There is a general complaining game going on of being hacked and spied upon. Virtually all governments have institutions that eavesdrop on, and break into other nations’ security systems. They engage in economic espionage, monitor their own population and even commit cyber-attacks. Modern technology makes this possible and creates vulnerabilities, writes Prince Michael of Liechtenstein.
The other side of the coin is that just about every state indignantly considers itself a victim of spying and hacking by others. Whilst considering their own actions legitimate, they see such actions by others as criminal, especially if attacks come from independent bodies.
It is a very well-known fact that any information, connected to the web, can be hacked. It is also known that this results in money paid for stolen data or other advantages being derived.
It is therefore surprising how irresponsibly modern communication and data storage are used. This encompasses an entire range of people and organisations from teenagers putting personal information on Facebook, to senior government personnel, foreign and intelligence services and others, such as health services and public institutions, all being compromised.
When WikiLeaks came out, although one has to disagree with the way in which some people were damaged by disclosing this information, the really shocking thing is the carelessness with which - as an example - the US foreign service, but also other governments, stored top secret information, such as discussion notes with foreign partners, electronically. Stealing data is a crime, but storing such data is gross negligence, bordering on a crime itself.
In business, I am constantly amazed and shocked how open some financial institutions, reputable law offices and leading accounting firms are storing and exchanging sensitive information about their clients on the internet, for reasons of convenience. And this is believed to be professional. In many instances, lots of people are copied in. This constitutes an ‘el dorado’ for hackers, wishing to misuse the information for fraud, and even worse, criminal activities such as kidnapping. It also opens a wide field for economic espionage.
It is a widely known fact that illegal intrusion into data is now almost common. Consequently, certain information should never be stored and transmitted electronically. Modern communication is a blessing however, it has to be used appropriately and with a degree of caution.
In most cases, an insurance company will not pay out for your stolen car if you leave the car on the street, unlocked with the keys in the ignition. This is understandable. The way data are today stored and transmitted electronically is infinitely more irresponsible and the consequences for third parties can be devastating.
We can consider that the 'victims' in this game are accessories to the crime through their gross negligence.