Saturday, April 20, 2013

Singapore police cyber sleuths arrest 34-year-old man for alleged online bomb threat after Boston marathon blasts

Nothing seems sacred on the Internet as almost every topic under the sun has been lambasted by bellyaches.

Nothing is secret either as your keystrokes and page views can be traced back to your side of the screen, doubtless with some difficulty but not with absolute impossibility.

The 34-year-old man arrested in Singapore on Thursday (18 April'13) for allegedly posting bomb threats online has learned firsthand about the fragility of anonymity in cyberspace.

He was traced and arrested by the Singapore Police Force 24 hours after a police report was lodged about his alleged postings.

A Straits Times report on the arrest quoted Deputy Assistant Commissioner Keok Tong San from the Singapore police saying:"Police will take swift and firm action against those who threaten the sense of safety and security in Singapore by making such irresponsible remarks while hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet."

People found guilty of making false threats of terrorist acts can be fined up to S$100,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both.

It is likely this will be a lesson the 34-year-old will (hopefully) be smart enough to register and never forget.

Defence-related postings that had the police knocking on the front door of certain netizens include the hoax posting that a Singapore air force F-16 had crashed. That comment was also said to have been posted anonymously.

The modus operandi (MO) of our cyber sleuths has never been revealed publicly - and for good reason as this is a trade secret best kept under wraps.

Other countries probably have such a capability too, as we witnessed recently when cyber attacks were traced back to their point of origin.

Electronic order of battle
Such awareness could, theoretically, be used to amass a wealth of information on the identity (as in the person or persons), source (as in the country they hail from) and intensity of postings (which are the pet peeves) to unmask the intent and MO behind these anonymous posters.

This "electronic order of battle" would betray the identity of netizens who repeatedly post comments using multiple nicknames and point out from whence the came.

The noise in cyberspace, however sarcastic and hurtful, is not why an EOB should be compiled.

Stripping aside snide and snarky remarks from nameless netizens, the ones that matter are remarks that may signal a larger, well-organised intent to shake, rattle and roll over the morale and well-being of Singaporeans. It is probably not without good grounds that Singaporeans have been cautioned not to take all comments in cyberspace at face value. Some may be flame bait posted by trolls outside this country with not so good intentions or in-country individuals with a divisive mindset.

With comments in cyberspace penned anonymously, you and I are none the wiser - unless you have strings to pull for this sort of intel.

It is nonetheless comforting to know that the sheriff can police cyberspace for those occasions when netizens step out of bounds, either from sheer stupidity, malice or mischievious intent.

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