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Computer crimes rising, say police

Date: March 26, 2008
Source: Newsinfo.inquirer.net
By: Alcuin Papa

MANILA, Philippines -- Crimes committed via computer rose sharply last year, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Sunday.

A briefing paper on cyber crimes by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) said that PNP's 1,843 crimes involving computers were reported to police in 2007, almost triple the 527 crimes reported in 2006.

Overall, a total of 2,624 computer crimes were reported from 2003 to 2007. From only 37 in 2003, the number of computer crimes rose to 56 in 2004. It surged to 161 in 2005.

Between 2004 and 2006, the PNP's cyber crime unit investigated 195 cases requiring computer forensics.

The online crimes consist of, among others, credit card fraud, cyber pornography, copyright infringement, and computer crimes defined as in Republic Act No. 8792 or the E-Commerce Act, and RA 8484 or the Access Devices Regulation Acts.

CIDG commander Chief Supt. Raul Castaņeda said they were going "full blast" against cyber crimes.

"We are really focusing on cyber crimes. We have to be prepared because this is the wave of the future," Castaņeda told the Philippine Daily Inquirer (parent company of INQUIRER.net).

The CIDG's efforts have resulted in the conviction in 2005 of JJ Maria Giner, the first conviction of a hacker in the country. Giner was convicted under the E-Commerce Act for hacking into government websites.

The CIDG has also disabled 21 "phishing" sites based in the country. Phishing is an attempt to fraudulently obtain sensitive information like user names, passwords and credit card details by passing oneself as friendly and trustworthy through electronic communication.

Computer and cell phone forensics were also used in other cases like the one against members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA), the murder of former Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin, the cases against Magdalo soldiers, the Batasan blast as well as other bombing incidents, and the Peninsula Manila siege.

Castaņeda revealed that training and procurement of equipment was ongoing to beef up their capabilities in computer forensics and cyber crime investigation.

He noted that computer forensics as well as cell phone forensics were becoming vital in antiterrorism and anti-criminality operations.

Castaņeda said efforts to fight cyber crime were mostly concentrated in Metro Manila. But he said they would put up satellite units in Davao, Zamboanga, Cebu and Baguio cities.

At present, the CIDG's computer crimes unit only has nine operatives. But 200 CIDG personnel have received training in cyber crime investigation.

Most of the equipment being used by the CIDG came from the US Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program.

To boost its campaign against cyber crimes, the CIDG is forging closer ties with the National Bureau of Investigation, the Police Anti-Crime Emergency Response unit, Interpol, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Anti-Money Laundering Council and Microsoft.

The Philippines is also tying up with other countries with cyber crime units like China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong.


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