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Computer crime boom costs UK billions

Date: April 06, 2005
Source: NewScientist.com
By: Will Knight

Computer crime is taking an increasing toll on UK companies, and is estimated to have cost more than 2.4 billion over the past year.

A major report issued by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) on Tuesday reveals that 89% of UK businesses with over 1000 staff experienced some form of computer crime during the last 12 months - a 6% increase compared to the same period in 2003 to 2004.

The 2005 annual review indicates that 90% of UK companies targeted by cybercrime suffered a computerised break-in, while 89% were victims of data theft. And the total cost to UK businesses of computer virus infections is estimated to be in excess of 70 million.

Some 14% of companies surveyed by the NHTCU said they had experienced a distributed denial of service attack. This occurs when a company's servers are targeted with fake data by thousands of remotely controlled PCs, and is typically linked to extortion.

Growing professionalism

Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU told an audience at the e-Crime 2005 congress in London that computer crime is becoming ever more sophisticated. "Over the past year, we have seen a sustained increase in the professionalism of cybercriminals," Deats says. "Companies are taking the brunt of criminals' attempts to steal money and data, but consumers are also being hit."

Computer security consultant Neil Barrett, of UK firm Information Risk Management, says he has seen a striking change in the motivation behind computer crime over the last 12 months. "The most obvious thing is the increase in computer hacking linked to organised crime," he told New Scientist. He adds that criminal gangs are particularly interested in targeting big businesses.

There are growing examples of organised computer crime. In March 2005 a failed attempt to steal 229 million ($437m) from the London branch of Japanese bank Sumitomo Mitsui Bank was revealed, following an arrest in Israel. But details of the case have yet to be disclosed, as the investigation is still ongoing.


Terrorist activities


And research carried out by the NHTCU suggests that disparate bands of crooks are often combining forces to commit computer crimes.

Steve Martinez, deputy assistant director of the FBI, highlighted the growing impact of computer crime globally, telling delegates at e-Crime 2005 that it now ranks behind only intelligence gathering and counter-terrorism in importance for the bureau.

Deats adds that consumers face a growing risk as criminals focus on new ways to steal money from them, and points to the problem of identity theft. Fake banking emails and web sites are increasingly being used to capture password and account information from users while computer viruses provide another way to steal valuable information.

Deats says there is growing suspicion that computer crime may be linked to terrorist activities, particularly in Eastern Europe, although hard evidence for such a link is lacking. He also warns that the sentences handed out to computer criminals in the UK are often too lenient. Under the Computer Misuse Act, breaking into a computer system for financial gain carries a sentence of around five years, but lesser offences may only carry a sentence of around six months.


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2005-07-31 15:45:31 - sehr gut Saite. Was machen Sie mein... Hans Millard
2005-04-14 15:33:43 - Fraud crimes will continue to grow like... Mr.Y.K.Raja
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