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Policing cyberspace

Source: The NATION
Date: August 25, 2003

Cyber Crime The Royal Thai Police are working to establish a new branch called the Computer Crime Suppression Centre to oversee the prevention of computer crime in Thailand.

The new centre will be officially operating next month, initially with 14 police officers trained in technical matters.

Police Information System (PIS)'s assistant director Colonel Yannapol Youngyuen said that in the past computer-crime prevention and investigation had been taken care of by the PIS as a minor task, but with the increasing number of computer-crime cases there was now a need for a special team to concentrate on the job.

Computer crimes can occur both virtually and physically. Spam mailing, virus and worm infections, hacking and fraud over the Internet are all facets of computer crime. Broadly, computer crime includes any misdeeds using computers or the Internet as a tool.

According to a report from the Thai Computer Emergency Response Team (ThaiCERT), the total number of incidents at government websites rose from 150 cases in 2001 to 355 cases in 2002, and in just the first half of this year there have been 202 cases already.

Yannapol said the new centre’s responsibility was therefore to work on suppression and prevention. Police at the centre will use computer systems to watch for computer crime, receive reports and investigate the cases.

Once the centre has determined the source of any crime and made some investigations, it will pass the case to police in the area where the crime was committed.

The centre will also work with international agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in cases of crime traced back to other countries.

“We have been receiving technology and experience from the FBI and the CIA. From August 11 to 22 FBI officers are training Thai police in computer-crime suppression at police headquarters, and United States’ taxpayers are giving US$100,000 [Bt4.1 million] to help set up the centre in Thailand,” said Yannapol.

The centre will also work closely with local agencies such as ThaiCERT, ACIS Professional Centre (an information-security and computer-network training centre), and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Recently the NIA established a new division, called the Cybersecurity Division, to be responsible for the NIA’s tasks related to computer and Internet technology.

Chief of the Cybersecurity Division at the NIA, Somya Pattanavophan, said that as computer crime and terrorism had increased around the world, as well as in Thailand, it was necessary to have a special division to directly oversee the problem.

The new division has been up and running since last October with 20 people who are familiar with computers and Internet technology. Its main function is to investigate computer crime and terrorism.

The NIA reports directly to the Prime Minister's Office, which has had a policy of paying more attention to computer crime and terrorism since the September 11 attacks created greater insecurity for many countries, including Thailand. The office believes it needs to be well prepared for protection, prevention and suppression of such cases.

“For example, one case occurred in the South of Thailand when someone used the Internet Protocol system at a university to hack the e-Bay website. This kind of case casts a negative slur on the clean reputation of the country,” Somya said.

“Recent moves reflect a national attempt to improve security.”

Original article at: The NATION

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