Feds take up arms as computer crime becomes multibillion-dollar problem
By Steve Alexander
Source: startribune com
Date: October 10, 2003
The rise of computer crime as a major threat to the world economy can be spelled out in a few numbers.
The first is $2 billion -- the estimated damage done during just eight days in August when the so-called Blaster worm blitzed personal computers and corporate networks worldwide.
The second number, more than $200 million, is the financial toll among a group of U.S. companies surveyed recently by the FBI and the Computer Security Institute, a San Francisco security trade association. Internet attacks were one of the largest contributors to that figure, which is considered to be a fraction of the U.S. total.
And then there is No. 3. That is the new priority assigned to combating technology crime by the FBI, trailing only the prevention of terrorism and espionage in the bureau's mission goals.
Fighting cyber crimeRichard SennottStar TribuneBefore last year, cyber crimes didn't crack the FBI's top five.
While law enforcement is devoting new attention and resources to the problem of Internet attacks, it's uncertain whether it can ever catch up to what has been a geometric explosion of the threats.
Some analysts see the only hope for a meaningful drop in cyber crime coming from the next generation of computers and software, advances not likely to hit the market for at least two years.
The FBI and Secret Service offices in Minneapolis scored a modest victory with the arrest of a Hopkins teenager, Jeffrey Lee Parson, in connection with the Internet attack by the Blaster worm in August. But it quickly became apparent that Parson was a small-time copycat who had merely created a variant of the Blaster worm. The creators of Blaster and its follow-up worm, Welchia, remain anonymous and free. Likewise, there were no government arrests when the SoBig.F computer virus overwhelmed e-mail in-boxes around the world in August or when the Slammer worm struck the world's computers last January.
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