February 18, 2021 at 1:34 pm #3924agoraphileOrator
Fraud is difficult to frame neatly. In the context of my research, cyberfraud is simply defined as fraudulent activity enabled by deception and amplified by technology. We are constantly refining our understanding of fraud indicators, or beacons, that we recommend Canadians watch out for. From dark pattern techniques to urgent demands, many people already know to be suspicious of sketchy, unsolicited contact.
However, this is a very volatile time in the world where we have seen public trust damaged by the prevalence of disinformation, the discreditation of professional expertise and the normalization of fringe beliefs. Most Canadians see it on a daily basis, from the scam calls placed to their phones to the phishing emails they receive, but the fact that these activities have crossed over into areas where trustworthy content is expected signals a broader shift and a trend that should concern all Canadians.
It is now critically important to remain vigilant, but also to keep a strong watch on your fear gauge.
Although it is under constant assault, we cannot afford to lose our human ability to trust, even as we question the motives behind the volumes of promotional messages we face and the contrived explanations behind initiatives that collect and monetize our data. Although they look sophisticated, new attacks are fundamentally similar to the old, with social engineering taking centre stage and enabling more complex cyber attacks. It all comes down to plain old abuses of trust, many of which are preventable. To be effective, the recommended practices to combat these must necessarily be simple. I recommend these three approaches as a starting point:
1. Reduce the flow of noise. From online ads, to spam, to social media channels and unsolicited phone calls, we are deluged with data. Each of these potential interactions is a decision and those decisions have a cost. They are exhausting. They chip away at our energy levels, erode productivity, contribute to rising levels of depression and eventual complacency. We don’t need to unplug, but we need to filter. That means rejecting default settings on smart devices, adjusting spam and advertising filters and blocking spyware. From DNS firewalls to ad-blockers, we should all strive to reduce the flow of noise, not only because of the risk of identity fraud but simply for our own peace of mind.
3. Share quality information. With so much information, misinformation and disinformation to go around, those who preach the gospel of vigilance and the virtues of skepticism can begin to sound like paranoiacs and take on the aura of conspiracy theorists. This is of course the goal of those who sow the seeds of fear and mistrust: to sell us a cure to the anxiety they contribute to creating. Bad news and incendiary topics spread by word of mouth, but articles such as this one are tedious, negative and potentially disheartening. This is why those who ‘get it’ have a duty to not only pass it on, but to correct others who repeat untruths. It is a simple, but important act that can help rebuild trust and increase resilience against corruption, fraud and unethical conduct.
As we have done for millions of years of social connection, the easiest thing we can do is spread the word. Paradoxically however, despite the ubiquitous connectivity, that has become the hardest thing to do in our noisy, modern society.
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