts regarding their self-worth. These constant and often overwhelming feelings of incompetence or weakness can haunt victims in performing correctly at school, at work, or in their relationships
(ii). Depression and anxiety: The increased feelings of depression or anxiety are frequently the direct consequences of a cyberbullying experience. This happens as the affected individual remembers the helplessness and total loss of control, which came with the experience. They can also take to busing powerful drugs and other related substances. The negative emotions may eventually increase with time and stay with the person even when they become adults unless they are treated with medications and therapy.
(iii). Anger Problems: The majority of cases have shown that the lasting effects of the personal loss of control, which had happened in the course of a cyberbullying experience, can quickly become a severe anger problem. The severe felling of individual helplessness that people undergo during bullying could be deeply ingrained in them. This could lead to outbursts of furious rage each time that the person senses that they are being cornered or threatened. This typical behavior can cause problems in interpersonal relationships or relationships at work.
(iv). Poor Health: The victim could suppress the resulting emotions from being bullied. This could subsequently lead to bouts of poor health in the victim. This suppressed emotion could prevent the person from leading a healthy, enjoyable life since they still have the same terror and fearfulness from the first event.
(v). Withdrawal from social situations: The effects of cyberbullying could cause the victim to avoid socializing with their age groups, just because they have no confidence in their capability to control these relationships. Additionally, they do not trust people to accept them the way that they are. Reactions like this may become very damaging to the victim, making them become withdrawn. This withdrawal behavior often leads to emotional challenges and can cause the person to contemplate suicide.
4). The need for innovation/technology that can tackle these issues.
With the rise of cybercrimes and cyberbully on the increase, there is a need for an effective technology or innovation to check these negative trends. The internet is here to stay and not going anywhere, and so are cybercrimes and cyberbullying. The sooner a tool or a technology is created to check these, the better for vulnerable members of the society. This is necessary because the perpetrators of these crimes are getting smarter by the day and targeting an increasing amount of vulnerable people.
By Agita Pasaribu – Founder of Bully.id:
A future mobile application. Bully.id uses Artificial Intelligence (NLP), Blockchain and Gamification to enable early detection of mental health issues and providing secure tailor-made solutions for each users.