Computer Crime Research Center

Interpol: Cybercrime fight must be global

International experts in fighting cybercrime are calling for computer-offence legislation to be more widely established, and greater cooperation in combating crime

Top international cybercrime-busters wrapped up a three-day conference in the world's most wired country on Wednesday with a call for greater global cooperation to fight online offences.

Senior cybercrime police officers from 37 countries agreed at a meeting in South Korea that worldwide investigations were needed to chase online criminals who operate with little regard for state frontiers.

"Cybercrimes are global crimes, using global IT networks," said Des Berwick, an executive officer of the Australasian Centre for Policing Research, on the sidelines of the fifth Interpol conference on computer crime.

Interpol -- which promotes international police cooperation and does not deal with crimes involving just one country -- is based in Lyon, France, and has 179 member countries.

It was the first time Interpol had held its computer crimes conference outside its headquarters and it was no coincidence South Korea was chosen as the venue. South Korea has the world's highest number of high-speed broadband Internet users, and has cybercrime statistics to match.

Interpol has had a unit, the High Tech Crime Unit, in charge of online crimes since 2000.

"A large component of this conference in Interpol activity is the encouragement and establishment of cooperative mechanisms. So you have communication liaison," said Berwick. "They can investigate simultaneously around the world."

A lack of laws covering online crimes has hindered international investigations into the growing number of crimes on the Internet.

About 50-60 countries have their own laws against cyber crimes, but more than 100 countries have no laws on computer offences, said Marc Goodman, a representative of Interpol's US operations.

"Having laws on the book is the first step," said Berwick.

In South Korea, cyberoffences, including slandering and financial fraud online, shot up 126 percent to 33,289 cases in 2001 from a year earlier, and totalled 39,482 cases in the first eight months of this year, according to the cybercrime centre under the country's National Police Agency.

The number of cases jumped 43 percent in 2000, with computer-savvy teenagers topping the list of offenders.

Online games added to the number of cyberoffences, given recent cases in which some Internet game buffs paid people real money to "kill" their cyberenemies.

"Many Korean citizens are online. The more people you have online, the more cybercrime you are likely to have," said Goodman.

Hacking on computer systems, spreading viruses and cheating online equity investors were among the most frequent Internet crimes in Asia's fourth-biggest economy.

"We must have global investigating, addressing and reducing the risk, and potential for cybercrimes," said Berwick.

Back in 1990, less than 100,000 people were able to log on to the Internet worldwide. Now around 500 million people are hooked up to surf the Net around the globe, Goodman said.


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